Thursday, January 16, 2014

Animated Thoughts: 2014 Academy Award Nominees

oscars.org
The 86th Academy Award nominees have been announced.

For the 'Best Animated Feature' category, we have:
  • Frozen (Disney)
  • The Croods (Fox/DreamWorks)
  • The Wind Rises (Disney/Studio Ghibli)
  • Despicable Me 2 (Universal/Illumination)
  • Ernest & Celestine (GKIDS)
I didn't see 'The Croods' in the theater as the character designs just didn't appeal to me. But, I'm a big fan of both Chris Sanders and Nicholas Cage and DreamWorks has put out some real gems recently, so will have to track down a copy and watch it before the awards ceremony. It's been getting mixed reviews in the animation community so I'll have to see first hand who's closer to my personal tastes. I'm happy to see that another Miyazaki film 'The Wind Rises' has received a nomination. Though I haven't seen it yet, according to Animation Magazine, the english dub version will be released in U.S. theaters on February 21st.

I'm also extremely pleased to see the delightful 'Ernest & Celestine' receive a nomination. This was one of my favorite films from last year's Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema and it is my personal hope that 'Ernest & Celestine' will walk away with the golden statue.

But as happy as I am to see 'Wind Rises' and 'Ernest & Celestine' get nominated, I'm even more utterly disapponted to see that 'Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury' got passed over. While not the most accessible film, 'Rio 2096' was a powerful film that confronted the brutality that exists in Brazil's history all through the lens of two lovers who struggle to reunite throughout the centuries. It was bar none my favorite feature length animated film from WFAC and I had hoped that an Oscar nomination would spur a U.S. theatrical run. Hopefully though, we'll see 'Rio 2096' at least get a U.S. DVD or iTunes digital download release. This is a film that I would really like to share with my friends who can't make it to the festivals.

For 'Best Animated Short' there is:
  • Feral by Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden
  • Get a Horse! by Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim
  • Mr. Hublot by Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares
  • Possessions by Shuhei Morita
  • Room on the Broom by Max Lang and Jan Lachauer
I caught 'Feral' at the Ottawa International Animation Festival last year. And while a visually pleasing film with solid animation and art direction, it wasn't really to my tastes. Not a bad film by any means and is certainly Oscar worthy, it just didn't do it for me. Eh, everyone has their own subjective tastes in film.

Disney's 'Get a Horse!' was a fun ride made even moreso by the opportunity to meet Lauren MacMullin and Eric Goldberg at Ottawa. Ms. MacMullin and Mr. Goldberg showed their short film to the crowd then gave two presentations discussing how they made their film. A very appealing event to a room full of animators!

I don't recall seeing the other three films at the festivals last year, however, each year before the Academy Awards ceremony, the Detroit Institute of Art's Detroit Film Theatre shows a program with all the animated short film nominees. Additionally, Shorts International sells a digital download on iTunes with all the animated short film nominees. So there should be ample opportunities to view all the shorts before March and pick my favorite.

Event details for the Detroit Film Theatre can be found here and the schedule at the DIA/DFT is as follows:
  • Friday, January 31, 2014 - 7:00 PM
  • Saturday, February 01, 2014 - 7:00 PM
  • Sunday, February 02, 2014 - 1:00 PM
  • Sunday, February 02, 2014 - 6:00 PM
  • Wednesday, February 05, 2014 - 7:00 PM
  • Thursday, February 06, 2014 - 7:00 PM
  • Friday, February 07, 2014 - 7:00 PM
  • Saturday, February 08, 2014 - 7:00 PM
  • Sunday, February 09, 2014 - 1:00 PM
  • Sunday, February 09, 2014 - 6:00 PM
  • Friday, February 14, 2014 - 7:00 PM
  • Saturday, February 15, 2014 - 7:00 PM
  • Sunday, February 16, 2014 - 1:00 PM
  • Sunday, February 16, 2014 - 6:00 PM
  • Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 7:00 PM
  • Thursday, February 20, 2014 - 7:00 PM
On a side note: I'm particularly pleased to see "Let It Go" from Frozen receive a nod for the 'Best Original Song' category. While I'm not a big fan of musicals, Idina Menzel's rendition of "Let It Go" during Frozen was easily the best song I've heard in an animated film in years. I think it would be fantastic to add another iconic Disney song to previous winners "You'll Be in My Heart" from Tarzan, "Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas, "Can You Feel the love Tonight" from Lion King, "A Whole New World" from Aladdin, "Beauty and the Beast" from Beauty and the Beast, "Under the Sea" from the Little Mermaid, and "When You Wish upon a Star" from Pinocchio.

The awards ceremony will be broadcast on Sunday, March 2nd, 2014. Until then, more coverage can be seen on the following websites:

Animation Magazine

Animation Scoop 

Cartoon Brew

Congratulations to all the nominees and to all the filmmakers who submitted their films for consideration.

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