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Podcast - 1996 Cannes Competition Revisit

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Entries in animated films (301)

Tuesday
Jan052016

Surprises Abound for the PGA Nominations

Chris here. In addition to the Art Directors Guild earlier in the morning, today the Producers Guild of America announced their feature film nominations, and we have some surprises.

The omissions included Carol (take a breath, everyone) and Room, both also left out from the ADG nominations. We may be passionate fans of Carol around these parts, but the miss here is a sign that our pony still has to capitalize on its momentum to continue in the race. Room on the other hand is a tiny, non-American produced film that was probably overestimated to show up in a group that has leaned populist enough nominate the likes of Star Trek and Skyfall.

Speaking of blockbuster candidates, The Force Awakens also missed out here. While thought to potentially upset here, the franchise's Oscar hopes can now likely be put to bed for major categories. Here are our nominees:

The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Motion Picture

  • The Big Short
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Brooklyn
  • Ex Machina
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Sicario
  • Spotlight
  • Straight Outta Compton

The biggest surprises are Ex Machina and Sicario, also surprising at the ADG - are you sensing a trend? While they are not major Best Picture threats for the Oscar race, their place here shows passionate support brewing and certainly raises their profile. Straight Outta Compton, whose ensemble was recognized by SAG, is one of the bigger financial successes here and a nice nod to Universal's outstanding year at the box office.

Check after the jump for who got the biggest boost...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jan012016

Review: Anomalisa

Tim here. The biggest strength of Anomalisa is that it's the most prominent, prestigious animated feature made in the U.S. for an exclusively adult audience in ages and ages. Since Fritz the Cat, probably; maybe even of all time. The film is the brainchild of Charlie Kaufman, who initially wrote it as an audio-driven stageplay performed by the same cast as the movie; he turned it into a stop-motion feature with the help of co-director Duke Johnson, a veteran of the dark Adult Swim satire Moral Orel. Oddly, it's perhaps the least outré film of Kaufman's career, despite being animated. Or maybe it's exactly the dirty trick of the movie that Kaufman's most ruthlessly realistic story ever would also be the one that is the least objectively "real" of all of them.

That story centers on Michael Stone (David Thewlis), a melancholy author traveling to Cincinnati to give the keynote speech at a conference for customer service representatives. Michael is not a happy man, a fact omnipresent in every facet of the film, from Thewlis's perfectly drained line deliveries, those of a man who could do with a good cry and is too tired even for that, to the painfully bland color palette of the film. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec182015

The Animated Feature contenders: Regular Show: The Movie

Tim here. Our tour of the films submitted for this year's Best Animated Feature Oscar now takes us to the most obscure American-made film on the list, Regular Show: The Movie. It's a spin-off of an absurdist Cartoon Network series – that is, absurdist even by the standards of Cartoon Network – which was given the tiniest whisper of a theatrical release to ensure the publicity of articles like this one. So, a success!

The film has the freaked-out energy of a kid on a sugar rush, and assembles its plot in roughly as coherent a manner: in the future, talking raccoon Rigby (William Salyers) and talking bluebird Mordecai (director & series creator J.G. Quintel), formerly best friends, are on opposite sides of a galactic war to stop a rift in the space-time continuum for devouring all of existence. The only way to do this is for a mortally wounded Rigby to travel back to the present, where his younger self and younger Mordecai are working a dead-end job as park groundskeepers. And they have go back even further, to high school, where Rigby told a lie that kicked-off the creation of a broken time machine that led to that same rift in space-time. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec112015

The Animated Feature contenders: Boy and the World

Tim here, to spread the Good News about the best animated feature of 2015. Though for everybody in the U.S. outside of New York and Los Angeles, it's not coming until 2016, and anyway it first premiered in 2013. The point being, this weekend marks the Oscar-qualifying release of Boy and the World, an astonishing, crazily inventive, unnervingly thoughtful fable from Brazil and the hands of director/animator Alê Abreu.

It's a wholly idiosyncratic vision of childhood and globalization, and a film with no clear target audience - there's nothing kid-unfriendly here, but I also can't imagine a kid understanding any of what's going on. Nevertheless the self-selecting population of adults willing to watch a cartoon that looks for all the world like a video for pre-schoolers is in for a rare treat.

more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec042015

The Animated Feature Contenders: Moomins on the Riviera

Tim here. Every December, Tim's Toons preps for the upcoming Oscar nominations in January by looking at some of the smaller and more easily overlooked films that have thrown their hat in the ring for the Best Animated Feature Oscar. It's a slim list of 16 titles this year, which means that if even one of them fails to meet the eligibility requirements (they don't all appear to have had their qualifying theatrical run yet), we wouldn’t have a year with five nominees. Something to think about as you all work on your nomination predictions.

Let’s turn now to one of those films that almost certainly won't make the cut no matter how many nominees end up happening, through absolutely no fault of its own. Moomins on the Riviera is a slight, charming, and deeply silly comedy adapting an iconic Finnish comic strip and children’s book series, quite obscure in America, about a family of trolls that look rather like hippopotamuses with no mouths. The film itself is a French-Finnish co-production, and it feels like both of those nationalities are in play; the music and coloring feel significantly gallic, the story and designs have a definite Nordic tang (director Xavier Picard and co-director Hanna Hemilä are from the two respective countries, uncoincidentally).

The story, meanwhile, taken from Swedish-speaking Finn Tove Jansson's comics, is pure uncut childish frivolity (the Best Animated Feature category as a whole is distinctly juvenile this year). The Moomins – Moomin (Russell Tovey in the English dub), Moominmamma (Trace Ann Oberman), Moominpappa (Nathaniel Parker), and Moomin’s girlfriend Snorkmaiden (Stephanie Winiecki) – have an extraordinarily low-key run-in with some pirates, after which they rescue the tiny, bratty human girl Little My (Ruth Gibson). With one sea adventure having gone well, the gang agrees to another, and in no time at all they're battling storms and taking a tiny sailboat across the ocean to the Riviera. There, they have run-ins with haughty celebrities, snooty hotel staff, daffy artists and oblivious art collectors, and generally move with gentle, deliberate slowness through one of the kindest fish-out-of-water comedies I have ever seen.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec012015

Annie Awards Give Love to Pixar (and "Judy" in The Revenant!)

The Annie Awards, now in their 43rd year, seemed to have stabilized after their controversial laden years when people felt they were to beholden to Dreamworks Animation (am I remembering this correctly?) within their voting ranks. But their nominations often still feel quite random as in voice acting where Richard Kind was shut out for "bing bong" in Inside Out. Or Tom Noonan, who voices almost every character in Anomalisa, being ignored. Or their character design and visual effects nominations sometimes specifying individual scenes or categories and sometimes just labelled "all". And the varying number of nominations per category.

In short: their executive body really needs to sharpen up their rules so they feel more respectable / consistent.

But it was a good morning for Pixar since Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur dominated with 14 and 10 nods respectively. As for their competition for Oscar gold, good showings for Anomalisa, Shaun the Sheep and Peanuts with 5 nominations each. The low profile but reportedly excellent Brazilian feature Boy and the World received 3 nominations.

Even some live action films get honored by the Annies since most films get computer animated assists these days so... what's that? The Revenant was nominated? See more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov302015

Review: The Good Dinosaur

Tim here. The Good Dinosaur is, in the first place, a kids' film: not a film about kids but also somewhat for adults, like Inside Out. Or, indeed, most of what Pixar Animation Studios has produced in its 20 years of making features. In fact, even including the unabashed toy commercials of the Cars franchise, this might be the most unmixed "for the kids" movie out of the 16 films of the Pixar canon. This has translated into a lot of disappointment from a lot of people openly hoping for another film at the Inside Out level of emotional sophistication and narrative creativity, which was really never going to be in the cards; frankly, the movie doesn't seem to have any designs on that kind of sophistication.

Still, it's easy to be too harsh on the movie: simple and direct as The Good Dinosaur certainly is, it's an enormously strong version of its stock narrative.

Click to read more ...