Did the Right Film Win? 2012 Animated Oscars

So I finally finished my video on the 2012 Oscars.  Sorry this one took me so long (and it was a pain to edit today also!).

In 2012 we had 5 nominees and they all have their strengths.

Brave– I recently talked about that in my Pixar review.  It is a flawed film that doesn’t deliver what it promises in the first 15 minutes.  It is supposed to be an epic legend but turns out to be a domestic dispute between a mother and a daughter.  I don’t mind that but it is a letdown when we are promised something mythic.  I do like Merida, the music and the animation is top notch.  I personally feel they took a lot of the lessons from Brave and used them to make Frozen better.

Paranorman- My favorite Liaka film and a film that made my top 50 animated films (so clearly I like it).  I really like the character of Norman and the fresh take they have on the bully narrative with the bullied becoming the bully.  I think it is very scary and funny with unique world building and character design.

Frankenweenie-  This was a new one for me.  I had avoided it because I really don’t care for Tim Burton’s style of movies.  However, I must admit that I thought it was charming.  I really liked the relationship between Victor and Sparky.  It makes you want to cry when he loses his dog and all the homages to the classic horror films are a lot of fun.  I also enjoy how they made it in black and white.  Overall a very entertaining film with a lot of heart.

Pirates Band of Misfits- One of Aardman’s best films with incredible attention to detail it is an underrated film.  They pack in the laughs and yet still tell a good story with the Captain wanting to win Pirate of the Year and his interactions with both Charles Darwin and Queen Victoria.  If you haven’t seen it trust me it is worth a watch!

Wreck-it Ralph– A film that starts out and ends strong but gets mired in a bland Sugar Rush world in the middle section.  Most people love this film but I think it is good but not perfect.  I like the character of Ralph but Vanellope I find annoying.  With the power cord train station they promise you all the worlds of the video games and yet spend 75 minutes in Sugar Rush, which to me is a disappointment.  But it is still an enjoyable film.  The villain reveal is done very well and I love Sergeant Tamora.

Like I said in the video, I think most people would pick Wreck-it Ralph for 2012 Oscar.  I can totally see that.  Of course, Brave won in a bit of an upset.  I personally would give it to Paranorman but I know I’m in the deep minority on that.  They are all enjoyable films. 🙂

What would be your pick?

Hit Me with Your Best Shot: Chicken Run

chicken run2I’ve been eagerly awaiting this week’s Hit Me with Your Best Shot as it is an animated film, and one that I happen to love at that- Aardman animation’s 2000 Chicken Run.

I know this is about chickens instead of turkey but it has become a bit of a Thanksgiving tradition at my house to watch Chicken Run.   It certainly beats Free Birds as a Thanksgiving film and I don’t think there are any other movies about poultry.  Am I wrong?

I watched it again today and was delighted all over again.  This will be more like a traditional review from me since animation is my blog focus but at the bottom I will have my best shot like normal.

If you haven’t seen it, Chicken Run is a claymation, stop motion animation take on a prison escape movie like The Great Escape.

It focuses on Ginger (Minnie Driver), a plucky chicken at Tweedy egg farm who refuses to be satisfied with a life at the farm.  She is really the only intelligent chicken in the lot.  Well, there is the braniac chicken but she’s the only one that seems to understand what they are up against.

The design of the farm is brilliant with hen houses that look like the cabins of the Great Escape. All of Ginger’s attempts to escape feel very reminiscent of those pictures. I like this shot the bunk has 17 on it like Stallag 17, another famous prison war movie.

chicken run9The chickens end up failing in all of their attempts and Farmer Tweedy gets suspicious the “chickens are organizing!” which his wife Mrs Tweedy thinks is insane.  She’s the main villain of the picture and a lot of fun in a Cruella Deville type fashion. Her dream is to turn the chickens into pies and she buys a giant manufacturing machine to make the pies.

chicken run6With the purchase of the new machine Ginger is about to lose hope when a rooster named Rocky comes flying in to the farm.  Ginger knows he is from the circus but thinks he has somehow learned how to fly.  To Ginger this could be their salvation.  Perhaps he can teach them how to fly!  chicken run17Of course what he isn’t telling them is he is shot out of a canon and can’t fly, but he needs to hide out from the circus while they are in town so he plays along and begins training them on how to fly.  This involves a really fun montage of chickens doing pushups and the like.

chicken run20There’s also an amazing sequence where Rocky and Ginger get caught in the pie making machine.  It’s in the spirit of Indiana Jones and adventure movies with all kinds of obstacles to conquer.  It blows my mind when you watch this scene and remember it is all done with moving clay figures inch by inch.

The ending plays out in a fairly predictable way for this genre of movie but Mrs Tweedy is pretty scary, maybe too much for some kids? As is always the case it depends on the child.

chicken run19

Thing that makes this movie special is the writing.  It is funny throughout.  Not just the homages to escape movies but the dialogue is witty and will make you laugh.  Pter Lord and Nick Park bring the same type of humor we got in Wallace and Gromit with perhaps more of a visual component added in.  (Karey Kirkpatrick is the screenwriter with a story by Lord and Park).

All the other aspects are very strong including great music by John Powell and Harry Gregson- Williams.  I particularly like “Flip, Flop, Fly” a great swing number!

Plus, I like the way the chickens look.  I like the smoothness of the skin and the feather collar and feather underneath.  To me it is a pleasing design. All the sets are incredibly detailed and intricate especially when you consider they are all done by hand (stop motion animation is unbelievable).

chicken run10I always say when I judge a comedy the number one factor is- Did it make me laugh?  The answer for Chicken Run is Yes!  I laughed back in 2000 and I laughed today watching it.  It’s a delight in every other way so I can ignore a somewhat predictable story.

For me it is a big win!

Overall Grade- A

BEST SHOT-

Hit Me with Your Best Shot can be difficult because do you pick the shot that gave you the most pleasure or the one that looks the best?  The two are not always the same.

My favorite joke in the movie is when Ginger tells the girls about the pies and Babs (the knitting chicken) says “I don’t want to be a pie.  I don’t even like gravy”.  I don’t’ know why but that cracks me up every time.

But the shot of her saying that line isn’t that great.  I will go with the line just after it and you can see the mayhem on the part of the hens at this news.  I think it is emblematic of the entire film, the claymation style and I love the expressions on the chickens faces.  So great!

chicken run12My youtube review can be found here