Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

28 February 2014

Oscar Nominees 2014: Part 13 of 14


The Wind Rises (風立ちぬ)
1 Nomination
  • Animated Feature
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Cast: Hideaki Anno, Miori Takimoto, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Masahiko Nishimura, Stephen Alpert, Keiko Takeshita, Mirai Shida, Jun Kunimura, Shinobu Otake, Nomura Mansai (except that they all spoke English when I saw it, so: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Martin Short, Stanley Tucci, Werner Herzog, William H. Macy, Jennifer Grey)

This is apparently not going to be (as has been reported) Miyazaki's final film. We should all breathe a sigh of relief at this. The subject matter of The Wind Rises is not Miyazaki's usual fanciful content, so I was sort of worried that The Wind Rises wouldn't be as magical as his previous films. I oughtn't to have worried one bit. This is a film about an artist, and his visions of what he can create are told through beautiful, fanciful dreams that feel like nothing but magic. It is gorgeous. The score is beautiful (and really should've taken Philomena's spot – who remembers that score?), but what's really on show here are Miyazaki's beautiful vistas, intriguing ways of looking at things, memorable quirky characters, and fanciful storytelling. This is a director who tells us that a couple is falling in love by having them fly paper airplanes to one another from the ground to a third-story window. The planes in flight are breathtaking, and the film itself becomes about what it is like to love something, to dedicate your life to something only to have it destroyed by something else (the military, illness). This is beautiful stuff and is easily my favorite in the Animated Feature category, not that that means it's going to win; it hasn't a prayer.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win:N/A
My Rating: #21 out of 82

Ernest et Célestine (Ernest & Celestine)
1 Nomination
  • Animated Feature
Cast: Lambert Wilson, Pauline Brunner, Dominique Maurin, Anne-Marie Loop

I don't get to see this before the Academy Awards, and my bet is that most people won't have seen it. It, frankly, looks adorable, and captures the look of the children's books on which it is based (the books are by Gabrielle Vincent and you can see them – some are even translated into English – here). French animation has soared in this category recently, and it has become a safe bet for a nomination almost every single year, though (it would appear) not for the win. Films like Une Vie de Chat, Persepolis, and Sylvain Chomet's superb L'Illusionniste and Les Triplettes de Belleville have all gotten nominations, but none has gone on to the win (despite L'Illusionniste's superiority to almost all of the films – animated or not – that were released in 2010). Ernest et Célestine is released in the U.S. today, so if you live in a city bigger than mine you may have better luck than I catching this picture. 
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: Not ranked

The Croods
1 Nomination
  • Animated Feature
Cast:Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman

I liked this film more than most of my friends did, and I liked it mostly for the kinds of lovely visuals you can see in the image above. The Croods is a silly little story, with characters who are, for the most part, unattractive (they are cro-magnons, after all). The plot covers a family who are running away from the splitting of the supercontinent Pangaea. It is, more importantly a story of learning new things – adapting to new technologies and new ideas. It is about parents learning to listen to their kids and kids learning to listen to their parents. In the ideology of this film, the parents don't know the best way to do things, but they have much bigger hearts than the children. All of this is sort of sweet, and the tone is tongue-in-cheek enough that it didn't make me groan too heavily at any point. And then there is the art design! It is gorgeous. There are millions of bizarre little creatures and plants that look like something out of a prettified Hieronymus Bosch or Pieter Bruegel painting. The Croods is worth watching for these inventive visuals alone.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #60 out of 82