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!


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.


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?

When Marnie was There Review

Get out the tissues for more than just a heart-wrenching movie.  I have now seen what is evidently the last Studio Ghibli film.   This is my response to that reality:

ghibli gifThe last film is called When Marnie was There and I’m happy to say if they are going to go out this is a great one.  I LOVED it!

Here’s my youtube review.  I’d love if you guys give it a watch and a thumbs up. (I said wrong name on my youtube review. Sorry)

It’s about a girl named Anna who is clinically depressed.  So much so she wishes she was dead.  As a foster daughter she is deeply loved but still struggles with feeling unwanted and unloved.  She says at the beginning ‘there are some people who fit in the circle and there are some that are outside”.  She has resigned herself to being an outsider and thinks she is incapable of both giving and receiving love from anyone.  I was really impressed with how deep they were willing to go.  This is no cliched ‘down in the dumps’ kind of depression.  This is real despair.

when marnie5Worried about her, Anna’s mother sends her to a relative in the country to try and help her with her asthma and get her emotions back from this dark place.  The animation is gorgeous in the countryside, some of Studio Ghibli’s best.

when marnie6The sound mixing is also excellent.  When she walks through grass it sounds like someone walking through grass.  The rain and water sounds are so authentic.  I don’t normally notice things like that but in this case it was wonderful and really gave a lush rich and textured feel to the movie.

Anna likes to sketch and one day she stumbles upon a marshland with a big mansion at one end.

when marnie3Eventually she notices a teen like herself at the house. She has long blonde hair, blue eyes and seems like almost a ghost on the lake. She comes and goes at odd times and there is something other-worldly about her.
when marnie4Anna dives further into the mystery of the marsh and the mansion and as she does a relationship between her and the girl named Marnie develops.

Some might see it as a lesbian romance but because of things we learn I think it is a deep and abiding friendship.  Regardless they love each other and through the experience Anna begins to realize she is worthy of love and that she has great love in her life.  She learns her value to the world and that’s a story arc that almost always works for me.

I was bawling my eyes out!  I would say more but I really don’t want to spoil it for all of you.  It is very clever and does not wash away her mental illness too easily.  She grows little bit by little bit over a summer and really comes to know who she is. She even can be a jerk at times because she is so nervous about being rejected. That all felt totally authentic to me of someone dealing with a mental illness.

I felt like Anna was very close to hurting herself (like I said very dark) and Marnie is the equivalent of an angel sent to rescue a lost soul. I also loved the mystery element and like all good Studio Ghibli films I wasnt quite sure where it was all going. The climax in a silo was exciting and heart wrenching.

when marnie2If I was going to nitpick I wasn’t that crazy with the US dubbing they did.  It just didn’t seem to fit and normally Ghibli does a great job.  I also thought the music was just ok (Kaguya had one of the best scores I’ve ever heard). The Priscilla Ahn song is nice during the credits. I love her but the score was average by Ghibli standards

But other than that I loved it.  I thought it was bold and took a girl from a dark place to one of joy and happiness in a believable way.  It’s a movie about hope and how we all have people rooting for us. Friendship and a knowledge of our eternal worth is what gives us hope and makes life worth living and Anna realizes that and is a new vibrant woman as a result. (In a way it is kind of like Field of Dreams. Other worldly message from the past to heal wounds and move forward).

The mystery surprised me at times and kept a brisk pace.  The love overwhelmed me and the animation is stunning.  It is definitely one I will want to get on blu-ray and it holds its own with the Studio Ghibli greats.  If you can find it near you please go and see it.  These studios need to know we love their work.  Maybe someone else will pick up the banner with Studio Ghibli leaving us?

Here’s the trailer

Overall Grade A

Until then bye, bye Studio Ghibli.  I love you!