Sunday, February 26, 2012

Animated Thoughts: 2012 Academy Awards

Well, the Academy Awards are tonight. My predictions for the winners are the following:
  • Best Animated Feature film: 'Kung Fu Panda 2'
  • Best Animated Short film: 'La Luna'
Thanks to the miracle of iTunes, I've watched all the feature-length animated films except for 'A Cat in Paris' & 'Puss in Boots' and all the animated short films--though I saw three of them at Ottawa last year and caught 'Chico and Rita' at Waterloo. Yet another reason to go to animated film festivals (shameless plug)!

The films I'd like to see win at the Academy Awards this year are as follows*:
  • Best Animated Feature film: 'Chico & Rita'
  • Best Animated Short film: 'Wild Life'
While I enjoyed 'Kung Fu Panda 2' and 'Rango', since they were decent films that were expertly produced and animated, I would rather see 'Chico & Rita' win for the two following reasons:

1. The subject matter broke out of the age ghetto that animation regularly finds itself in. I love many of the animated films that are produced for a younger audience. However, relegating animated films to the realm of only suitable for children does a disservice to the art form by making the assumption that animation is incapable of telling complex stories for adults. See 'Heavy Metal', 'Renaissance', 'Technotise Edit & I', the 'Illusionist', 'Boogie, el Aceitoso', and a plethora of Japanese animation to numerous to mention here for examples of where animation created for an adult audience can produce decent films--though sadly, they are not always commercial successes.

2. Chico & Rita used (relatively) old school rotoscoping techniques. Now I'm not the biggest fan of rotoscoping, but when it's done right, it's a decent thing to watch and doesn't detract from the story or the visuals (again, I reference 'Heavy Metal' and 'Renaissance').

With the exception of 'A Morning Stroll', which I didn't understand the purpose of, I enjoyed all the short films this year. Why the NFB's 'Wild Life' over Pixar's charming film 'La Luna'? No real reason other than personal taste, although it probably has a lot to do with my having sat through both short films at Ottawa, followed by the Q&A session with the creators. Both Pixar and the National Film Board of Canada are animation powerhouses when it comes to their history with the Academy Awards, so it wouldn't bother me if either film won.

One thing that I think is worthy of note is that 'The Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore' was created by Moonbot Studios through financial assistance from the State of Louisiana. There's a very interesting article on Friday's Marketplace podcast which can be listened to here.

And if you get the chance, Cartoon Brew has a series of interviews with directors from the nominated films on their website.

* Sadly, I haven't been able to watch 'A Cat in Paris' as it isn't commercially available here in the States (yet!). So, I reserve the right to change my opinion on the films I would like to see win the Academy Award. But for now, the previous two films have my vote.