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

11 February 2016

Oscar Nominees 2016: Part 7 of 11


Anomalisa
1 Nomination
  • Animated Feature
Cast: David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan

I thought this movie was brilliant. I had seen the trailers, and the critics had loved it, but I really wasn't sure what this thing was going to be, if you know what I mean. I kept wondering, too, why the faces of the characters looked so weird, and where the Charlie Kaufman quality was going to appear. I didn't need to wait long after the movie started. Early in the film, the main character Michael starts listening to the flower duet from the opera Lakmé, but both of the female voices on the track on his ipod are sung by Tom Noonan. I immediately started to laugh quite loudly in the theatre. Michael hears everyone's voice as the same voice. Everyone he meets in the film literally sounds the same to him. This is one. bored. man. Anomalisa attempts to address the boredom many of us feel: the sort of inundated quality of our lives as we are consistently bombarded by people attempting to sell us things and resell us things and up-sell us things, and also by the ludicrous bureaucracy that seems to surround getting absolutely anything done. But Anomalisa is also fundamentally about the very hard work it takes to see what is special in people other than one's self (and indeed in seeing what is special in one's self), and the absolutely necessity of doing precisely that. (At least, this is my read of the movie.) The animation in Anomalisa is jarring and strange, and is intended to work in this way, and this is, more than anything, a movie about sound, which makes it even more fascinating. I adored this, and I felt like it really captured facets of my own life (at least at the moment) really really well.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #10 out of 65


O Menino e o Mundo (Boy & the World)
1 Nomination
  • Animated Feature
Director: Alê Abreu
Cast: Vinicius Garcia, Felipe Zilse

This is a hidden gem that I never would have seen if it hadn't scored this surprise Oscar nomination. Let's say first of all that it is my second favorite animated film of the year and that I liked it a good deal more than I liked Pete Docter's Inside Out. The animation is absolutely gorgeous – simple, elegant, clever, and beautifully colorful. This is also a film that pays real attention to the work of laborers in Brazil, and the ways that manufacture and globalization have affected the lives of Brazilians. The film's point of view is slightly simplistic, certainly, but then it is a movie aimed primarily at children, and so its simplicity and elegance are fairly necessary. Boy & the World (that ampersand is ridiculous) is also about the environment: the destruction of the rainforests and the pollution of the drinkable water sources. But the whole thing is told so beautifully – with music and the point of view of the child – that I was in love with this enchanting movie fairly instantly. Boy & the World is also available online and only about eighty minutes long, so check it out! I recommend it wholeheartedly.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #19 out of 65


Shaun the Sheep Movie
1 Nomination
  • Animated Feature
Cast: Justin Fletcher, John Sparks, Omid Djalili, Richard Webber, Kate Harbour, Tim Hands, Andy Nyman, Simon Greenall, Emma Tate

This is fine. A little sheep decides he needs a change from the day-to-day boredom of his life on the farm. His proposed vacation day, however, causes a lot of trouble, and little Shaun and his family of sheep end up in the big city trying to find their amnesiac farmer-owner and return him to his home. Shenanigans ensue. As I said: fine. But this seemed a little more farcical and a little less clever than, say Wallace and Gromit or Chicken Run or other Nick Park fare. I do enjoy the way that these films seem to take pleasure in thwarting local law enforcement or bureaucracy, but I wanted quite a bit more form Shaun the Sheep Movie than I got.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #50 out of 65


When Marnie Was There (思い出のマーニー)
1 Nomination
  • Animated Feature
Cast: Sara Takatsuki, Kasumi Arimura, Nanako Matsushima, Susumu Terujima, Toshie Negishi, Ryōko Moriyama, Hitomi Kuroki, Kazuko Yoshiyuki

This is, apparently, the last Studio Ghibli film for a little while (although haven't they been saying that for years? I seem to remember that The Wind Rises was the last Studio Ghibli film, and there have been two since then). In any case, When Marnie Was There is the story of a young girl who has a great deal of anxiety and so she goes to spend the summer far away from the majority of civilization. What happens next is that she meets a mysterious stranger in an oddly abandoned (or is it?) mansion on the coast. This girl becomes her best friend, and they spend a great deal of time together. I found the whole thing intensely queer (which means, of course, that it is intensely queer), but this is about a loner child who can't seem to make friends very well and doesn't quite know how to behave in society, so we're already in fairly queer territory. The plot of When Marnie Was There is really complicated, and I occasionally need a pause to consider: wait, what is happening? What just happened? But for all its complexity, the movie winds itself up in very conventional terms. Worse yet, it uses a kind of deus ex machina to make sense of everything that has happened, so that the film finally doesn't really leave us with any mystery: all seems explained, and life goes back to normal. I found all of this a bit disappointing.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #47 out of 65