Oscar History

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Entries in animated films (313)


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...]

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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...

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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.

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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...

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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.

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Oscar Updates: Doc, Shorts, and Animation Charts

The Academy branches have been furiously screening all sort of less heralded fare of late. Tim already talked us through the animated shorts and I'm most intrigued by the Chilean allegory about a bear ripped from his circus life and a film about Russian astronauts. But there's more to uncover!

Heads up that we've updated that shorts, animation, and documentary section of our famed Oscar Charts. Click over and read up on the fascinating competitions.

As with all things Oscar, the shorts categories do get more attention than they once did many moons ago -- particularly with that mini theatrical tour of the nominated films each year --  but it's still not much.

Live Action Shorts
This year we've got barbers shaving cartel leaders, interpreters delivering babies, nuns interrupted, little boys in big wars, father and daughter visits gone awry, and much more in the Live Action shorts category. There's even a title with Q'Orianka Kilcher from The New World (!!!) and Vincent Kartheiser from Mad Men in the mix called Winter Light that bills itself as a "revisionist Western thriller". The ten finalists are quite a mix of types with thrillers, comedies, dramas, war films, and westerns accounted for.

Documentary Shorts
This tends to be the category most likely to trigger massive depressive episodes and this year is no exception: war, ebola, war, honor killings, war, The Holocaust, rape, and did I mention war? I personally can't even deal. Not this particular season.

Animated Features
This category continues to feel sewn up for Inside Out but the real drama is "how many nominees will we get?" since there's less films eligible than usual. If they still go with five, do you think Peanuts can surprise?

Documentary Features
I've been grilling members of the documentary branch over cocktails and light h'ors doeuvres at various parties of late. One charming older gentleman even pulled out a handwritten list of his favorites to read from only to pocket it again as if to torture me from suspense. High profile competitors (Amy, Going Clear, The Look of Silence, Best of Enemies) definitely have fans. Not that that means anything as this branch often surprises with both their finalist list and what gets shut out so nothing can be called "safe". But if something is safe maybe it's Cartel Land which has been name-checked with great frequency. Random shoutouts abound including Iris, Winter's on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom, Where to Invade Next, and Meru. Sadly I haven't heard one mention of friskier / weirder critical darlings like The Wolfpack or Laurie Anderson's Heart of a Dog.

See the charts


The animated short films Oscar shortlist

Tim here. Today, the Academy announced that it has whittled the initial list of 60 titles eligible for the Best Animated Short Film Oscar down to ten finalists that will go on to compete for the five nominations in January. Like all of you, I imagine, I haven't seen most of these ten, but let's run through them quickly to see what we've got:

Bear Story (Historia de un oso) - Gabriel Osorio, director; Pato Escala, producer (Punkrobot Animation Studio)
This Chilean effort - Cartoon Brew notes that it would be the first Chilean film ever nominated if it makes it - looks to be a toy-esque animal fable done in charmingly plasticky CGI. Trailer

Carface (Autos Portraits) - Claude Cloutier, director (National Film Board of Canada)
A car with, get this, a face, sings "Que Sera, Sera", accompanied by images in thick lines and full color of cars and machines. It never does to count out the NFB, which has one of the most reliable histories of producing terrific animated shorts anywhere in the world. Trailer

The other eight nominees below the jump

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