I am probably one of the only persons in the world who actually really cares about who will get the Best Animated Feature Oscar. To be fair, the Academy Awards are not tailored for animation. The Best Animated Feature award has only existed for a little bit over a decade, after all, and they just tend to nominate whatever they liked that was animated, without much reflexion on what genres they put up against each other, or even if there can be any kind of comparison between the nominated films. But hey, I won’t complain too much. Animation has the Annie Awards.
Yeah, I’ll talk to you about the Annie Awards another day. Anyway, most people care about the Oscars in one way or another. We know that the movies that get nominated, not to mention those who win, are not always worth the hype.
We know that every year, we’re always going to be disappointed, or at least not very excited because those awards are more predictable than any others. Still, it’s grand, it’s famous, and it’s fun. It’s a cultural thing for film buffs and entertainment professionals and I am somewhat part of one or more of those categories. So of the Oscars, I will talk. At least, you know, the one that I care about that nobody ever talks about. Animation is awesome.
Let’s be honest, we all know who is bound to win this year. Not that I’m complaining: I absolutely love Frozen. I think it’s great that Disney has finally decided to start shifting its own formula around. They deserve the Award. And when I say they, Jennifer Lee particularly deserves an award, just for being the woman who wrote Wreck-It-Ralph, then moved on to write and direct Frozen. That lady is awesome. All the kudos to her!
However, there are four other animated feature film nominated in the Best Animated Feature category and, having seen them all, I think they deserve to be talked about, whether it’s because I regret that they don’t have a chance of winning or because I simply don’t understand why they ended up on the list in the first place. Also I am still trying to figure out how I am going to write about the horrible, horrible adult comedy I’ve been watching, so you’re not getting that article for now.
… Ok, I shouldn’t have started with this one, but it was on Netflix Canada, therefore easily accessible, and…
Look. It had good ideas on paper. Some of the jokes definitely worked and the voice actors killed it. Nicolas Cage as a paranoid dad? Yes, approved. Ryan Reynolds as a nerdy boy? I can dig it. Emma Stone as anything? I am naked. But I’m sorry, the writing was weak and manipulative, and the dialogue had the subtlety of a sledge hammer on your little toe. Also, there’s a reason why I only mentioned three characters out of the seven that we follow in the movie: I don’t give a damn about the others. For example, there’s a recurring mother-in-law joke in the movie, and I didn’t laugh at it once. Why? Because, movie, if I don’t know what the mother-in-law ever did to her son-in-law, why would I care about him wanting her to die?
Plus, I’m not gonna lie, guys, The Croods is not even pretty to look at. I mean come on, Dreamworks. You made Kung Fu Panda and How To Train Your Dragon, some of the most gorgeous, well-executed movies of the past few years. When The Croods is on, you’re either drowning in an ocean of brown, or trying to save your eyes from the assault of a thousand colours that should never be put together. Also this.
I guess we can’t all be Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Next.
Ernest et Célestine
How much of my love for that movie comes from watching it after The Croods? I’d say about 5%, which tells you how good the film actually is. Ernest et Célestine is the very definition of adorable. It is clearly meant for kids, but it doesn’t take them for idiots. The flick is well-written (by one of France’s best contemporary writers Daniel Pennac), poetic, heartwarming, not very subtle but still clever in the way it delivers its message. Also, it looks and sounds beautiful. The drawings are simple and cute, the animation is flawless, and the beauty of it and of the music left me quite emotional more than once. I don’t have much else to say about it. Good job, France.
The Wind Rises
This is a tough one. Everything that works about this movie works really well. It is pretty, the music is good, I was happy to get to see Miyazaki hair again and I even cared about the actual story. To be fair, I have a strange fascination for planes, mostly because being in one makes me extremely nervous. Also, I am quite sure that even though the movie is about Jiro Horikoshi, it is very much about Master Miyazaki himself, in more than one way.
I don’t want to give away too much, because I plan on doing a full review of this one, but it did have a lot of problems. First: Jiro himself. People who live in their minds, like him, are not very relatable protagonists, because they always seem so detached from everything. Unless you are one of those, you’re probably going to find him a borderline sociopath. Second: the women are almost absent from this movie. It was a huge disappointment for me, because I’m so used to Miyazaki’s awesome female characters. Third: Now that I’ve seen it, I understand why it is controversial. Again, not going to talk about it much for now, but anybody who knows about Japan and WWII will have opinions about this movie. I am one of them.
Not my favourite Miyazaki, but not an awful movie.
Despicable Me 2
I shouldn’t have started with The Croods and I shouldn’t have ended with Despicable Me 2. Compared to the poetic Ernest Et Célestine, the controversial The Wind Rises, the awesome Frozen, and even to the general badness of The Croods, it doesn’t have much to say. It is a good movie, though. I was certainly entertained by the story. Lucy is quite the awesome character, too. The minions are as hilarious as ever. Also, I still love nerdy, not-very-pretty Gru as a character. But yeah… it was not much more than entertaining. I found it less heartwarming than the first one. Lucy is awesome, but I don’t think Gru needed a love interest, just like the girls didn’t need a mother. Despicable Me was about a weird little family that still works because screw social conventions, and the sequel arrived and put everybody back in the box. So in the end, I just found it… okay.
So here’s my two cents about this year’s nominees for Best Animated Feature. If ever the Academy Awards miraculously goes to any other film than Frozen, I will see you for a «The hell just happened » article.
Oh, and if Let It Go wins in the Best Original Song category, I hope that Idina Menzel will get to sing. I really, really don’t want to hear what Demi Lovato’s voice sounds like without auto-tune.