Friday, January 15, 2016
So Shiny, So Gold: 2015 Oscar Nominations Released
It's that time again!
For me, the Oscars are a very fun guessing game, nothing more. I think those little gold statues mean little, for the Academy Awards is really just a vehicle to make our good ol' American film industry look important.
Anyways, the animated feature nominations are solid. Inside Out, the obvious winner here, was an inevitability alongside Charlie Kaufman's adults-only stop-motion drama Anomalisa (hey Paramount, it's mid-January! When's the wide release date going to be announced?), Aardman's Shaun the Sheep Movie, and Studio Ghibli's (possibly last) feature When Marnie Was There. All four were in my predictions, alongside The Peanuts Movie, but that didn't get the nom. Many are upset over this, too.
What got in instead? Boy & The World. Now I'm sure Boy & The World is great, and from what I've seen of it, it looks impressive. Plus, it's traditional animated. However, this film is two years old. I usually get antsy when the Academy nominates films that are a year older, and they've done this for years. Spirited Away was released in Japan in 2001, the US got it - dubbed - in 2002, so it ran for and won Best Animated Feature of 2002. Personally, that kind of thing has always tipped me off a bit. I wish they'd just nominate it the year it comes out, no matter what language it may be in. That's a personal gripe of mine. This is the first time the Academy nominated a film that debuted two years before the year it was running.
Anyways, the Brazilian traditionally animated feature - which was given a short, very limited run here recently by GKIDS - first debuted at the Ottawa International Animation Festival in fall 2013, and opened in Brazil the following January.
What I am happy about is the fact that, like last year's platter, the five nominees are all different, visually and narrative-wise. We've got one CG film, two stop-motion films, and two traditionally animated features. All solid choices, and this year's mainstream menu wasn't very... Well... Great. Minions? Home? Strange Magic? Hotel Transylvania 2? Hopefully this year, we see a nice step up in quality from all the houses.
Actually, what I am not happy about is Inside Out's score getting snubbed. Michael Giacchino put together such a wonderful score for that film, one that complements the weighty storyline whilst having a really lush atmosphere to it. Now I'm sure those other scores I haven't heard (such as The Hateful Eight and Carol) are fantastic as well, but c'mon! Inside Out should've been a shoe-in! I certainly would nominate it over The Force Awakens' score, and that score was also great. But as I usually say, it's just a little gold man statue.
As for Inside Out not getting a Best Picture nomination, I'm slightly surprised. Why is that? The Academy did nominate Up and Toy Story 3 for Best Picture in the years they were released (2009 and 2010 respectively), and there are more than five Best Picture nominees these days thanks to the cries over The Dark Knight and WALL-E not getting the recognition they deserved back in 2008. I guess the Academy either felt that it wasn't strong enough, or that there were too many strong films to pick from, or maybe Up and Toy Story 3's nominations were their kind way of getting us off their backs.
I don't know, but I would've liked for an animated film to get a Best Picture nomination. I wish for it every year actually, and this is the first year since 2010 where one of the films actually had a legitimate shot at getting nominated. Why do I think that? Inside Out, on top of being a critical darling, is backed by a massive company that probably has some strong influence. Thematically, it's perfect for the Oscars. If the Academy actually gave two darns about quality films of every medium, perhaps Inside Out and Anomalisa would've been up for Best Picture, among many other things that animated films often don't get recognized for. *cough*directing*cough*acting*cough*
But we already know the Academy's, and most people's, stance on animation. It's a sideshow to them, it's not "real" filmmaking, it's mostly for kids, it's not serious, etc. When the nominees for Best Animated Film are presented, things usually go by at a brisk clip. The presenters are either kids, or adults acting like clowns. Far too often, they show clips that don't give you an idea of how special these films are. (For instance, for 2012's animated line-up, they chose the disco dance scene from Wreck-It Ralph... Really?)
The Academy only nominated Beauty and the Beast way back when because 1991 wasn't a strong year, and Disney had aggressively campaigned for it, on top of the critical reception and box office performance. Apparently it getting nominated upset so many that the Academy made it their mission to avoid dreaded cartoons since then, until other studios started stepping it up in the mid-to-late 90s (i.e. Pixar, Iron Giant, Chicken Run), so the solution was a divisive token award. I've never been a huge fan of the category myself, for I think it still pushes animation into a corner or away from the "important" people's table. At the same time, without it, how would the great animated films of every year get recognition? Also, would the general public even hear of the indie films that get nominated?
Rambling aside, yes, the little gold statue doesn't mean much in the end. Inside Out is going to be loved and watched for generations, regardless of what it did or did not receive. Heck, most of the BP films released this year might be forgotten by most people in the next 10-20 years, while Inside Out still plays strong. For me personally, I'd love to see more animated films get BP nominations because it would help - maybe not much - clear away some of animation's image problem in the US of A.
The nominated shorts include Pixar's Sanjay's Super Team, Richard Williams' Prologue, Don Hertzfeldt's World of Tomorrow, Konstantin Bronzit's We Can't Live without Cosmos, and Gabriel Osorio/Pato Escala's Bear Story. I'd like to see Williams take it home, but I have a feeling they'll give it to Pixar, which is still good because Sanjay's Super Team was their best short since Day & Night.
Oh, and... Kudos to them for nominating Mad Max: Fury Road for Best Picture. One of the best films of the year, and one of the best of the decade so far. Hyperbole? Maybe, but yeah, it's that good to me.
What's your take? What should win? Are you happy with the nominations? Sound off below!