2015 Animated Oscars: Did the Right Film Win?

I’m very excited to announce my next video reviewing the Oscar nominees for Best Animated Feature Film is up!  I have reviewed every year from 2001-2015.  Here’s the entire playlist and the Animated Oscars Tag videos people have done.   It’s a long video, so perhaps a good one to listen while doing another task.  If you like it please give it a thumbs up.  Thanks!

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7wz447AgL4x2fxnrGhVdu-6ZZa8v18Vl

Here are my base thoughts on each of the nominees.

boy and the world poster2Boy and the World-

A beautiful hand drawn animated film by Ale Abreu that tells the story of a little boy looking for his father.  Using basically no dialogue Abreu creates a kaleidoscope of colors and textures as the boy ventures into the city and confronts war, waste, commercialism and fear.  Sometimes it can be heavy handed and a bit self-indulgent but it’s also bright, colorful and fun.  The music is infectious and will make you smile.

anomalisaAnomalisa-

A somewhat cynical yet thought provoking stop motion animated film from Charlie Kaufman for adults. The animation is fluid and smooth as it focuses on a man named Michael who has become disenfranchised with the people in his life.  Everyone looks, behaves and even sounds the same.  Then he meets Lisa who is different and this excites him.  Some of the adult content I felt was distracting from what really made Lisa special. We could have dug deeper but instead we get superficial differences like a scar or voice. Still, it will definitely make you think and if you can handle the content worth a watch.

inside out3Inside Out-

I don’t know how I could say more about this film.  It was my favorite film of 2015 and it is rapidly becoming one of my favorite animated films of all time.  I have found myself watching it most weeks since I got it on blu-ray.  There’s just something about the dual stories of Riley and Joy that doesn’t age for me.  It improves each time I see it.  I love the humor, visual splendor, and heart.  The end when Riley admits to her parents ‘I miss home’ is perfect.  Joy’s journey when she finally realizes that happiness requires sadness is equally strong.  Perfection from Pixar.

shaun the sheep posterShaun the Sheep-

A delight from the team at Aardman.  A spin off from the TV show (which is great and you can watch on Amazon Prime) Shaun is tired of his boring routine and wants a day off.  So him and his friends go to the big city and have an adventure.  It has the spirit of a silent comedy with minimal dialogue and some great visual jokes.  I loved when the Farmer becomes a barber to the stars.  It’s a sweet, simple, endearing film.  And of course, the animation is wonderful as is usually the case from Aardman.  I wish more people in US saw their great films.

when marnie9When Marnie was There-

This film really impacted me emotionally.  Seeing the journey of Anna as she struggles with deep depression and her family’s effort to save her is very beautiful.  The main message is that we all have love in our lives.  The key is recognizing that love, both here on earth and from those who have passed on.  We all have love, and that love has power to rescue.  The animation is stunning.  I particularly loved the sound mixing and how lush everything felt.  The ending may not work for everyone but I thought it was pure truth. Great way for Studio Ghibli to go out. The music and song by Priscilla Ahn is gorgeous.

————————————

So 5 wonderful films!  It’s funny looking over these 5 nominees I feel 2015 is a bit of a an underrated year.  It certainly was a diverse year especially when you consider 2 very strong films, Peanuts Movie and Good Dinosaur, that were not nominated.  And how amazing is it to have a year with only 1 CG film nominated for Best Animated Feature Film.  2014 only had 2. Take that 2D animation is dead crowd! 😉

Anyway, I think you guys know Inside Out is the clear winner in my books; although, I think all 5 are quality films.  As I said earlier, Inside Out is a game changer for me.  A film I will never forget.

What about you?  What do you think of the nominees and do you think the right film won?

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Thoughts (Not a Review) of Anomalisa

anomalisaSince viewing it in January, I have struggled with the best way to share my thoughts on 2015 Oscar nominee Anomalisa.  Mainly how could I post a review of a film that I skipped large portions of for content reasons?  Finally, I just decided to post my thoughts rather than a review.  I think I saw enough of Anomalisa to give an opinion on the style and overall production, but can’t in good conscience give a traditional review.

Anomalisa was the brainchild of director Charlie Kaufman.  He originally wrote it as a ‘sound play’, which I must confess I had never heard of before researching this film.  I didn’t know people went to plays just to hear dialogue?  Cool.

So, eventually Kaufman decided to put up a kickstarter for an Anomalisa short and the decision was made to use puppets and change it to feature length film.  The puppets were made using 3D printers and 18 Michaels and 6 Lisas were designed.  There are only 3 vocal performances in Anomalisa- Michael (David Thewlis), Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Everyone else (Tom Noonan).

anomalisa4According to Kaufman the goal of the film was to “forget they were looking at something animated and just get wrapped up in the scene,” further explaining that “the challenge we felt with so much animated stuff is that you’re always conscious of the animation, and we kept asking, ‘What if we could escape that? What would it be like?”

After viewing the film several times I would say they achieved their goals.  The animation in Anomalisa is gorgeous.  I’m a huge stop motion junkie and to see the fluidity and expressions of the characters is remarkable.  Also it has this unique mix of artistry and realism that I haven’t seen before.  Like there are times when you forget you are watching stop motion but then the lines around the characters faces remind you.  So at one moment you are both immersed in the world and reminded it is art.  I don’t know if that makes sense but there is definitely that dichotomy in the art design.

anomalisa9The main story behind Anomalisa is it’s about a man named Michael who is traveling to Cincinnati to deliver a speech on his book on customer service.  To Michael everyone appears, even sounds the same.  The world has become streamlined and boring and he has lost hope in anything but a robot-like existence.

anomalisa8He ends up making his way to his hotel, briefly having dinner with an old flame and then meeting a woman named Lisa who has come to hear him speak.  She fascinates Michael because of a scar on her face and something different in her demeanor and personality. As they get to know each other better he refers to her as Anomalisa (an anomaly named Lisa).  They become more intimate and then the story plays out more or less how you might predict.

anomalisa3So, let’s address the elephant in the room.  As someone who doesn’t usually watch a lot of rated R content, there was a lot in Anomalisa I had to skip over.  That is why I didn’t feel I could give it a true ‘review’. I skipped at least 20 minutes of the film.  The sensuality and language in Anomalisa is extremely strong.  Even with skipping I was still shocked at how R rated it truly is.

I actually think this is more than just a moral problem with the film.  The first 2/3rd you have interesting character development and then the final act with all the sexuality becomes kind of expected and one note.  I wonder if being sexually daring may have created a distraction on the core story and message? Needless to say, I didn’t feel I missed anything by skipping over it and if that’s the case was it really that important?

anomalisa7Charlie Kaufman’s messaging in Anomalisa is a pretty cynical one and definitely won’t be for everyone.  Michael loves Lisa because she is different, an anomaly; however, when they eat breakfast together her mannerisms start to drive him crazy.  He then starts to see her as everyone else and has a kind of manic episode while delivering his speech.  Kaufman seems to be asking ‘are we all the same’ and if we are- what’s the point in living in all that sameness?

anomalisa2I’m not really sure Kaufman has an answer, which is very depressing.  Maybe it’s just to have sensual experiences or to hope to find an actual anomalisa one day? That if we keep trying we will find something unique?  Like I said, it’s a pretty cynical message.

That said, I do relate to the message in a certain way.  When I was unhappy in my work the world did feel the same- just rows of cubicles and repetitive acts with no meaning or love attached to them.  I was miserable and it’s hard to be hopeful when mundanity  has taken over your life.  I know I would rather do anything than work at desk with a cubicle like the scores of Lisas do in Michael’s dream.

anomalisa19There’s even a philosophic concept behind Kaufman’s visuals.  It has to do with the reality of ‘the other’. When we meet another human being we are immediately struck by their sense of being or their humanity.  Then we, in an attempt to order what’s around us, turn them into the same.  So, a person is human but then they are a more of the same- a woman, an ethnicity, age, race, religion etc.  We all do it. It’s human nature.

Once someone is the same they can be treated differently than when they are a unique being.  We can see that in Michael’s treatment of Lisa.  When she is an anomaly she is prized but as soon as she is the same he is done with her.

anomalisa12I guess where I wonder about Kaufman’s cynicism is can you really know someone’s sameness or uniqueness from one night of sex? Most of what Michael is depressed over comes from kind of superficial observations and even with Lisa he really doesn’t get to know her very well before judging  her as both an angel and then a bland bore. But then again, that’s kind of what happens when we are depressed so maybe that’s what Kaufman is trying to show?

Actor David Thewlis voices Michael Stone as he engages in puppet showering, puppet profanity, puppet nudity and puppet hallucinations.

It’s another reason I think the sensuality becomes a distraction in the last third of the story.  I really wanted to find out more of why Michael is so cynical and depressed.  I mean we’ve seen the morose suburbanite contemplating sameness so many times (American Beauty, Birdman…) that aside from the stop motion I’m not sure what is so new about Kaufman’s insight here?

Even his wife’s attempt to throw a surprise party is seen as more of the same to Michael.  What could make him happy?  Evidently it is finding more Anomalisa’s but since the Anomalisa was a disappointment it seems a hopeless endeavor?  I don’t think Michael will ever find what he is looking for, which is very depressing.

anomalisa5My final thoughts on Anomalisa is it is striking and beautiful in many ways.   I like the core idea of examining sameness and the other but it’s not exactly new to cinema. Sure the animation is different and the adult content shocking, but Kaufman is so relentlessly cynical it becomes frustrating.  In many ways the cynical answer is kind of easy where a more hopeful one takes work and a more complex view of human beings.

I wish instead of spending the final third act shocking the audience with sexual content Kaufman had explored some kind of solution for Michael.  I’m not saying he has to be happy and everything be solved but maybe a more complicated answer than we are all robots and there is no hope would be more thought provoking?

But that said, I do appreciate the artistry and ambition of Anomalisa.  It’s definitely something that will make you think about your own life and if you are an Anomalisa or just like everyone else. (Also are you judgemental like Michael and TURN everyone into the same when they are actually unique?). I appreciate the questions the film asks and the way it is animated.  I think the third act gets distracted with the adult content but as I skipped over some of those segments there may be insight I missed.

No grade from me for Anomalisa, as this is not a review, but I hope that insight was helpful.  Make sure you know this is a strong R rated film and definitely not for everyone.  Even skipping the sexual content, there is a lot of profanity and vulgarity, so be forewarned.

So what did you think of Anomalisa?  I will definitely be curious for your thoughts on this one!

Ranking Best Picture Winners by Nels Danburg

Hey guys my youtube friend Nels just finished this awesome series where he ranks all of the best picture winners.  I don’t agree with all of his placements but I respect his reasons and I love that he goes over all the nominees of each year.  It’s amazing for how young he is how he has seen all of the nominees and has thoughtful opinions about them. They deserve more hits so give them a view and a thumbs up!

2016 Rachies

Oscar statuettes are displayed at Times Square Studios 23 January 2006 in New York. The statuettes will be presented to winners of the 78th Academy Awards 05 March 2006 in Hollywood.

In spirit of the Oscars (which I will not be watching this year because I am not a Chris Rock fan and they will only tick me off like they did last year) I am giving my own nominations and winners for the major categories (as well as making my own categories up!).   Last year the Rachies were all animation.  This year since I saw so many more films I expanded it.  So if I ran the world this is how it would all go down!

Best Picture

Nominees-

Brooklyn

Spotlight

The Martian

Inside Out (I’ll award it later)

45 Years

Ex-Machina

Mad Max Fury Road

Star Wars Force Awakens

Best Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

Matt Damon (The Martian)

Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)

Emory Cohen (Brooklyn)

Michael B Jordan (Creed)

Best Actress

Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)

Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

Alicia Vikander (Testament of Youth)

Carey Mulligan (Far From the Madding Crowd)

I’ll See You in My Dreams (Blythe Danner)

Supporting Actress

Julie Walters (Paddington)

Cate Blanchett (Cinderella)

Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)

Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

Alicia Vikander (Ex-Machina)

Supporting Actor

Oscar Isaac (Ex-Machina)

Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Henry Adofo (Freetown)

Kyle Chandler (Carol)

Ian McKellan (Mr Holmes)

Animated Film

Good Dinosaur

Peanuts Movie

Inside Out

When Marnie was There

Cheatin’

Animated Short (I didn’t use any anthology shorts)

Sanjay’s Super Team

World of Tomorrow

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos

Le Gouffre

An Object at Rest

Best Song

Fine On the Outside (When Marnie was There)

Cold One (Ricki and the Flash)

See You Again (Furious 7)

Writings on the Wall (Spectre)

Better When I’m Dancin’ (Peanuts Movie)

Best Score-

I only picked movies I’ve actually seen for these nominations so no Ennio Morricone for Hateful Eight

Ben Salisbury, Geoff Barrow (Ex-Machina)

Tom Holkenborg (Mad Max Fury Road)

Michael Giacchino (Inside Out)

Max Richter (Testament of Youth)

Michael Brook (Brooklyn)

Best Vocal Performance in Animated Film

Raymond Ocha (Good Dinosaur)

Noah Schnapp (Peanuts Movie)

Amy Poehler (Inside Out)

Phyllis Smith (Inside Out)

Richard Kind (Inside Out)

Best Director

Pete Docter (Inside Out)

George Miller (Mad Max Fury Road)

Danny Boyle (Steve Jobs)

JJ Abrams (Star Wars: Force Awakens)

Todd Haynes (Carol)

Best Costumes

Carol

Brooklyn

Cinderella

Testament of Youth

Far from the Madding Crowd

Hair and Makeup

Mad Max Fury Road

Jupiter Ascending

Cinderella

Star Wars Force Awakens

Carol

Cinematography

Rob Hardy (Testament of Youth)

Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant)

Charlotte Bruus Christensen (Far from the Madding Crowd)

Yves Belanger (Brooklyn)

John Seale (Mad Max Fury Road)

Production Design

Colin Gibson (Mad Max Fury Road)

Francois Seguin (Brooklyn)

Dante Ferretti (Cinderella)

Rick Carter (Star Wars: Force Awakens)

Adam Stockhausen (Bridge of Spies)

Best CG Characters in Live Action

Star Wars Force Awakens

Cinderella

Paddington

Ant-Man

Spongebob: Sponge out of Water

Best Visual Effects

Mad Max: Fury Road

Star Wars: Force Awakens

Avengers Age of Ultron

Ex-Machina

The Revenant

Best Screenplay

Inside Out

Brooklyn

Spotlight

The Big Short

The Martian

Best Faith Based Film

Kahlil Gibran The Prophet

Woodlawn

Freetown

Once I was a Beehive

Old Fashioned

Best Ensemble

The Big Short

Spotlight

Inside Out

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Avengers: Age of Ultron

 Best Kiss (these shows take themselves way too seriously)

Age of Adaline

Far from the Madding Crowd

The DUFF

Cinderella

Brooklyn

My congrats to all the nominees and winners. 🙂

2016 Oscar Nominated Short Reviews

I’ve been wanting to do this post for some time but I had a hard time finding 2 of the nominated animated shorts for this years Oscars.  I finally was able to watch them all and thought I would give you my thoughts.

animated shorts5Bear Story

Coming out of Chili by director Gabriel Osorio Vargas Bear Story is about a bear who builds diorama’s kind of like what we saw in Hugo.  He is a lonely bear and tells the story of that loneliness through the diorama.  The animation is beautiful with a heavy steampunk feel to it.

Basically the story is the bear is taken from his family to perform in the circus.  You get that sadness mixed in with the fun of the circus. Each scene is layered with movement and details.  It is extremely charming.

Overall Grade B+

animated shorts1Prologue

Animator Richard Williams vision of ancient warfare is definitely a unique nominee.  It is done using a pencil, hand drawn style and the animation is quite striking.  When it focuses on a characters eyes or face it reminded me of a lithograph or an etching.

However, this film is ADULTS ONLY!  I am not being quaint or hesitant when I say that.  It is extremely bloody and  the nudity is graphic and repeated.  For a short that is just over 5 minutes it is kind of astonishing how R rated it could be!

Evidently it is accurate to ancient warriors for them to fight naked (who knew?) but there really isn’t any story here that I could see at least.  It is people brutally killing each other and then at the end a girl stands in shock over the blood.  I guess that is a message about war but not particularly inventive or thought provoking in my opinion.

Maybe we will learn more in future episodes? It is called Prologue after all

Overall Grade- C-

animated shorts44We Can’t Live Without Cosmos

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos is out of Russia and directed and written by Konstantin Bronzit.  It may not have the most stunning animation but the story makes up for any failings in that department.

It is 2D animation in the style of TV animation like The Simpsons, and tells the story of 2 best friends who dream of becoming cosmonauts.  It starts with them in training and they joyously complete every task.  At one point they even leap off of their beds trying to get a feeling of zero gravity.

I don’t want to spoil it for you but suffice it to say I love stories of friendship and this one had my heart. It is very sweet and lovely.

Overall Grade- A

animated shorts2World of Tomorrow

Oh boy…how do I explain World of Tomorrow?  To be honest Don Hertzfeldt’s sci-fi study of human nature makes me feel kind of dumb.  I’ve seen it a lot and I still don’t really get it.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing but did it need to be quite so obtuse?  I guess for Don’s artistic vision it did.

Basically it is about a little girl named Emily who receives a video transmission of a clone version of herself from the future.  This clone takes Little Emily into her current world where they have a land called ‘the Outernet’.

Clone Emily then takes Little Emily through different memories and then tells her that the earth will be destroyed by a meteoroid. Then Clone Emily reveals she came to see Little Emily to retrieve a memory she had forgotten.  She hopes this memory will be comforting for the end of the world.

So there you have it.  The main message is we should focus on the important stuff. That when the end comes the trivial will dissolve and only the most special memories will remain.  Technology  obscures the hear and now and makes us focus only on the fluff.

Clone Emily says

“Do not lose time on daily trivialities. Do not dwell on petty detail. For all of these things melt away and drift apart within the obscure traffic of time. Live well and live broadly. You are alive and living now. Now is the envy of all of the dead.”

The animation is brilliant and different in World of Tomorrow and I think it will win, and it is probably deserved.  On one hand I like it is layered and tricky to decipher it’s meaning, but I think it goes a little too far in that department, to the point of ostracizing me a bit as a viewer.  It’s great but I still don’t love it like some people do.

That said Overall Grade- A

animated shorts3

Sanjay’s Super Team

I have already done a whole blog post on Sanjay’s Super Team.  This is Pixar’s offering (Lava was actually submitted in 2014).  Everyone seems to think it is shoe-in for Sanjay to win this category but I did some research and Pixar actually doesn’t have a great track record here.  They haven’t won since 2001!  Even something like La Luna (my favorite Pixar short) was beat by Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore which is completely charming so I get it.  The academy seems to like to reward smaller studios in animated short category.

Anyway, Sanjay’s Super Team is directed by Sanjay Patel and it is inspired by his childhood growing up as an American boy with Hindu observant parents.  The story is little Sanjay is watching his favorite superhero show when his father is praying and meditating.  His father insists he join him and Sanjay starts out bored but imagines the Hindu Gods as superheroes.

It is a beautiful film about how a meeting of the minds can occur and generations can understand each other better.  The animation is bright and colorful, some of Pixar’s best, and the lesson Sanjay learns is very sweet.  He see’s that maybe his Dad’s crazy ideas aren’t so bad after all.

Overall Grade- A+

 

My thoughts on all 5.  Prologue is too R rated for me and lacks a good story so it is my least favorite. The other 4 I like a lot, even if World of Tomorrow makes my head hurt.  I would probably order them

  1. Sanjay’s Super Team
  2. We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
  3. World of Tomorrow
  4. Bear Story
  5. Prologue

Have you had a chance to see the animated shorts? I would love your thoughts. Which do you like the best? Do you think World of Tomorrow will win or are you pulling for another choice?

My Oscar Predictions, Snubs and Silly Noms

86th Annual Academy Awards - Red CarpetIt’s like a rite of passage in film community that you’ve got to give your Oscar predictions.  I am also going to note the snubs and nominations I think are nonsense. I will say I a notoriously awful at this so don’t put too much money on my predictions.

Best Picture- I have seen all of the nominees and I  think The Revenant will win. 

Out of this list I think Spotlight is leagues above the rest.  I’d order them like- Spotlight, The Martian, Brooklyn, Mad Max Fury Road, The Big Short, Room, The Revenant, Bridge of Spies. 

I would have nominated Inside Out for best picture as I think it was the most emotional (forgive the pun) and innovative film of the year. I also think Carol and Ex-Machina would have been worthy entries (and of course I love Star Wars: The Force Awakens but who are we kidding.  It didn’t stand a chance of being nominated).

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant (will win)

Room

Spotlight (dark horse)

Best Director- I think Inarritu will win for The Revenant because the academy loves him and the movie was hard to make (so are lots of movies.  That doesn’t mean it deserves to win. I mean Mad Max was a nightmare to make).  

Dark horse is George Miller who would be my pick. 

I would have loved to see Pete Docter in here for Inside Out (no, all my snubs won’t be for Inside Out).  I think Todd Haynes not getting nominated for Carol was a real snub.

Adam McKay, The Big Short

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road- dark horse

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant (will win)

Lenny Abrahamson, Room

Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

Best Actor- I haven’t seen Danish Girl or Trumbo. I think Leonardo DiCaprio will win for The Revenant and I am fine with that.

I am fine with the list although I loved Michael B Jordan in Creed.

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Matt Damon, The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant (will win)

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs (dark horse)

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Best Actress- I haven’t seen 45 Years but the rest are great performances.  It’s a race between Brie Larson and Cate Blanchett.  Oscar loves Blanchett and she is great in Carol. But Oscar also loves to honor new performers in this category so I say Brie Larson will win.  

Charlize Theron in Mad Max Fury Road and Carey Mulligan in Far From the Maddening Crowd would have been nice to see.

Cate Blanchett, Carol- dark horse

Brie Larson, Room (will win)

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Best Supporting Actor- Great list. I think Sylvester Stallone will win. 

Mark Rylance from Bridge of Spies is the dark horse and I’d be ok with him winning even though wasn’t nuts for the film. Mark Ruffalo would be my pick for Spotlight.

Idris Elba from Beasts of No Nation is the snub I’ve heard about but I have not see the film. Also Steve Carrell should have been nominated not Christian Bale for The Big Short.

Christian Bale, The Big Short

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies- dark horse

Sylvester Stallone, Creed (will win)

Best Supporting Actress- I have not seen Danish Girl or Hateful Eight.  I’m still going with Kate Winslet for the win with strong chance of Rooney Mara for Carol.  She’s good but it’s not a supporting performance.  Winslet is so good in Steve Jobs.

Only real snub is I think Alicia Vikander should have been nominated for Ex-Machina.

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol- dark horse

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs (will win)

Best Original Screenplay- I haven’t seen Straight Outta Compton. I clearly would pick Inside Out and think Bridge of Spies screenplay was actually really weak.  It drops storylines and only has 2 developed characters, but as I seem to be one of the only one’s who realizes that it gets the nomination.  I think Spotlight will win this one.

Bridge of Spies

Ex Machina- dark horse

Inside Out

Spotlight (will win)

Straight Outta Compton

Best Adapted Screenplay- I’ve seen all of these films and I think The Big Short will win with an outside chance for Brooklyn and Carol.  I personally would give it to Brooklyn.

Big snub on this is Steve Jobs; although, if I’m honest I’m kind of glad as I think Aaron Sorkin is a bit overrated and writes mostly one-note characters.

The Big Short (will win)

Brooklyn dark horse

Carol- dark horse

The Martian

Room

Best Animated Feature- I’ve seen all of these films and they are all worthy nominees.  I think Inside Out will win with Anomalisa being the dark horse.

The obvious snub is The Peanuts Movie, which I think is better than Boy and the World.  It is certainly less heavy handed and preachy.  Plus, what it did with hybrid animation should have been recognized. 

I also think Good Dinosaur for it’s stunning animation should have gotten a nomination over Anomalisa although they are such different films it’s hard to compare them.

Anomalisa- dark horse

Boy and the World

Inside Out (will win)

Shaun the Sheep Movie

When Marnie Was There

Best Foreign Language Film- Haven’t seen any of these but only one I’ve heard any buzz on is Son of Saul and Hollywood loves Holocaust movies.

Embrace of the Serpent

Mustang

Son of Saul (will win)

Theeb

A War

Best Documentary Feature- Only seen Amy but this is between Amy and Cartel Land.  As I find Amy to be very overrated I would love for Cartel Land to win but it probably will go to Amy.

Amy (will win)

Cartel Land- dark horse

The Look of Silence

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Best Cinematography- The Revenant will win with an outside chance for Sicario to reward Roger Deakins.  I loved the cinematography in Far From the Maddening Crowd and in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Carol

The Hateful Eight

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant (will win)

Sicario- dark horse

Best Film Editing- This is between The Big Short and Mad Max Fury Road.  I would give it to Mad Max and I think it will win. The editing in that film was amazing.

The Big Short- dark horse

Mad Max: Fury Road (will win)

The Revenant

Spotlight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Production Design- This one is a tough one to predict.  I think this might be Bridge of Spies win, which I would be ok with as the film looked great.  The fact that The Revenant beat out Brooklyn and Carol in this category is complete nonsense.  I wouldn’t be surprised if The Revenant won for designing great snow and about 15 minutes of set and props.  Nonsense. 

Out of these nominees The Martian is my clear favorite; although I have not seen The Danish Girl.

Bridge of Spies (will win)

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road- dark horse

The Martian- dark horse

The Revenant- dark horse

Best Costume Design- I think Carol will win this one although I could see Cinderella winning. 

Only snub is Far From the Maddening Crowd for costumes.

Carol (will win)

Cinderella- dark horse

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Best Original Score- I think Ennio Morricone will win for the Hateful 8.  He’s a legend and the music is great.  I’m fine with all these nominees although I love the music in When Marnie was There and Inside Out.

Bridge of Spies

Carol

The Hateful Eight (will win)

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens- dark horse (never count out John Williams)

Best Original Song- I think Writing on the Wall will win for Spectre. 

I would have nominated Fine on the Outside from When Marnie was There and When I See You Again from Furious 7.

“Earned It,” 50 Shades Of Grey

“Manta Ray,” Racing Extinction

“Simple Song #3,” Youth

“Til It Happens to You,” The Hunting Ground-  dark horse

“Writing’s on the Wall,” Spectre (will win)

Best Visual Effects- Great list.  I think this will be Star Wars win and it is deserved.  Ex-Machina or The Revenant could be the dark horse. 

I think Ant-Man could have been nominated but I like all of the nominees in this category.

Ex Machina- dark horse

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant- dark horse

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (will win)

Best Makeup & Hairstyling- Why only 3 nominees? Far from the Maddening Crowd, Cinderella, Carol, Star Wars all had terrific makeup.  If it is the Revenant’s night than it will probably win although between the 2 I’d pick Mad Max.

I actually think for hairstyling Jupiter Ascending should have been nominated.

Mad Max- dark horse

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared

The Revenant (will win)

Best Sound Mixing- These are all pretty good nominees.  Mad Max Fury Road is my best guess but I can see any of them being a dark horse winner.  My favorite would be the sounds created for Star Wars.

Bridge of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road (will win)

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens- dark horse

Best Sound Editing- These sound similar but they really aren’t.  I think Mad Max will take this one.  Star Wars or The Revenant could be dark horse.

Mad Max: Fury Road- (will win)

The Martian

The Revenant- dark horse

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens- dark horse

Best Documentary Short- Haven’t seen any of them so just guessing on this one.

Body Team 12

Chau Behind the Lines

Claude Lanzman

A Girl in the River

Last Day of Freedom- will win

Best Live Action Short Film- Haven’t seen any of them so just guessing on this one (wish Academy would make the shorts available to more theaters)

Ave Maria

Day One

Everything Will Be Okay

Shok (will win)

Stutterer

Best Animated Short Film- I have seen all of these films! I think World of Tomorrow will win.  It’s been available on Netflix and the academy actually has been pretty artsy in this category.  Pixar surprisingly hasn’t won that many times.

Bear Story

Prologue

Sanjay’s Super Team- dark horse

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos

World of Tomorrow- (will win)

Boy and the World Review

boy and the world poster2If you guys read my response to the Oscar nominations you may recall my disappointment at The Peanuts Movie being snubbed for Best Animated Feature Film.   In it’s place was a film called Boy and the World or o Menino eo Mundo in Portuguese.  I had heard of this film but it had mostly fallen under my radar so the nomination was a big surprise.  Today I had the chance to see the film and I can see why it got nominated.  I don’t know if I would pick it over Peanuts Movie but a lot of that comes down to personal artistic taste.

Boy and the World is directed by Brazilian animator Ale Abreu and was released in that country back in 2013.  It is made using mostly sketch animation with some live action imagery and paper mache thrown in.  The film’s biggest strength is it’s wild imaginative artistry.  It’s a real joy to watch.

boy and the world9999It’s a simple story about a boy who is devastated when his father leaves the family to go and find work in the city.

boy and the world89They plant a tree on his departure but the boy is still very upset.

boy and the world 7He goes on a journey to find his father and bring him back to the family but in so doing he dives into the city and confronts all kinds of people, industry, conflict and more.

boy and the world6 boy and the world4boy and the world5At one point he ends up living at a trash dump.

boy and the world8boy and the world3 As you can see the animation is quite beautiful but what adds to the appeal of the film is the wonderful music. Written by Ruben Feffer and Gustavo Kurlat it combines ‘pan-flute, samba and Brazilian hip hop’ into a delightful absorbing experience that made me smile.  Here’s one of the main themes:

The visuals combined with the music at times feel like a kaleidoscope and I never grew weary of the imagery. It is a bit self indulgent and has little to do with  the main plot of the boy looking for his Dad, but I liked it.  However, I can picture that bothering some people but not me.

boy and the world kaleidescopeThe ending of Boy and the World does try to say something about war, commerce, industry and waste but  that wasn’t as effective as the rest of the visuals.  It felt a little heavy handed where the rest of the film had spread the same message using joy and light. We didn’t really need the contrasting images.

There is little to no dialogue in Boy and the World so there are no cultural limitations or barriers.  I know films with no dialogue aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but I enjoy them when done right and this is.

boy and the world2So is it better than The Peanuts Movie? Again, it just depends on what you like.  They both have simple stories at their centers with depressed little boys and great music.   Both are also visually innovative and beautiful.  If you like more earthy, surreal art you’ll like Boy and the World better.  If you like the more modern realistic pop art than you will like Peanuts Movie better.  I personally have an attachment to Charlie Brown so I enjoyed his story more but I also loved the newness and creativity of Boy and the World.

Either way I can see why the academy nominated it.  It’s a beautiful film and adds a strong artistic entry to 2015 that we really didn’t have outside of The Prophet.  If you get a chance to see it let me know what you think.

My youtube review

Oscar Nomination Reactions

Hey guys!  Today the Academy released it’s Oscar nominations and here are my reactions:

If you don’t want to watch the video basically I will sum it up.  I don’t get the love for Bridge of Spies.  It was dull, conventional and average.  Particularly the nomination for best screenplay I find baffling but as I seem to be one of the only people I know who feels that way I can’t say I am surprised. At least it isn’t offensive like last year’s baffling nominee and winner Birdman.

I was surprised to see no nomination for Aaron Sorkin for Steve Jobs– especially with how much the liberal Hollywood love his writing. Steve Jobs was way better written than Bridge of Spies.  Come on?  Nice to see Adam McKay get nominated for Best Director for Big Short and was surprised he took Ridley Scott’s spot for The Martian.  There was little love for Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight and that surprised me a little bit.

I’ve actually seen all 8 of the best picture nominations and aside from Bridge of Spies they are fine.  I would have subbed out Creed or Inside Out for Bridge of Spies but again in minority on that one.

I was glad to see Inside Out get a nomination for best original screenplay and Brooklyn for adapted screenplay.

I think the documentary Amy is overrated and uses too much home video.  I didn’t find out anything I didn’t already know.  To me it was kind of shallow but again in minority on that one.

The most absurd nomination of the night is The Revenant for production design.  The whole thing is basically set in the snow!  Are we giving the team credit for designing the snow, forest and river?  Ridiculous.  Brooklyn, Carol, Cinderella, Star Wars: The Force Awakens all had much better production design than The Revenant.

But expect The Revenant and Spotlight to take home big awards come February.  Sylvester Stallone in Creed and Kate Winslet will win supporting actor trophies.

I was glad to see A Bear’s Story, World of Tomorrow and Sanjay’s Super Team all get nominated for Animated Short.  They are all excellent.  World of Tomorrow should win if enough voters have seen.  I don’t even understand it completely but it should win.

And now for the big snub….

No nomination for the Peanuts Movie.  It is ridiculous.  To me it was exactly what a Peanuts movie should be.  If you think about the specials they are about Charlie Brown trying to gain confidence.  The Great Pumpkin is really the only one that has a complex plot.  Think about the Christmas special it is about Charlie Brown worrying about the holidays.  The Thanksgiving special is about him trying to make a meal for his friends.  What were people expecting storywise? I don’t get it!

I at least got exactly what I wanted.  A story about Charlie Brown gaining confidence to talk to the Red Haired Girl.  It was sweet.  It was emotional, and it was funny.  And even if you don’t love the plot the animation was so great.  The use of the hybrid animation with a flat 2D style combined with CG was brilliant and groundbreaking and deserved a nomination.  It really did.

All I know is Boy and the World better be really great.  That came out of nowhere but maybe it will be 2015’s Song of the Sea and it will all make sense after I see it.

For now I’m sad for Peanuts but in the end it’s the Oscars.  They usually get it wrong (Birdman winning over Boyhood…) so I don’t really care.

And we have to listen to Chris Rock host.  Groan.  But I’m sure there will be a few nice moments and at least this year I’ve seen all 8 nominees, so there’s that.

What did you think of the nominations?  Put in the comments section.  Thanks!

Annie Awards Nominations 2015

Tonight they put out the nominations for the latest Annie Awards for greatness in animation.  Pixar was the big winner with 21 nominations between Good Dinosaur and Inside Out.  This year they divided the best feature nominations into an independent and best category which seems strange to me.  I personally would have included When Marnie was There in the all-out best category but they put it in Independent. That movie seemed to resonate more with me than other people so I get it (what else is new!).  Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet also got a nomination which despite issues I think was deserved for the quality of the shorts.

I would be shocked if the 5 for Best Animated Feature are not the Oscar nominees.  Shaun the Sheep is certainly deserving.  The Peanuts Movie is fantastic and Anomalisa I’ve heard nothing but great things about (it doesn’t get released by me till 2016).

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

“Anomalisa”
Paramount Pictures

“Inside Out”
Pixar Animation Studios

“Shaun the Sheep Movie”
Aardman Animations

“The Good Dinosaur”
Pixar Animation Studios

“The Peanuts Movie”
Blue Sky Studios, Twentieth Century Fox Animation

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE-INDEPENDENT

“Boy and the World”
Filme de Papel

“Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet”
Ventanarosa

“The Boy and the Beast”
Studio Chizu

“When Marnie Was There”
Studio Ghibli

For television we have some worthy nominations but nothing too unexpected.  It might have been nice to see Star Wars Rebels or Rick and Morty get some nominations but hard to argue with what they picked.  Wander Over Yonder and Gravity Falls particularly deserve the shout-out.

BEST GENERAL AUDIENCE ANIMATED TELEVISION/BROADCAST PRODUCTION

“Bob’s Burgers”
Episode: “Can’t Buy Me Math”
Twentieth Century Fox Television / Bento Box Entertainment

“BoJack Horseman”
Episode: “Brand New Couch”
The Tornante Company

“Moonbeam City”
Episode: “Quest for Aquatica”
Titmouse, Inc. / Comedy Central

“The Simpsons”
Episode: “Halloween of Horror ”
Gracie Films in Association with 20th Century Fox Television

BEST ANIMATED TELEVISION/BROADCAST PRODUCTION FOR CHILDREN

“Clarence”
Episode: “Turtle Hats ”
Cartoon Network

“Gravity Falls”
Episode: “Not What He Seems”
Disney Television Animation

“Harvey Beaks”
Episode: “A Day of No To-Do”
Nickelodeon

“Sanjay & Craig”
Episode: “Street Dogg”
Nickelodeon

“Star vs the Forces of Evil”
Episode: “Blood Moon Ball”
Disney Television Animation

“Steven Universe”
Episode: “Jail Break”
Cartoon Network Studios

“Wander Over Yonder”
Episode: “The Breakfast”
Disney Television Animation

 

For full list of nominees and all the other categories go to http://variety.com/2015/film/in-contention/pixar-picks-up-25-annie-nominations-1201650793/

What do you think of the nominees?  Anything surprise you?