January 01, 2015

Tag Archives: animation

“The Boxtrolls”: What’s Up with the 2015 Awards Race

Directed by: Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi
Written by: Irena Brignull and Adam Pava
Main Cast: Voices of Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, and more…
Past Oscar relations: The studio has previously seen Coraline, Corpse Bride, and ParaNorman nominated for Best Animated Feature
Today we have another article in this ongoing series of mine concerning certain 2014 releases hoping to compete for some sort of actual Oscar attention as a contender at the upcoming 2015 ceremony. Next up for us here is the stop motion animated adventure The Boxtrolls, which hopes to be the latest bit of animation to appeal to the Academy. Can it actually do it in a year without Pixar? Let’s discuss that possibility a little bit below now…
This animated film is an adaptation of the novel “Here Be Monsters!” by Alan Snow and is directed by the duo of Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi. The screenplay is by Irena Brignull and Adam Pava, while the voice cast includes the likes of Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, Richard Ayoade, and others. In a relatively open year for another Best Animated Feature contender, The Boxtrolls certainly stands out by being a stop motion player and also just by being unlike anything else in release this year.
What this flick has going in its favor is how fun and unique it is. It’s unusual and captivating for audiences of all ages. That counts for something, especially when it comes to the Animated field. As long as it’s not mindless chaos, voters can be easily swayed by liveliness. This is also just a very clever movie, so while it won’t really be in play for Best Adapted Screenplay, I would be surprised if it wasn’t nominated for Best Animated Feature, and possibly even Best Original Song (Eric Idle contributes a very catchy tune for the end credits). Wins are another story, but the Animated nod at least is looking good.
Working against The Boxtrolls is that, frankly…it’s very weird. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but it could complicate any noms turning into wins. Especially considering how The LEGO Movie was able to be pretty out there but still gain a massive audience, it’s possible that there could only be room for one odd feature to really contend for the Oscar. A more mainstream entry like […]

“The Lego Movie” : 2015 Best Animated Feature contenders

Today, for my weekly 2015 contender rundown, I’m moving on from the big eight categories and looking at one of the in between ones…the Best Animated Feature race.
Since there are far less contenders in this category, I’ll be doing things a little bit differently. Here now are the five particular animated films that I have cracking the unofficial lineup at this point in the year:
1. The Lego Movie – The apparent frontrunner in the category, it’s a huge hit, captured the zeitgeist for a time in the country, and is just an absolute delight. The only concern in my eyes is if it’s just a little too weird for older voters, but I don’t think that’ll be much of an issue at all. It transcends the animation genre, so it would be a perfect winner in this category. Right now, the heavy Best Animated Feature favorite is this one right here.
2. How to Train Your Dragon 2 – If theres another title besides the one in my number one slot that has a chance to upend the race, it’s this one. A high quality sequel, this should be in contention for a tech nod or two on top of this Animated Feature nom, so that could help push it over the top. It has stiff competition from its main opponent, but I’d say not to count this one out at all just yet. A nomination at the very least here is assured.
3. The Boxtrolls – The studio behind Coraline and ParaNorman continues their efforts in this category with another offbeat but likely affecting title. Based on a popular book, this is one of the dark horses that will make things interesting in Best Animated Feature. It’ll have a high bar to clear in order to win, though as long as it’s good, a nomination seems pretty likely.
4. Big Hero 6 – Much of what I just said above could apply here, except this is a Disney/Marvel effort, so if it’s high quality, the money will be there for a huge campaign. If so, it’ll be the other main challenger for the Oscar, though something tells me it might not win. Voters don’t seem to go for superheroes anywhere just yet, so even an animated type of superhero tale likely will be a tough sell. The nomination could end up being its reward, I think. I could be wrong though.
5. Book […]

“How to Train Your Dragon 2”: What’s Up with the Awards Race

Directed by: Dean DeBlois
Written by: Dean DeBlois
Main Cast: Voices of Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Djimon Hounsou, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig, and others
Past Oscar relations: The first film in the franchise was nominated for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score
Here now we have a brand new article in this series of mine on 2015 contenders hoping to compete for some sort of Oscar attention at the upcoming 2015 ceremony. Next up for us is the sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2, which looks to please audiences as much as the first one did. From there, it’s potentially on to Oscar contention!
This is the second film in a now franchise, based on a highly popular series of books. How to Train Your Dragon 2 features a top notch voice cast, with folks such as Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Djimon Hounsou, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig, and many others lending their talents to the movie. All signs point to this being a big success and a likely player in the Best Animated Feature field. Can it go further though?
What this flick has going in its favor is highly positive reviews and a built in audience that tried to make the last one an awards contender. The early word says that this one is just as good, if not a bit better, than the first How to Train Your Dragon, which is no small achievement. This makes it more or less a surefire nominee in Best Animated Feature and perhaps even the frontrunner right now (give or take how The Lego Movie ages over the course of the rest of the season). Only halfway through the year, that’s a a pretty solid spot to be in.
Working against How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the fact that animation has had a tougher time of late. Since the sliding scale in Best Picture has been implemented, no cartoon has gotten into the major categories, so it’s possible that the time for that sort of a citation has come and gone. If Frozen couldn’t do it last year, one has to think that this year we won’t see anything from the animated category particularly break through. It’s not impossible, but I wouldn’t bet on it happening.
So, can this be a player at all? I’d say […]

Shanghai’s $2.4 billion “DreamCenter” to Open in 2017

In a sign of Hollywood’s expanding ties with China, DreamWorks Animation and Chinese partners Thursday unveiled their $2.4 billion “DreamCenter,” an entertainment complex in Shanghai that is set to open in 2017.
The complex will contain a 500-seat IMAX cinema with international film festivals and red carpet events in mind, bars, restaurants and performance venues, according to the companies.
A “Dream Avenue” theater district modeled on London’s West End and New York City’s Broadway will also be part of the complex, according to the Associated Press.
The 40-acre site includes eight outdoor events plazas.
The project is led by “Kung Fu Panda” and “Shrek” maker DreamWorks Animation, Chinese investment fund CMC Capital Partners, whose owners include state-owned companies, and Hong Kong developer Lan Kwai Fong, according to the AP.
“This will become the world’s third great urban center of entertainment and arts alongside New York’s Broadway and London’s West End,” DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told a news conference, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Gravity dominates the Visual Effects Society Awards

Yesterday night, the Visual Effect Society held their 12th annual awards show, and surprising no one, Alfonso Cuaron’s Oscar hopeful Gravity was the big winner. The film took home six VES awards, making it by far the dominant feature on display. This obviously furthers the chances of it taking home the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, but we can all agree that it was already pretty much a lock to win there. The only other feature competing in that category that made any dent at the awards was The Lone Ranger, which won Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture.
As for Gravity’s half dozen wins, they were in the categories of Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture (their version of Best Picture, basically), Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture, Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture, Outstanding Models in a Feature Motion Picture, Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture, and Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture. A big haul indeed for Gravity.
Here are all of the winners from the VES Awards last night:
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture
Gravity (Tim Webber, Nikki Penny, Neil Corbould, Richard McBride)
Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho, Lino Di Salvo)
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program
Game of Thrones (Steve Kullback, Joe Bauer, Jörn Großhans, Sven Martin)
Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture
The Lone Ranger (Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Shari Hanson, Kevin Martel)
Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program
Banshee: (Armen Kevorkian, Mark Skowronski, Jeremy Jozwik, Ricardo Ramirez)
Outstanding Real-Time Visuals in a Video Game
Call of Duty: Ghosts (Mark Rubin, Richard Kriegler, David Johnson, Alessandro Nardini)
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Commercial
Call of Duty: Epic Night Out (Chris Knight, Daniel Thuresson. Nick Tayler. Dag Ivarsory)
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project
Space Shuttle Atlantis (Daren Ulmer, John Gross, Cedar Connor, Christian Bloch)
Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: Smaug (Eric Reynolds, David Clayton, Myriam Catrin, Guillaume Francois)
Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
Frozen: Bringing the Snow Queen to Life (Alexander Alvarado, Joy Johnson, Chad Stubblefield, Wayne Unten)
Outstanding Animated Character in a Commercial or Broadcast Program
PETA: 98% Human (Vince Baertsoen, Jimmy Gass, Dave Barosin)
Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
Gravity: Exterior […]

“Monsters University” and “Pacific Rim” take Hollywood Film Awards Honors

The 17th Annual Hollywood Film Awards announced today that Disney/Pixar’s “Monsters University,” directed by Dan Scanlon and produced by Kori Rae, will be the recipient of the Hollywood Animation Award, and Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures “Pacific Rim” visual effects supervisor John Knoll will receive the “Hollywood Visual Effects Award” at the Hollywood Film Awards Gala Ceremony.
The announcement was made today by Carlos de Abreu, founder and executive producer of the Hollywood Film Awards. He said: “John Knoll’s groundbreaking work on Pacific Rim sets a new standard in visual effects. The robots and monsters in the film truly come to life through the best visual effects of the year. Once again, the animation and storytelling of “Monsters University” reflects Pixar’s creativity and greatness.”

The award will be bestowed at the Hollywood Film Awards Gala Ceremony on Monday evening, October 21, 2013 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.
The Hollywood Film Awards honors cherished stars, filmmakers and up-and-coming talent, and traditionally kicks off the film awards season with the biggest stars and top industry executives in attendance.
“We are very proud to be the first stop of the awards season. In the last ten years, a total of 96 Oscar® nominations and 34 Oscars® were given to the honorees of the Hollywood Film Awards,” said de Abreu.
Last year’s awards show received more than 41 million media impressions, in addition to more than 300 million online and print readers’ impressions.
About Dan Scalon
Dan Scanlon made his animated feature directorial debut with Disney/Pixar’s 14th feature film, “Monsters University,” which has grossed over $700 million dollars worldwide since its June 2013 release. He also co-wrote the film’s story and screenplay. As a youngster in Clawson, Michigan, Scanlon possessed a love for Warner Bros. cartoons, animated Disney films and, as fate would have it, Pixar short films. His passion inspired him to study film and animation in high school and in college where he focused on illustration at Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD). Upon graduating from CCAD, Scanlon began working as an animator and story artist for Character Builders, a 2D animation company that produced feature and commercial work in Columbus, Ohio. Scanlon joined Pixar Animation Studios in September 2001 as a storyboard artist on Disney/Pixar’s award-winning features “Cars” and “Toy Story 3.” During the initial production stages for both films, he worked to translate the director’s story ideas into […]

“The Croods” Leads Weekend Box Office

What a difference three years and an deflated expectations make. Three years ago this weekend, Dreamworks had to eat a token amount of crow when How To Train Your Dragon opened with *just* $43 million.
Coming off the $59 million debut of Monsters vs. Aliens a year prior and elevated expectations due to the “new-found” popularity of 3D, the film was written off initially as a slight disappointment with the hopes that strong reviews and word-of-mouth would keep it alive. Of course, the film had insane legs and eventually ended up with $217 million domestic, but that’s another story.
Now, coming off the somewhat disappointing Rise of the Guardians ($303 million worldwide), a series of company lay-offs, and the delaying and/or cancellation of a few projects (like Me and My Shadow), Dreamworks is now trying to sell the (estimated as of this writing) $44 million debut of The Croods as a comeback and/or a massive win for the company.
But not only is this not a comeback, but I would argue that Dreamworks doesn’t have anywhere to come back from and that the perception of their failing after a single disappointing film is indicative of the fall-out of our obsession with rise/fall narratives where they don’t belong.
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos

Celebrating “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” 25th anniversary

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present a new digital restoration of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” in celebration of the film’s 25th anniversary on Thursday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. The evening will feature a post-screening onstage discussion with director Robert Zemeckis and members of the cast and crew, including actress Joanna Cassidy, voice actor Charles Fleischer, supervising animator Andreas Deja, screenwriter Peter S. Seaman and associate producers Don Hahn and Steve Starkey. The panel will be moderated by director Rich Moore, who received an Oscar® nomination for Animated Feature Film for “Wreck-It Ralph” this past year.
A masterful blend of live-action filmmaking and classic animation, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” boldly announced the rebirth of the Disney animation studio. The film endures as an inventive tribute to animation’s golden age that also set a new standard for what the medium could achieve.
“‘Roger Rabbit’ brought together the greatest animators, the most skilled technicians, and the finest talent of the day,” said Zemeckis. “It’s good to have this chance to show our work to both those who remember the film as well as to a new audience.”
“Who Framed Roger Rabbit” (1988) received Oscars® for Film Editing, Sound Effects Editing and Visual Effects, and a Special Achievement Award for Richard Williams’s animation direction. It also was nominated for Art Direction, Cinematography and Sound.
This digital restoration is provided courtesy of the Walt Disney Studios. The Disney restoration team used the original 35mm picture, VistaVision optical work and original sound elements to create this pristine digital version.
Tickets for “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID, and may be purchased online at oscars.org, in person at the Academy box office, or by mail. The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. All seating is unreserved. For more information, call (310) 247-3600 or visit oscars.org.
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ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards–in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners–Academy presents a diverse year-round slate […]

My favorite film among those nominated is ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Argo is not my favorite film of the year. It didn’t even make my best-of-2012 list. It had to settle for the Runner-Ups section along with fellow nominee/front-runner Lincoln, a choice that caused no end of consternation from my mother-in-law who considers both to among her favorite films of 2012.
My favorite film of 2012 is Cabin In the Woods, a film that had about as much of a chance of winning Best Picture this year as Kung Fu Panda 2 did last year. My favorite film among those nominated is Zero Dark Thirty, which went from front-runner to also-ran after Sony made the financial choice to not fight back against the frankly shameful ‘this film endorses torture!’ arguments until after the film’s wide release.
There are a few films that are nominated that I don’t care for (Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook), but I’d have to say that if we’re picking a Best Picture on a the basis of what film most positively represents the year that was 2012, Argo is the best and most logical choice.
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos
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Online auction of two props used in ‘ParaNorman’ – Do Some Good Today!

Animation buffs, movie fans, and memorabilia collectors will all have the chance to own unique hand-crafted materials from one of this year’s Academy Award nominees when Variety – The Children’s Charity of Southern California next week begins hosting the online auction of two props used in LAIKA and Focus Features’ comedy thriller ParaNorman, which is Oscar-nominated for Best Animated Feature Film.
The internet auction is coordinated through Profiles in History, the world’s largest auctioneer of original Hollywood Memorabilia, www.profilesinhistory.com, and will begin on Friday, February 22nd and will end Monday, March 4th. Proceeds from the auction will go to help inspire hope, enrich lives and build a better future for children with special needs in Southern California.
Including a letter of authenticity from LAIKA’s studios in Oregon, where the stop-motion-animated feature was lovingly hand-crafted on-site, the auction lot is for two props that were made in-studio and then featured on-screen; in the film’s story, the town of Blithe Hollow, where ParaNorman’s 11-year-old hero Norman Babcock lives with his family, commissioned a historical plaque commemorating the famous capture of a witch from 300 years ago, along with the accompanying mold “cast” of the witch’s head. In the frightfully funny, magically emotional, and hilariously spooky ParaNorman, the revelation comes that the centuries-old witch’s curse is real and is about to come true – and only Norman will be able to stop it from going into overdrive and harming the townspeople, by summoning up courage and compassion in a wild race against time.
In addition to its Academy Award nomination, ParaNorman has won two Annie Awards (the animation community’s Oscars equivalent) and been cited as best animated feature film by 14 critics’ groups, more than any other 2012 animated feature. ParaNorman was directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler from an original screenplay by Mr. Butler; and was produced by Travis Knight and Arianne Sutner.
Elizabeth O’Neil, Executive Director of Variety – The Children’s Charity of Southern California, said, “The movies that LAIKA and Focus have made together have thrilled and delighted millions. With its anti-bullying theme, ParaNorman has proved particularly impactful for kids. We’re so pleased that beautifully detailed and painstakingly created props from this wondrous tale will now be offered for auction to benefit children in need in our community.”
About Variety – The Children’s Charity of Southern California
Variety – The Children’s Charity of Southern California, founded in 1941, is a 501(c)3 organization made up […]

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