The nominees for the Academy Awards were announced today. There were some interesting inclusions and omissions. As for the snubs, with only nine pictures nominated as Best Feature, why couldn’t Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 be thrown a bone? Sure, it would never win, but it would be a nice honor for the end of this landmark series.
The second omission, and this is no real surprise, is that Andy Serkis was not nominated for his performance in Rise of the Planet of the Apes—the Academy’s actors are not ready to recognize performance capture as legitimate acting.
The third omission, a little more puzzling but related, was not nominating The Adventures of Tintin in the Best Animated Feature category—apparently animators are just as finicky about what they consider to be animation as the actors are of what is considered acting.
Finally, I was a bit surprised that I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat from Warner Bros. was not nominated in the Animated Short category—although personally, I’m not a big fan of the CGI versions of these beloved characters.
Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
A Cat in Paris (2010): Alain Gagnol, Jean-Loup Felicioli
This French crime caper has garnered a lot of critical praise. The preview looks great and I’m looking forward to seeing it. I’ll be surprised, however, if it takes home the Oscar.
Chico & Rita (2010): Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal
This Spanish-language romance is full of amazing music and deals realistically with the political tensions between the U.S. and Cuba. The artwork is gorgeous, but as with A Cat in Paris, it will be hard for a foreign language picture to win.
Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011): Jennifer Yuh
Yeah, it made a boatload of money, but it was a pale imitation of the first Kung Fu Panda movie. A better choice would have been Arthur Christmas or The Adventures of Tintin.
Puss in Boots (2011): Chris Miller
A charming adventure story whose success is due to the charisma of Antonio Banderas as the title character. Forget the last two Shrek movies—Puss in Boots is a funny, action-packed escapade that deserves to be nominated.
Rango (2011): Gore Verbinski
My choice for the best animated feature. It was an exciting action movie with tons of humor that paid tribute to classic westerns.
Best Short Film, Animated
Dimanche (Sunday) (2011): Patrick Doyon blog.doiion.com
The first of two nominated shorts from the National Film Board of Canada, Dimanche tells the story of a bored boy on a typical Sunday—going to church, visiting his relatives, and getting into mischief. The animation style is simple and rendered beautifully. Although it has almost no dialog, it is charming and witty.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (2011): William Joyce, Brandon Oldenburg www.morrislessmore.com
This short film mixes miniatures, CGI, and traditional animation into a delightful journey into a fantasyland of living books. William Joyce (Robots, Meet the Robinsons) pays tribute to Hurricane Katrina, silent films, and the power of literature. This is my pick to win–it is the best short animated film I’ve seen in a long time. The film is available as a free download from iTunes.
La Luna (2011): Enrico Casarosa www.pixar.com
La Luna tells the story of a boy being introduced to an unusual family business. It’s hard to bet against anything Pixar produces; if Morris Lessmore doesn’t win, La Luna almost certainly will. La Luna is scheduled to be released with Pixar’s feature Brave later this year.
A Morning Stroll (2011): Grant Orchard, Sue Goffe www.studioaka.co.uk
This is a British short about a New Yorker’s early morning encounter with a chicken. It’s a clever shaggy dog (er, shaggy chicken) story with an inventive mix of styles and techniques.
Wild Life (2011): Amanda Forbis, Wendy Tilby www.nfb.ca
The second of two shorts from the National Film Board of Canada, Wild Life chronicles a rich young man’s attempts at cattle farming in Alberta in 1909. Told in a pseudo-documentary style, this beautiful, traditionally animated tale shows the folly of someone arrogantly disregarding common sense.