Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Frontrunners: Best Animated Feature Nominees Announced

It has begun...

Five films have been nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar...

The choices are no surprise, really. Zootopia, Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, My Life as a Zucchini, and The Red Turtle. Two are universally-acclaimed Disney animated features, one is a stop-motion adventure from a beloved house, another is a stop-motion film from a mainstay distributor, and the last one is a French production with help from none other than Studio Ghibli. In a year of strong mainstreamers and very strong indies, this batch isn't too bad.

We could perhaps argue that something like Your Name. or April, and the Extraordinary World deserved the last indie slot over The Red Turtle, or we could argue that Finding Dory was better than Moana, but overall I'm pretty content. Dory not making it is a bit bittersweet for me. I can acknowledge the movie's issues, at the same time it would've nice to see a film about disabilities at least be in the running. But a spade is a spade, I felt Moana had a tighter story structure and a little more verve. On the bright side, Life, Animated is up for Best Documentary, a film about how the Disney animated classics greatly helped an autistic boy through his life. Kind of evens things out, for me.

I'll be very happy if either Zootopia or Kubo take it home. One is Disney Animation at their greatest (I have it close to the Walt films I hold so near-and-dear), the other is a LAIKA masterpiece. Both near-perfect films, and of course the Academy Awards lived up to their predictability by not giving one of these two marvels a Best Picture nomination. I guess Toy Story 3's nomination will be the last time the Academy puts an inferior cartoon movie on the level of a "real", "legitimate" live-action movie... Despite having one more slot, but no. Nine it is. What else is new?

On the bright side, Kubo and the Two Strings broke some ground! It is the first caricature animation film to get a nod for Best Visual FX since The Nightmare Before Christmas... Way back in 1993, when there was no "Best Animated Feature" category. The Jungle Book is also up for that, though the movie is technically a 99% fully animated movie with one live-action element. Given the acclaim, it could've been up for Best Picture or Best Animated Feature, but the latter category is obviously for animated movies that aren't trying to be exact recreations of real life.

Best Animated Short... One mainstreamer (Pixar's Piper), a VR short by Feast director Patrick Osborne (Pearl), a film made possible by Pixar's Co-op program (Borrowed Time), and two indie entries (Blind Vaysha and Pearl Cider and Cigarettes). I'm rooting for Borrowed Time, not only because it was a great Western piece for adults that was smart (American adult animation not relying on gratuitous violence and sex?!), but because I heard from a reputable source that The Walt Disney Company gave Pixar guff over this project. I want it to win, even if it doesn't teach a lesson or two.

Anyways, it seems obvious that Zootopia takes home the feature statue. What takes home the other statue?

To recap, I'm rooting for:
Feature: Zootopia and/or Kubo and the Two Strings 
Short: Borrowed Time
Docu: Life, Animated

What say you?


  1. I'm definitely rooting for "Zootopia", and I think it has the best chance of winning. The nominees are pretty close to what I expected, though I thought "Finding Dory" had a slight chance of beating out "Moana" and "Your Name" beating out "My Life As A Zucchini". I thought Dory was one of Pixar's weaker movies (though I can understand why others like it so much), so I can't say I'm disappointed it didn't get a nomination.

    In terms of shorts, the only one I've seen so far is "Piper". Which LOOKED really amazing, but wasn't really that memorable to me. I'm a little surprised "Inner Workings" didn't get nominated. Like I said, I can't comment on the others, but I found it a lot more interesting and entertaining than "Piper".

    1. I agree with you on 'Piper'. People were praising it, calling it the best Pixar short in years. I thought it was well-made and a lot of fun, but I felt 'Sanjay's Super Team' was better, and I didn't dislike 'Lava' or 'The Blue Umbrella'. Really, it was just about a bird overcoming a big fear - nothing too special. Told in a cool way, but not the best thing ever.

      'Inner Workings' was fun, too, maybe a little overdone in parts but visually great. I liked the message, even if the execution wasn't great. I'd say both shorts are kind of neck-and-neck. If anything, 'Inner Workings' probably didn't make it because the pickers only wanted one big mainstream short in the running.