By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: And then there were nine.
Yes, it is grotesquely early to begin the annual Oscar race. Rarely do we see legitimate contenders in June. But one would have to assume that Pixar’s “Toy Story 3,” which opens today, has locked up one of the 10 Best Picture slots for 2011.
Pixar’s presence in the Best Animated Feature Film category is a given. Since the category was created in 2001, Pixar has sent seven features to compete and walked away with five prizes.
But Pete Docter’s “Up” set a precedent earlier his year by scoring both a Best Picture and a Best Animated Feature Film nod, winning the latter (as well as an Oscar for Michael Giacchino’s memorable score). Yes, the nomination field expanded from 5 to 10, making way for “Up” without necessarily giving it a legitimate chance to compete. But at the very least, Pixar got “Up” into the Best Picture conversation.
Why wouldn’t “Toy Story 3″ nudge in, as well? Lee Unkrich’s brilliant sequel currently has a pitch-perfect 100% Fresh grade on Rotten Tomatoes, with 108 positive reviews filed in its honor. And even if one spoil sport sullies the record (*cough* *cough* Armond White *cough* *cough*), it won’t diminish the opinion that “Toy Story 3″ is one of the year’s best films.
Will the Academy agree? It seems likely. So one of 10 slots appears to be filled. Which films will fill out the rest of Oscar’s ballot?
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By Sean O’Connell
With the highly anticipated “Toy Story” sequel in the summer-movie pipeline, Pixar tossed two more projects on our radars by announcing release dates.
Pixar’s “Monsters Inc. 2″ will hit theaters on Nov. 16, 2012. It will be filmed and presented in 3-D (of course).
But that’s not the only Pixar feature being released that year. In addition, Walt Disney Pictures announced during a presentation that Pixar’s “Brave,” formerly titled “The Bear and the Bow,” will be released on June 15, 2012.
“Up” director Pete Docter helmed the original “Monsters,” which found John Goodman and Billy Crystal voicing the beasts who emerge from kids’ closets to harvest screams. There’s no word on the plot of the sequel, or news regarding the return of Goodman, Crystal or Docter, though I’d bet Docter returns to the franchise he created for Pixar (much like John Lasseter did for the second “Toy Story” before handing things over to Lee Unkrich.
As for “Brave,” it follows the story of a defiant Scottish princess named Merida, who will be voiced by Reese Witherspoon. It will be directed by Brenda Chapman, whose animation credits include work on “The Prince of Egypt,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King” and Pixar’s “Cars.”
BY SEAN O’CONNELL
Ryan Piers Williams’ “The Dry Land,” a Sundance Film Festival favorite, took home the top prize at the Dallas International Film Festival Friday evening, earning a $25,000 cash prize for the Target Filmmaker Award for Best Narrative Feature. In addition, Lucy Walker’s “Waste Land” received a $25,000 cash prize for the Target Filmmaker Award for Best Documentary Feature.
“Dry Land” stars America Ferrera and Wilmer Valderrama were on hand during the fest. Their film follows a U.S. soldier as he returns home from Iraq to Texas and tries to assimilate back into society.
The Documentary competition jury also gave a Special Jury Prize to Michael Pertnoy’s and Michael Kleiman’s “The Last Survivor” and a Special Mention for Editing (for Claire Didier’s work on the film) to Mark Landsman’s “Thunder Soul.”
DALLAS Star Award recipient John Lee Hancock (THE BLIND SIDE) made the presentation of the Target Filmmaker Awards during an evening that also included the presentations of the DALLAS Star Awards to Academy Award nominated director Frank Darabont (“The Green Mile”) and cinematographer Wally Pfister (“The Dark Knight”), as well as the Texas Avery Animation Award to Pete Docter (Pixar’s “Up”).
Hancock’s award was presented by “Prison Break” producer Garry Brown, Darabont received his award from longtime Dallas area film critic Philip Wuntsch, and Pfister’s DALLAS Star Award has handed to him by longtime friend and Dallas Film Society Chairman Michael Cain. Docter was introduced by REEL FX Entertainment’s Animation Director Bryan Engram.
Matt Harlock’s and Paul Thomas’ AMERICAN: THE BILL HICKS STORY was the recipient of MPS Studios’ Texas Filmmaker Award and $20,000 in cash, goods and services. Robert Byington’s HARMONY AND ME received a Special Jury Prize. The presentation was made by MPS Studios’ Meredith Stephens with Bill Hicks’ niece Rachel Hicks on hand to accept the award.
Amy Grappell’s QUADRANGLE won the award for Best Short. Special Jury Prizes went to David Call’s B.U.S.T., Chris Teague’s MONKEYWRENCH and Kelly Sears’ VOICE ON THE LINE. Daniel Elliot’s JADE received a Special Mention for Acting for Aisling Loftus’ performance in the film. The award for Best Student Short went to Beth Spitalny’s PROCESSION. Shorts jurors Jon Korn and Kaz Radwanski presented the awards. Reel FX ENTERTAINMENT XXChief Operating Officer Kyle Clark presented the award for Best Animated Short to Cordell Barker’s RUNAWAY.
Will Cannon’s BROTHERHOOD won the Audience Award for Best Narrative, while Mark Landsman’s THUNDER SOUL won for Best Documentary and T.G. [...]
Pixar Animation Studio’s Up wins the Best Animated Feature honor at the 37th Annual Annie Awards held at UCLA’s Royce Hall on Saturday, Feb. 6.
Walt Disney Animation Studios won six Annies overall including three for its feature The Princess and the Frog and three for its television production Prep and Landing. DreamWorks Animation won five Annies including Best Television Production for Children and Directing/TV for The Penguins of Madagascar, Character Animation/TV and Storyboarding/Feature for Monsters vs. Aliens and Storyboarding/TV for Merry Madagascar. A complete list of winners can be viewed at the Annie Award’s official website www.annieawards.org. The Annie Awards ceremony will be webcast on the Annies website beginning Tuesday, February 9, 2010.
Best Home Entertainment Production went to 20th Century Fox’s Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder; Best Animated Short Subject went to ShadowMachine’s Robot Chicken: Star Wars 2.5; Acme Filmworks won Best Animated Television Commercial for Spanish Lottery ‘Deportees’; Best Animated Television Production went to Disney’s Prep and Landing; and Best Animated Television Production for Children went to DreamWorks’ The Penguins of Madagascar.
The Winsor McCay award was given to three industry leaders – Tim Burton, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Bruce Timm. Named in honor of the prolific animator, Winsor McCay, this award stands as one of the highest honors given to an individual in the animation industry in recognition for career contributions to the art of animation. Tim Burton accepted his Winsor via video. Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor, director, producer and one of pop culture’s most recognizable figures, William Shatner, handled hosting duties this year and was joined on stage by a lively mix of animation luminaries, celebrity presenters and comedic talent including animation legend June Foray, actors Seth Green, John Leguizamo, Sean Astin and industry notables Pete Docter, Ed Catmull and Henry Selick. A special tribute to the late Roy Disney was introduced by Don Hahn.
“ASIFA-Hollywood congratulates all of the Annie Award winners,” said ASIFA-Hollywood President Antran Manoogian. “With so many outstanding animated productions and talented artists vying for an Annie, it made it another difficult year to select the best in our industry.”
Often a predictor of the annual Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, the Annie Awards recognize the year’s best animated features, television productions, commercials, short subjects and outstanding individual achievements in the field of animation. Entries submitted for consideration were from productions that originally aired, were exhibited in an animation festival, or commercially [...]
The Hollywood Reporter has compiled a list of notable reactions from the Oscar nominees. Read some of them below:
“I do believe some liposuction is in order, a very strict diet regime, and I will acquire a very light English accent. I was going to say that I should start wearing glasses, but I already wear glasses, so I am already sort of there.”
“Every once in a while, things going on in the bigger picture fuel the success of a film. People wanted to have something resonate on the positive side.”
“I’d always assumed that the road to Oscar was planned. I thought people chose projects that were considered ‘Oscar-worthy.’ No one wanted to make this film. I didn’t want to make this film for the better part of the year. Everyone is as blindsided — can I say that? — as I am.”
- Sandra Bullock, Best Actress nominee for The Blind Side
“I’m so grateful to have the honor of a fifth Oscar nomination, but to share this with my Crazy Heart colleagues T Bone and Ryan and my amazing co-star Maggie is truly special – this film is near and dear to my heart and theirs. I want to thank the Academy for being so kind to me for the past 40 years, and I want to thank my director Scott Cooper for helping bring Bad Blake to life, and to my wonderful wife Sue for being there for me the past 33 years. Today is filled with blessings”
- Jeff Bridges, Best Actor nominee for Crazy Heart
“Congratulations to Matt Damon on his nomination. I’m especially grateful to Clint Eastwood, ‘Invictus’ producer Lori McCreary, and the entire cast and crew of ‘Invictus.’ Most importantly, thank you to Nelson Mandela for his encouragement, his blessing and his friendship — without which, this film would not have been possible.”
- Morgan Freeman, nominated for Best Actor – Invictus
“This is more exhilarating than I could have ever imagined. What a tremendous honor from the Academy– a blazing stamp in the passport of an artist that can never be taken away and will always be cherished.”
- Jeremy Renner, Best Actor nominee for The Hurt Locker
“I’m so grateful to have the honor of a fifth Oscar nomination, but to share this with my Crazy Heart colleagues T Bone and Ryan and my amazing co-star Maggie is truly special – this film is near and dear to my [...]
BAFTA has announced the nominations and the list includes lead nods going to “Avatar,” “An Education,” and “The Hurt Locker.” That is not to say that they didn’t throw us some surprises in the meantime. Many films that have been in the buzz that were left out are the acclaimed “Bright Star” by Jane Campion, “Invictus,” Julianne Moore’s nom for “A Single Man,” as well as Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummber’s noms for their roles in “The Last Station.”
The winners will be announced at the Orange British Academy Film Awards in London on February 21.
Below is the complete list:
The Hurt Locker
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Up In The Air
Outstanding British Film
In The Loop
James Cameron, Avatar
Neill Blomkamp, District 9
Lone Schefig, An Education
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up In The Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
Andy Serkis, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Saoirse Ronan, The Lovely Bones
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
Audrey Tautou, Coco Before Chanel
Alec Baldwin, It’s Complicated
Christian Mckay, Me And Orson Welles
Alfred Molina, An Education
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Anne-Marie Duff, Nowhere Boy
Vera Farmiga, Up In The Air
Anna Kendrick, Up In The Air
Mo’nique, Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire
Kristin Scott Thomas, Nowhere Boy
Outstanding Debut By A British Writer, Director Or Producer
Lucy Bailey, Andrew Thompson, Elizabeth Morgan Hemlock, David Pearson Directors, Producers – Mugabe And The White African
Eran Creevy Writer/Director – Shifty Stuart
Hazeldine Writer/Director – Exam
Duncan Jones Director – Moon
Sam Taylor-Wood Director – Nowhere Boy
The Hangover (Jon Lucas, Scott Moore)
The Hurt Locker (Mark Boal)
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
A Serious Man (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen)
Up (Bob Peterson, Pete Docter)
District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell)
An Education (Nick Hornby)
In The Loop (Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche)
Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire (Geoffrey Fletcher)
Up In The Air Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner
Film Not In The English Language
Coco Before Chanel
Let The Right One In
The White Ribbon
Fantastic Mr Fox
Fantastic Mr Fox
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll
The Hurt Locker
The Hurt Locker
Up In The Air
Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince
The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus
Coco Before Chanel