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Entries in animated films (163)


Previewing the animated features of 2014

Tim here. It’s the last edition of my weekly animation essay for 2013, which would ordinarily be the best time for a year-in-review piece. However, the year has been so rough for animation (remember Escape from Planet Earth? Are you happy about that fact?) that it seemed better just to quickly move beyond it and pretend it didn’t happen. Let us instead look with clear eyes and hopeful hearts to the future, and take a quick preview of the animated features that will be scattered throughout 2014. This isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but if I missed anything big, feel free to point it out in comments.

Films to maybe hold out hope for:

-The Lego Movie (February 7). The concept, and the cameos by DC superheroes, scream “branding exercise”, but with Phil Lord and Chris Miller on-hand as writers and directors, there’s reason to be hopeful. The duo has gone 2-for-2 so far with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street, and that’s not a track record to idly dismiss. Besides, the trailer reveals that its laziest sins (a “Chosen One” narrative, celebrity voice cast) looks to be applied with a more playfully ironic touch than usual. And the random sense of humor looks different from the usual family fare, at any rate: the bit with Wonder Woman’s invisible jet gets me every time.

Dragons, Boxtrolls and more after the jump

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Animated Feature Contender: Rio 2096

Tim Brayton will be looking at several of the contenders for Oscar's Animated Feature race. He previously reviewedThe Wind RisesErnest & CelestineFrozen, and Letter to Momo. This week: Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury.

At times, one is reminded to despair for the English language. We have before us a certain Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury, named in the original Portuguese Uma História de Amor e Fúria, a superior title on two levels. One is that the “Rio 2096” business is an inelegant distraction. The other and more important thing is that in almost every Romantic language, the words for “story” and “history” are the same, and plenty of writers have gotten mileage out of that fact through the years. At any rate, describing Rio 2096 as something that’s both story and history at the same time is merely accurate. Whereas describing it as something that takes place in Rio de Janeiro in 2096 is accurate-ish, though it reeks of marketing to an audience that remembers when “adult animation” and “used-up future” were basically synonymous, back in the 1990s.

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7 Things You Need to Know About the 289 Eligible Oscar Contenders

As you may no doubt have heard AMPAS released the list (included below) of 289 Feature Films which have qualified for Oscar consideration this year in all categories beyond the specialties with complex eligibility rules (documentary, animated, foreign film, shorts). Here are seven things you should know about the list. 

Most Will Come Nowhere Near a Nomination
This list is 289 pictures long but typically only 25-30 feature films each year (excluding, again, the specialty categories which play by different rules) receive nominations of any kind with a few key pictures hogging the goods. In 2012 only 22 pictures won nominations (!) with Lincoln, Life of Pi, Les Miz, and Silver Linings hogging the goods whereas the wealth was spread out more in 2011 when 32 pictures were nominated in some capacity.

Too Easy
This year five films will be nominated for the Best Animated Feature title but only 19 animated films are eligible. Can you imagine if it was that easy proportionately for features, animated or otherwise, to win Best Picture nominations? If it was we'd literally have 75 Best Picture nominees this year since 289 films qualified. Instead we'll have a more sensible number, somewhere between 5 and 10 according to current rules, the number determined by how many films can rustle up enough high ballot support in the Academy membership. MORE TRIVIA AFTER THE JUMP

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Year in Review: Box Office Bonanzas

Cue: confetti, trumpets, fainting women, ornery cinephiles, and orgasmic actressexuals™. This is Part One of Millions! Hundred$ of Million$

We'll start with the commerce and work our way to the art. So herewith the tops in various money categories for your mental ledgers.

Top Per-Screen Arthouse Opening
BLUE JASMINE $102,011 (6 Theaters)
Runner Up: INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS $101,353 (4 Theaters)
* Disclaimer both AMERICAN HUSTLE & FROZEN beat these numbers but those were fake-outs clearly on their way to wide mainstream moviehouses, rather than intended as platform specialty films.

Woody Allen's 'Streetcar meets Madoff Scandal' hit started even stronger than his biggest modern hit Midnight in Paris. It didn't end up making as much but then Blue Jasmine was a fair bit more depressing and riches to less riches is elemental to its DNA. Meanwhile the Coen Bros, like Woody Allen but with more regular crossover potential, can always bank on a hardcore fanbase to sell out those initial shows.

Katniss, McConaughey & McCarthy, Iron Men and Naked French Lesbians after the jump

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Animated Feature Contender: The Wind Rises

Tim Brayton will be looking at the key contenders for Oscar's Animated Feature race. He previously reviewed Ernest & Celestine, Frozen, and Letter to Momo. This week: The Wind Rises.

It’s easy enough to expect great, career-capping things of the final film of any important director even when it was largely an accident of timing that it worked out that. And when the director in question has openly announced his retirement with his film still fresh in theaters, that makes it that much more tempting to view it as some kind of Overt Statement. In the case of Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, it’s a bit hard to say what an Overt Statement might actually consist of, but we can get this out of the way and then relax: there’s nothing about this that feels like a grand farewell to an artform. Far from being a summing-up, it’s probably the least characteristic film of the director’s canon, except in one respect: it makes the fascination with flight and objects in motion, a concern in every single movie he’s made (if only in a very small way), the central driving force of its plot.

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