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

09 February 2015

Oscar Nominees 2015: Part 8 of 12 (Animated Features)

Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6. Part 7.
Part 8 of 12:

How to Train Your Dragon 2
1 Nomination
  • Animated Feature
Director: Dean DeBlois
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, America Ferrera, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Djimon Hounsou, Kristin Wiig, T.J. Miller, Kit Harington

This was just so dang cute, and the dragon who is the star of these films is so gorgeously designed that when he's on screen it is impossible to look at anything else. He's sleek and lovable and charming and who wouldn't want one for her very own? The movie itself is exciting, too. There are hundreds of new species of beautifully drawn dragons, and the plot is moving and sweet without being cloying or absurd. I expect this to win this year, even though I liked Big Hero 6 slightly more. For those of you who want me to say something about The Lego Movie's big snub here, read on.
Will Win: Animated Feature
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #26 out of 80


Big Hero 6
1 Nomination
  • Animated Feature
Director: Don Hall, Chris Williams
Cast: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Maya Rudolph, Daniel Henney, Alan Tudyk, James Cromwell, T.J. Miller, Genesis Rodriguez, Damon Wayans Jr., Jamie Chung

I loved this movie. It's smart and exciting, and beautifully shot. It is also a straight-up action movie, even though it is a movie for kids. And it's filled with science, so that kids can understand just how much fun science can be – and even more, how great it would be if we were using science to do good in the world instead of simply attempting to make more money. The characters are wonderful, and the main creation (his name is Baemax) is lovable and huggable (see above) and is perfectly voiced by Scott Adsit. This is an excellent film. I should say that my favorite animated film of the year was Ari Folman's The Congress, which isn't animated for its entire length, (so I guess it doesn't count?), but this is my favorite of the nominees for sure, and one of my favorite films this year.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Animated Feature
My Rating: #17 out of 80


Song of the Sea
1 Nomination
  • Animated Feature
Director: Tomm Moore
Cast: Lucy O'Connell, David Rawle, Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, Pat Shortt, Lisa Hannigan, Jon Kenny

This is the first of this year's nominees that I haven't seen. Ho hum. It just never played up here in the hinterlands, and it was in Los Angeles too early for me to have seen it there. This was animated by the same folks that brought us The Secret of Kells (also a nominee, for the 2009 season), and by all accounts it is beautiful and everyone loves it. Its appearance on nomination morning was a surprise to many (although not to me), because almost everyone was betting that The Lego Movie would get a nomination for Best Animated Feature. Why everyone liked The Lego Movie is a bit of a mystery to me, but it should have been quite clear that it couldn't have gotten a nomination. It isn't stop-motion animation at all. It's a kind of hybrid thing that pretends to be stop-motion but is actually traditionally animated. The Animation Branch does not value strangely animated pictures: remember The Adventures of Tintin? Or Waking Life? It does love traditional, beautiful, and especially hand-drawn work, which Song of the Sea certainly is. This could win in an upset.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Animated Feature
My Rating: Not Yet Rated


The Boxtrolls
1 Nomination
  • Animated Feature
Cast: Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, Tracy Morgan, Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Dee Bradley Baker

I was sort of bored by this. Its themes are very similar to last year's Ernest et Célestine, and it just wasn't as visually intriguing as I wanted it to be. It's cute and charming in a grotesque sort of way (its grotesquerie is definitely part of its attraction), but it is never really more than that. And its plot is sentimental and clichéd. I was disappointed. It's a shame because I really liked Jorge R. Gutierrez's The Book of Life, and it could have had this slot. It was imaginative and beautiful, and the plot was intriguing and clever and had a healthy ironic perspective on itself. Oh well.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #60 out of 80


The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (かぐや姫の物語)
1 Nomination
  • Animated Feature
Director: Takahata Isao
Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, James Caan, Mary Steenburgen, Darren Criss, Lucy Liu, Beau Bridges, James Marsden, Oliver Platt, Dean Cain, Daniel Dae Kim, George Segal, John Cho

This was another bit of a disappointment. I've written about this movie already here; its animation is lovely, but the story just isn't that intriguing. One sort of knows how it is going to go before we ever get anywhere. It's an old tale, so that makes a kind of sense, but it just reiterates old clichés about living in the woods and not living in the city, and that we ought to let our children be what they want to be instead of forcing them to be what we want them to be. Important sentiments, no doubt, but not sentiments that need to be told in a film that is longer than two hours.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #53 out of 80