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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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. 🙂

Ranking 2015 Animated Films

Hi guys!  I hope you are having a good start to 2016, but let’s look back at the animated films of 2015.  Over all, I’d say it was a pretty good year.  Having not seen Anomalisa I’d say we had 5 films that were excellent, 2, maybe 3, that will make my top 50 animated countdown.  As a point of contrast last year 4 films made the countdown.   I’d also say the bad movies of 2015 weren’t as bad as 2014 so that’s good!

Yesterday I posted my ranking of the animated films of 2015 on my channel and I’m really proud of the how the video turned out.  I was able to use clips and hopefully introduce people to the smaller animated films they may not have heard of.  I have reviewed all of these films on this blog so you are all probably familiar with them but it will hopefully be a good reminder.  I would really appreciate it if you gave this a thumbs up if you like it.  Thanks!

So here’s my ranking of the 2015 animated films (like I said minus Anomalisa which isn’t released yet in my area and I will wait till blu-ray to see)

home-poster14. Home- a muddled story with inconsistent characters hurts a well animated entry from Dreamworks.

strange magic13. Strange Magic- a jukebox musical take on Midsummer’s Night Dream is sunk by a dopey script with uncreative song choices.

minions12. Minions- a side character getting the starring role doesn’t work here.  All over the place story-wise and didn’t make me laugh.

maya the bee1011. Maya the Bee- cute, well animated movie for toddlers with a nice message about being yourself.  A stock Saturday morning cartoon villain without much grown-up appeal but I thought it was cute.

un gallo10. Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos- an animated film with subtitles out of Mexico.  Not perfect but for the $5 million budget I thought it was pretty creative and funny.  A pleasant surprise.

hotel trans29. Hotel Transylvania 2- a pleasant family comedy sequel to the original Hotel Transylvania.  It kind of wimps out on the ending and I miss the ensemble feel of the original but innocuous and fine. The animation is pretty good.

prophet poster8. Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet- the strongest part of this film is the animated shorts that describe the poems of Kahlil Gibran.  They are beautiful but the framing device is very preachy and felt like a Sunday School lesson.

The Spongebob Movie Sponge Out of Water 3D7. Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water- a wacky, somewhat insane movie but I enjoyed it.  The only bone I have to pick with the film is the marketing was deceptive as the ‘out of water’ portion was very brief.  Still, if you want something weird and different give it a watch.

shaun the sheep poster6. Shaun the Sheep- honestly probably my favorite comedy, not just animated comedy, of 2015.  It’s an adorable film that made me laugh with impeccable animation from Aardman.

cheatin poster5. Cheatin’– an adult animated film from Bill Plympton that isn’t for everyone but I found it beautiful and moving.  The artistry alone in the hand drawn sketchy animation should be seen by animation fans.

when marnie94. When Marnie was There- an emotional final film from Studio Ghibli about a family rescuing a girl from deep depression.  The animation is gorgeous and lush and the sound design, music perfection.  I loved it’s bold take on mental illness and it’s a film that really made me think.

good dino233. The Good Dinosaur– an underappreciated entry from Pixar in my opinion.  I loved the relationship between Arlo and Spot and the journey they go on.  I thought it was surprising and sometimes funny, sometimes scary.  And the animation is stunning.

peanuts2. The Peanuts Movie– one of the best adaptations I’ve ever seen.  It was everything I could want in a Peanuts Movie.  It kept it simple and focused on Charlie Brown trying to gain confidence.  I love that.  I loved Snoopy and the Red Baron and all the choices from the music to the amazing hybrid animation.

inside out61.Inside Out– a stunning achievement from Pixar.  I loved this movie and I love it more each time I see it.  I love the dual character arcs with Riley and Joy.  I love Bing Bong and Sadness and the message of the film.  I love the animation and the music and everything else.  It’s perfection!

So there you have it.  My ranking of the 2015 animated films! What would be your ranking?  Put in the comments section and let’s talk about it! And if you see any of these smaller films I’d love to hear what you think.

Best of 2015 Animated Shorts

Hi guys!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  This week I am going to be sharing my ranking for the 2015 animated films but before that I wanted to talk animated shorts!  I love animated shorts and 2015 was actually a really terrific year for the medium.  I haven’t seen all of them as they aren’t all available but I watched a lot and I came up with my top 11.  I worked really hard on this video and would love if you gave it a watch.

But if you don’t want to watch the video I will give the list here.  I did include shorts from anthology films like The Prophet and Extraordinary Tales because I feel they stand on their own as shorts without needing the framing device.  In fact, they are much better without it.

So here are my top 11 2015 animated shorts

11. Frozen Fever

frozen fever5Yep, this die hard Frozen fan puts Frozen Fever at 11 because it is sweet and pleasant but not as artistically ambitious as the others on this list.  Frozen fans like myself will really enjoy seeing Anna and Elsa’s relationship grow and the new song is very enjoyable but it isn’t spectacular or anything.  Just really enjoyable for fans and there is nothing wrong with that.

10. A Bear’s Story

shorts 2015 bears10This animated short from Gabriel Osorio and it has a bit of a steampunk feel (shorts are the best place for steampunk IMO) about a bear that makes pictograph machines with a mechanical version of his family.  It reminded me a lot of Hugo and was very sweet and beautiful.

9. Lava

lava2I’m sure you guys are shocked this isn’t higher but when it came down to it the 8 shorts were more artistically ambitious than Lava.  I love Lava!  I love the music.  The song I have been singing all year and nearly anything with Hawaii has my heart but I just couldn’t get it higher.  It’s a delightful, sweet short.

8. An Object at Rest

shorts 2015 object5Similar to Lava, An Object at Rest tells the story of a mountain, that becomes a boulder, that becomes a stone, and continues on.  It is animated by Seth Boyden and it has a sketchy sweet style like Ernest and Celestine.

7. Le Gouffre

le gouffreThis short was a big surprise for me but it is beautiful.  It is about 2 adventurers that have to cross a chasm and build a bridge to get to the other side.  It sounds mundane but it is exciting and striking with great character designs.  It is from a studio out of Montreal called Lightning Bay Studio and it makes me very curious to see what the studio will do next.

6. On Eating and Drinking

Plympton_ProphetThis short is from The Prophet by amazing animator Bill Plympton who does all his artwork by hand and I love his sketchy style.  (Check out this year’s Cheatin’ to see more of his style).  This is a poem about eating and drinking and the imagery and flow with the poem are beautiful.

5. The Tell-Tale Heart

extraordinary tales8From the Edgar Allen Poe anthology film Extraordinary Tales we get the depiction of Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart.  The art design with the black and white contrasting is really striking and Bella Legosi narrating gave great ambiance and immersed me in the story.

4. World of Tomorrow

shorts 2015 world of tomorrow5I wouldn’t be surprised if after watching it a dozen more times World of Tomorrow is at the top of my list.  It’s very obtuse and out there but I was intrigued by it.  Created by animated Don Hertzfeldt it is basically the animated sci-fi musings of a leader and a little girl.  It’s trippy and weird and different but I liked it for those reasons.

3. On Work

prophet on workThis short from The Prophet reminded me of a Van Gogh painting with the harvesters collecting the wheat from the field.  The poem was beautiful and the animation fit it perfectly.  It is bright and vivid and I loved it.

2. Sanjay’s Super Teamsanjay4I loved this story from Pixar about a little boy and a father trying to reconcile their differing views of the world.  You have little Sanjay who loves superheroes and his Dad who worships and prays to the Hindi Gods.  It’s not about polytheism or superheroes but about how we can take the best of the old and new and make something unique and great. The animation is bright, colorful and very creative.

1.  On Love

shorts 2015 on loveIf you haven’t caught on I am kind of obsessed with Tomm Moore.  His animation is so beautiful.  I loved Song of the Sea- one of my favorite animated films of all time and I think Secret of the Kells is wonderful.  Naturally, his short in The Prophet was my favorite of the group and of the year.  It is called On Love and is of course about love.  We get joy, passion, rejection, and belonging perfectly animated with the Khalil Gibran poem accompanying the stirring images.

 

So that is my ranking.  What do you think about my picks and what are your favorite animated shorts from the year?  I hopefully introduced you to a few you haven’t heard of and I would encourage you to check them out.

I know there are many I missed so please put in the comments section.  Thanks!

Talking 2015 Animation

My friend Art from The AtZ Show joined me to discuss the year of 2015 animation.  I had a great time discussing these films and think you all will enjoy it too.

We talk about Strange Magic, Home, Spongebob, When Marnie was There, Inside Out, Minions, The Prophet, Shaun the Sheep, Hotel Transylvania 2, The Good Dinosaur, Peanuts Movie and Anomalisa.

I would love your comments on what we discuss and if you like it put a thumbs up. Please put a comment here or on the video.  Which of these films did you see and what do you think of them?  I am going to do a ranking tomorrow of these films.

Thanks so much!

2015 Animation So Far Ranked

So 2015 hasn’t been the year in animation 2014 was (still in my Oscar reviews 2014 is one of my favorites).  The thing that made 2014 cool was even the silly comedies were solid.  But that’s a post for another day.  Let’s talk about the films of 2015 so far.  Song of the Sea (still best film I’ve seen in 2014) doesn’t count because it is technically a 2014 release.

Going bottom to top…

Strange Magic-

Not a good movie by any stretch but not as bad as any of last years bad animated films. It’s the script and the uncreative song choices that sink this magical fairytale

strange magic3

Home-

Terrible voice performances and characters that don’t really make sense with a tired plot spoil decent animation from a book I’m told is quite clever. Basically ends up being a lame road trip movie.  A real letdown.

home23

Maya the Bee-

For the smallest kids.  Good animation, a nice message but a lame villain and unoriginal story. Still I enjoyed it.

maya the bee7

Minions-

A big letdown.  All good parts were in trailer. The animation is fine and there are cute moments but it didn’t make me laugh which is a problem in a comedy. Also the adult humor I could do without

minions8

un Gallo con Muchos Huevos-

A pleasant surprise, pretty good animation for 5 mil budget, creative, some decent laughs. Some strange characters but I think a lot of that comes with my unfamiliarity with the series.  Didn’t like the PG-13 elements and the story is predictable but overall entertaining.

un gallo6

Hotel Transylvania 2-

Kind of forgettable but entertaining comedy for kids. The animation is pretty good and I did laugh a fair amount.  A nice message about accepting people for who they are, not who you hope they’d be.

hoteltrans2-4

The Prophet-

The 8 amazing shorts are great enough to overcome the thoroughly lame framing device.

prophet18

Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge Out of Water-

Completely nuts but I kind of liked that.  If you’ve seen as many animated films as I have it is cool to see something weird and insane every now and then.   The ad campaign was so deceiving because  out of water segment is extremely brief.  A lot of laughs and I loved the 2D animation. It’s not for everyone but I liked it.

SpongeBob-SquarePants-Will-Get-A-New-Movie3

Shaun the Sheep-

Aardman is back with a lovely dialogue free offering about Shaun, a sheep, wanting a day off from the farm.  It is funny and sweet with great stop motion animation.  There were a few sections where the laughs are too spread out but over all a fun film for the entire family.   Wish Aardman could figure out their distribution problems so more people would see their films.

shaunthesheep4

Cheatin’-

An animated film for adults but not gratuitous about love, marriage, infidelity, honesty and heartbreak.  It also has little to no dialogue but the Bill Plympton visuals are so absorbing.  You feel like you know the couple and neither Jake or Ella is a villain but 2 people who failed to communicate their hearts.

cheatin18

When Marnie was There-

A movie about a young girl’s journey through depression and self-loathing through her friendship with a mysterious girl named Marnie.  It is beautiful, lush, vivid, and absorbing with an amazing soundtrack.  It’s really a story about a family saving a little girl even when they have seemingly abandoned her through death.  You have to accept a little magical realism for the story to work but I was willing to take that leap.

when marnie6

Inside Out-

What can I say that I haven’t already said about this film?  I’ve seen it 4 times in theaters and each time I am more in awe of the richness of the storytelling.  What a bold film from Pete Docter and Pixar that captures the emptiness of  depression and how important being sad can be.  The story arc that we get from Joy is astonishing for a character that should be one note and predictable.  Bing Bong is so original and heartfelt.  And yet it still is really funny in segments.  Just about a perfect movie IMO

inside out5

Maya the Bee Review

maya the bee10All right gather your toddlers because I have a movie for them- Maya the Bee.  This is based on the 1991 anime series that used to air on Nick Jr here in the states.  I have a fondness for the original series so when I saw this on vuduu I had to give it a rental.  The original show only aired for 2 years but was about a bee named Maya and her attempts to shake up the robot-like bees at her hive.

maya7The episodes are extremely simple usually with Maya trying to cheer a grumpy bee up and help make everyone happy.  When I rewatched much of the first season I thought of Dora the Explorer.  They have a very similar demographic.  Cheerful, happy, sweet and no attempt to be cheeky or entertain grown ups, which I think is great.

maya the beeThe movie is pretty much the same with some plot thrown in.  We get all the main characters of Maya, Willy (Maya’s friend), Flip (friendly grasshopper) and Miss Cassandra (Maya’s teacher).  It’s bright and colorful and I thought looked much better than I expected it too.

maya the bee3The story is nothing new in Maya the Bee.  Basically Maya doesn’t fit in with the hive.  She wants to do everything differently- even when she is born is different than the rest.  This is a challenge for Miss Cassandra who is her teacher and guardian.  That part is straight from the original TV show.

maya the bee7

It annoys the bad girl in the movie Buzzlina vonBeena (great name!) voiced by the great Jacki Weaver.

maya the bee11Buzzlina develops a scheme she is going to hide the prized royal jelly the queen needs to live and blame their enemies the hornets.  This will be her chance to usurp power and take control.  The hive falls hook line and sinker except of course for Maya who is banished and her friend Willy comes along.

maya the bee8She goes to the meadow to try and get bugs to help her and find Flip the grasshopper who promised if he could do anything he would.  Flip is a musical grasshopper and has a song and dance number at the meadow that is forgettable but little tikes might enjoy.

maya the bee9Along the way they meet a little hornet who is lost from his father and Willy is initially scared but Maya wants to give him a chance. Just because he is a hornet doesn’t mean he’s a bad person after all 🙂

maya the bee14There are also a band of ants sent by Miss Cassandra to find Willy and Maya led by 2 numskulls that were amusing idiots.

maya the bee5Eventually the hornets confront the bees and Maya exposes Buzzlina’s dastardly plot and we end with a big party that includes the all of the bugs from the movie.

mayal the bee 18It’s very easy to eviscerate a movie like Maya the Bee.  The story is trite and something we’ve seen a million times, the voice casting is sub-par and the message is very corny.

There is no attempt like The Lego Movie to appeal to a broad audience but I actually think that is a strength.  It is made for little children (2 to 4).  There is nothing scary and the message is digestible for that age.  Something like ‘be unique’ and ‘don’t be afraid to stand out’ may be better told in the Lego Movie but I think it probably gets lost on the very young audience.  Lego is a better movie for sure but all the in jokes (Star Wars rave for instance), the batman schtick, and the live action scene are probably not compelling for toddlers.

This is what Dreamwork’s Home got wrong.  It is bright and colorful and trying to appeal to very small children but then it gets muddled and the premise of all the humans getting abducted and a girl on her own is too much for the small tikes.  Home didn’t know what it was trying to be and so it failed- even in the characters which were inconsistent and frustrating.  Maya the Bee is certainly much better than Home.

maya the bee2Maya the Bee is just a sweet simple movie made for little one’s and it should appeal equally to boys and girls which is a little unusual in that demographic.  It is one the parents may want to put on and go do the dishes but I wasn’t miserable watching it and I don’t have kids.

For the target demographic, I do think it is a little bit too long.  It really should be more like the 2011 Winnie the Pooh, which is 63 minutes.  (I still hold that Winnie the Pooh to be one of the best movies for 2-3 year olds ever made from the music, animation, pacing, time everything is perfect for that group).  There are definitely segments that could have been cut out like the song.

They perhaps could have tried a little harder to do something original with the story or gotten better voice talent because the animation is lovely but for what it is I liked it.  I thought they did an ok job.

You parents out there- what do you think of Maya the Bee? Look like something worth checking out? If you do let me know what you think and if your kids like it.

Overall Grade- C+

Here’s the trailer if that helps give you more of an idea on the film.

Cheatin Review

cheatin10A few days ago I posted my belief that “whether 2D, 3D, stop motion or live action it all comes down to the story“.  I genuinely believe that to be true for 99% of films but like any rule there are exceptions. Some films are obviously an excuse  for art and the story takes a back seat.  Usually to work these types of films have to give us something new.  They have to be over-the-top and challenge us artistically otherwise the movie doesn’t work.  Fantasia, for instance, gave us something new.  Something that has never been topped artistically to date. Another example, last years Rocks in My Pockets did have a disturbing and profound story but it still took a back seat to the imagery presented.

This years Cheatin’ is another example of such an artistically bold film. It is not a film for everyone.  It is challenging and like most new things a little tough to digest but I’m glad I saw it.

Created by animator Bill Plympton, Cheatin’ tells the story of a beautiful woman named Ella who is tired of superficial men. To her chagrin she gets wrangled into attending a carnival when she wants to just read her book.

cheatin21Eventually she is convinced to ride the bumper cars but there is an accident and she is trapped. Fortunately, she is rescued by a jock type named Jake and they instantly fall in love.  None of this is done through any real dialogue but through music, opera, grunts, screams, yells, sighs and other expressions.

cheatin19The artistry throughout is just beautiful.  I mean look at this shot.

cheatin18So they get married and Jake is completely loyal to Ella.  However, a woman who is in love with him stages a photo to make it look like Ella isn’t faithful to him.  This breaks Jake’s heart.

cheatin16With his broken heart he falls prey to temptation and becomes a serial adulterer.  These scenes are fairly graphic for an animated movie.  But they are so non-realistic that I wasn’t really offended but I can see that others would be.  The music is amazing throughout in mixing opera, jazz and the score by Nicole Renaud.

Meanwhile Ella is devastated at her husbands cheatin ways and fantasizes what she wants to do to him.

cheatin14In her remorse she stumbles upon a magician who has a special machine that will allow her to enter the bodies of the women her husband is seducing.

cheatin11The magician knows this is a mistake but she sneaks in and does it anyway.

cheatin13Eventually Jake realizes the photo was a phony and that he was wrong about Ella but it is too late? We don’t know.

cheatin15Cheatin has an interesting back story.  Bill Plympton raised over 100k on Kickstarter to make the movie and backers received the film in August of last year.  This is why it was submitted to the Academy and Annies for 2014. (I guess that means it is out of the running for 2015?).

All the animation was drawn by Plympton himself which is kind of amazing (40,000 drawings all done by him!).  What an artist! A staff of 10 people then did the colorization and compositing.  It’s hard to believe so few people and such a tiny budget could make a film like this.

If 2D proponents are looking for signs of hope the Cheatin’ Kickstarter success and the quality of this movie should give it to them.  Hullabaloo animated project got over 400k in only 1 month of fundraising with a goal of 80k so there’s that as well.  Not half bad!

But back to the movie.  It is challenging.  It is different but I like films like that.  The story isn’t much but it is audacious and bold enough in the visuals to not need it.

I think if you watch the trailer and it looks like you’d hate it you probably will.  If it looks like the type of art you like and something interesting then give it a shot.  You’d be supporting a small animator trying to do something in a big pond. I was more than happy to throw $10 his way to buy it on demand. $4.99 to rent.

https://vimeo.com/ondemand/cheatin

Overall Grade- B+, Content Grade- C