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Entries in Pixar (48)

Tuesday
Mar182014

New Pixar sequels announced, one more incredible than the other

Disney announced today that Pixar has more sequels in the pipeline after Finding Dory in 2016. For our sins, one of them is Cars 3, because as long as the company can make the GDP of several small nations by selling Lightning McQueen lunchboxes, there's no compelling reason to stop making Cars films, apparently. The good news is that Cars 2 probably sets the bar low enough that the next film in the franchise ought to be able to blast right over it without much trouble.

By far the better news, though, is that the studio is also gearing up for The Incredibles 2, a sequel to the one Pixar film that seems rich with possibilites to have its plot expanded upon. And Brad Bird is on hand to write the screenplay, at least, which is pretty much the only thing they had to say to keep me, for one, more than a little optimistic.

No dates are announced, but the studio has a full slate through Thanksgiving, 2016, so we likely have a solid three years of alternating hopefulness with troubling stories about last-minute director replacements or more.

Anyone besides me genuinely excited for The Incredibles 2? Can anyone muster up something even a little nice to say about Cars 3?

Monday
Dec022013

41st Annie Award Nominations

Tim here, with a quick bit of news: the International Animated Film Society has announced the nominees for the 41st Annie Awards. Unsurprisingly, it's heavily tilted towards big studio fare, with Despicable Me 2 dominating the list with eleven nominations, Monsters University and Frozen with ten nominations apiece, and The Croods just a breath behind with nine.

In the short categories (Best Animated Special Production, Best Animated Short), three of the films on the Oscar bake-off list made the Annies' cut: British TV special "Room on the Broom", the Canadian "Gloria Victoria", and Disney's tech-heavy new Mickey short, "Get a Horse!"

The full list of nominees is here. For now, I'll leave you with the nominations for Voice Acting, entirely men aside from Wiig. (The corresponding TV category is 100% male)

  • Paul Giamatti as the voice of Chet - Turbo  
  • Terry Crews as the voice of Earl – Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2  
  • Kristen Wiig as the voice of Lucy – Despicable Me 2
  • Steve Carell as the voice of Gru – Despicable Me 2  
  • Pierre Coffin as the voice of Minions - Despicable Me 2
  • Billy Crystal as the voice of Mike – Monsters University 
  • Josh Gad as the voice of Olaf - Frozen

And the seven films in contention for Best Animated Feature:

We can probably expect Oscar's list to consist of some combination of four or five of these.

Monday
Nov112013

Looking back on the 2003 Best Animated Feature nominees

Andrew Stanton with the first of his Animated Feature OscarsTim here. This November, we’ve been reflecting on the films of 2003, in preparation for the newest edition of the Supporting Actress Smackdown, and I’d like to use this as the opportunity to return us all to a simpler time. An easier time. A saner time. A time when the Best Animated Feature category at the Academy Awards wasn’t routinely filled up with five nominees because some much-too-small arbitrary threshold had been reached.

There were three nominees in the category that year, out of a field of eleven. And even that was not quite a small enough number to keep away from something a bit like a filler nomination (looking at the list, the fact that Satoshi Kon could have two eligible titles in Millennium Actress and Tokyo Godfathers, and swing a nomination for neither of them, depresses me something fierce). But it’s not a bad mix of films at all, anchored by two films that have survived the intervening decade as bona-fide classics of the medium, and one film that… hasn’t, though it’s clung to an appreciative cult.

Fish, Bear and Other after the jump

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov052013

The 2013 Animated Feature Oscar hopefuls

Tim here, officially taking over the Film Experience animation beat to share with everybody some news: the final list of 19 features submitted for consideration for the Best Animated Feature Film Academy Award has been announced. There's no guarantee that all 19 will end up qualifying - The Smurfs 2 is on the list, and there seems little reason to assume that it won't follow its predecessor in being disqualified - but as long as 16 make the final cut, we can look forward to 5 nominees in the category. Meaning that every animated feature released in the United States will have a 1 in 3.8 of receiving an Oscar nomination, which are not the most appropriate odds of receiving a prestigious, internationally prominent award.

We'll spend more time in the weeks to come going over all of these titles individually, but I thought it would be a good time to do some immediate sorting. Rather than just dumping the list on y'all, I decided to break it down into groups based on where the film came from and what its prospects might be going forward.

Frozen looks lock'ish

American studio releases with a good chance for a nomination
The Croods (DreamWorks Animation)
Despicable Me 2 (Illumination Entertainment)
Frozen (Walt Disney Animation Studios) - based on the recent wave of warm reviews, it's looking like the biggest lock of them all
Monsters University (Pixar Animation Studios)

American studio releases with little or no chance for a nomination
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Sony Pictures Animation)
Epic (Blue Sky Studios)
Free Birds (Reel FX Creative Studios, dist. by Relativity Media)
Planes (DisneyToon Studios)
The Smurfs 2 (Sony Pictures Animation)
Turbo (DreamWorks Animation)

High-profile foreign productions with strong distributor backing
Ernest & Celestine (GKIDS)
A Letter to Momo (GKIDS)
The Wind Rises (Studio Ghibli/Disney)

O Apostolo is a stop motion feature from Spain

Foreign productions about which I know nothing
The Fake (South Korean, unknown distributor)
Khumba (dist. by Millennium Entertainment)
The Legend of Sarila (dist. by Phase 4 Films)
O Apóstolo (Spanish, unknown distributor)
Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Movie - Rebellion (dist. by Aniplex of America)
Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury (Brazilian, unknown distributor)

UPDATED OSCAR CHART

Thursday
Sep192013

Whither Pixar?

Tim here, with what we might call, to steal a phrase, a burning question. Or at least a terrified, desperate question with rage tears streaming all down my face:

What the hell is happening with Pixar Animation Studios?

By this point, I imagine most of you have heard the news that The Good Dinosaur, the studio’s second film out in the future, has been pushed from May, 2014, to November, 2015. This coming just a few weeks after the announcement that Bob Peterson, a writer and storyboard artist with the studio since forever, had been taken off what was to have been his solo directorial debut with that same project.

This has had all sorts of fun ramifications for the company, including the inexplicable Finding Nemo sequel Finding Dory being pushed to May, 2016, to make room for The Good Dinosaur. 2014, at the moment, will end up as the first calendar year since 2005 without a Pixar feature release, while 2015 will be the first year ever with two (assuming that Disney doesn’t end up announcing that Inside Out is to be rushed out ahead of schedule). The Good Dinosaur doesn’t have an announced director yet, and nobody knows whether or not Peterson is staying with the studio in any capacity.

It will be, of course, two years and change before any of us are actually able to judge whether any of this will be for the good of the film: it’s entirely possible that there really were irreconcilable story problems that needed far too much work and fresh blood than could happen in the initial time frame. One thing that’s almost certain, given how tight-lipped Disney and Pixar are about their internal politics, we’ll never know what Peterson’s The Good Dinosaur was meant to be like. That’s not really what I wanted to rant about, anyway.

The problem is that this isn’t at all new behavior: The Good Dinosaur is at least the fifth Pixar film to have a director changeover midway through production, and the fourth one in a row. 2011’s Cars 2, this year’s Monsters University, and most noisily, 2012’s Brave all went through the same upheaval, and they are all widely, even universally, regarded as being among the worst films in the studio’s output. So if it truly is the case that the executive logic is that those films needed to be “fixed”, the earlier versions must have been problematic indeed – who wants to imagine a version of Cars 2 that was worse than the one released to theaters?

 

It is very hard, in other words, to give the studio any benefit of the doubt at all. It’s been just a handful of years since the run of movies that ended with Toy Story 3 – the platonic ideal of an apparent cash-in sequel that turns out to have been motivated by real artistry and sensitivity – but the days when a commanding majority of critics and animation fans took the name of Pixar as an ironclad guarantee of quality seem like a distant, naïve memory, and developments like this are exactly the wrong sort of thing to restore that kind of faith. Once a creative haven, Pixar has become mired in safety-tested formulas and groupthink, less invested in protecting its brand name from failure than in insulating it from any kind of unconventional thinking. Would Brenda Chapman’s Brave have been any good? Who knows? What’s certain is that it would have felt less like every other Pixar film, and it’s hard not to want to know what that would be like.

 

To be fair, this isn’t just Pixar’s problem. Big-budget filmmaking as a whole feels more indebted to safety-conscious decisions that are designed more with an eye to making sure that new movies feel as much as possible like other movies that were already hits (the careful buffering out of individual personalities in the Harry Potter films and the Marvel Cinematic Universe leap to mind), and the biggest budgets only ever go to sequels, or to adaptations of road-tested stories. In the wake of The Lone Ranger, it’s hard to feel like the studios don’t have a reason for this conservatism, but anodyne, one-size-fits-all movies (now obliged to play in cultures as widely different as the American Midwest and urban China) are boring, even the well-made ones.

Until the last couple of years, I’d have never called any Pixar film “boring”. Even Cars 2 can’t be rightfully described that way, though most other negative adjectives fit just fine. And maybe this is all paranoia: maybe The Good Dinosaur really did have huge problems, and the final result is now going to be better than any of us can possibly imagine. But that’s not what Pixar’s rhetoric is saying. Instead, they’re telling us that they needed to beat The Good Dinosaur into a form that everybody could sign off on, admitting in almost so many words that this personal project had to be run through a committee in order to make sure it felt like everything else the studio has made. Maybe the results will be worth it, but it doesn’t sound to me like it’s going to be good for the imagination of the film’s creators or the imagination of its audience, and it’s the continuation of a trend that’s made the former best movie studio of the 2000s feel increasingly industrialized and lifelessly market-driven.