And the Snubs Are…

The Academy Awards are my ‘bad boyfriend’ relationship.  I’m always excited to see him, regardless of how many times he’s broken my heart in the past.  He teases me with flashes of brilliance and promises he doesn’t intend to keep.  Every year he lures me into thinking he’s changed and every year he stubbornly doesn’t.

Last year’s Oscars were rough (even without Anne Hathaway and James Franco awkwardly at the helm).  Christopher Nolan (who must have slept with one of the board member’s daughters and never called her back…that’s the only explanation) isn’t nominated for Best Director while his mind-bending feature Inception is up for Best Picture.  Daft Punk receives no recognition for their work creating the amazing score for Tron: Legacy (I couldn’t honestly spend the rest of this post ranting about last year’s Best Original Score category, but I’ll resist).  The editing and sound design of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was stylish and awesome, but the whacked out genre of the film probably didn’t even put it on the Academy’s radar.  I could go on…I really could.  But we’re not here to cry about the past.  No, we’re here to cry about the present.

I’m only going to focus on one category in particular though, because of all of them, this one has always personally been an endless source of torment; Best Animated Feature.  While I can’t draw to save my life, animation is kind of my jam, and as such, I made it my mission to watch all the nominated films.

A Cat In Paris: It amazed me how much I loved this movie.  I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t that.  A beautiful story that was equal parts hilarious, heartwarming, heartbreaking, and exciting.  Every single  character was wonderful and the animation was just gorgeous.  Though it certainly didn’t look like it, there were honestly times when I felt like I was watching a live action film, everything was just that natural.

Chico & Rita: I can see why it was nominated, but it wasn’t my favorite.  I absolutely loved the music and the almost motion captured feel of the animation, but I felt like the story was nothing I hadn’t seen before.  The characters were incredible realistic and well done, but I didn’t find myself growing very attached to any of them.  Also, don’t even bother with the trailer.  It pretty much lays out the whole movie for you in under 2 minutes.

Kung Fu Panda 2: I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am to see this movie finally get a bit of recognition.  One of those rare sequels that surpasses it’s prequel in leaps and bounds, Kung Fu Panda 2 was hilarious, kick-ass, surprisingly heart warming, and actually seemed to get kung fu rather than use it as just an action-y gimmick.  It really was the best Bruce Lee tribute ever.  It’s also nice to see a female director finally nominated in this category (aside from Marajane Satrapi, who shared her nomination for Persepolis with Vincent Paronnaud).

Puss In Boots: I suspect I went into this movie with my mind already made up about it.  I cannot stand the Shrek franchise.  I was so happy to finally be done with it, so when Puss in Boots was announced (with an incredibly obnoxious and annoying trailer to boot), I was the polar opposite of enthused.  The movie was better than I expected it to be, the Zorro fangirl in my heart feeling oddly satisfied, but it was still nothing I’d watch twice, and certainly nothing deserving of an Oscar nomination.

Rango: Its funny to think there was a time when I’d lost all interest in seeing this movie.  Thank god I had persistent roommates.  Rango stunned me with how deep it got at times.  It was still fun to watch, but man, some serious issues were being worked out throughout it.  It was as true a western as any John Ford movie, and in keeping with most of the other nominees, it’s animation was fantastic.  I didn’t even mind that Johnny Depp was in it.

After finally watching them all, I have come to this conclusion:

Where the hell is Tintin?

It seems the Academy does not have a clue on how to deal with motion capture (yet more fuel for the ‘crusty old men’ fire).  It screws actors out of recognition for their performances (serious, can’t Andy Serkis get a little love?) and features out of the animated category.  This twist on the Animated Feature rule was just put in this year, apparently to prevent things like Avatar from being nominated.  Wouldn’t films like Avatar be disqualified anyway since half the movie is, you know, live action?  On that note, I’d just like to take a moment to let everyone know that both The Smurfs and Chipwrecked were up for consideration.  How?!  Back in 2006, Monster House, a fully animated motion capture film, was nominated and nobody batted an eye.  It lost to Happy Feet, but that’s a whole other rant entirely.  The Adventures of Tintin deserves to be on this list.  It was an animated feature and it was one of the most amazing movies I’d seen all year.  I had one moment of glee upon seeing the nominees.  I’ve never been more elated to see Pixar missing from the list.  Cars 2 was terrible.  Surprisingly terrible, and my despair not seeing The Adventures of Tintin take it’s place could only be described as complete.  It should have been a shoe in.

Another film I was sad to not see present (haha, puns) was Arthur Christmas.  Maybe holiday films are another unspoken Oscar taboo.  I don’t like Christmas movies, I really don’t.  There’s maybe about 4 that I’ll watch and enjoy, and 1 of them isn’t even about Christmas.  That’s just when it happens to take place.  But Arthur Christmas was different.  It was hilarious and cynical but by the end of it, I honestly felt all heart-warmed.  I loved all the characters, even the ones I hated.  It was a bit different seeing Aardman Animation doing CG instead of claymation, but fantastic none the less.

But one of them has to win, and sadly, it’s not going to be Tintin.  That leaves me a bit torn, actually.  I’d love to see A Cat In Paris win because, like I said, it blew my mind.  I’d love for a female director to win as well, so I’d be pleased with Kung Fu Panda 2 as well.  Rango was likewise mind-blowing, but it has something in common with Chico & Rita, when it comes to my motives for backing them.  Neither are really for kids.  Rango was marketed like that, and it could get away with it for the most part, but in all honest it was a movie adults wound up appreciating far more.  Chico & Rita had full frontal female nudity within the first 20 minutes, so it certainly isn’t a kids movie.  And that’s why I’d like to see either of them win the most.

I can’t even begin to count the number of debates (arguments) I’ve had with people over the credibility of animation.  In the words of Brad Bird, ‘animation is a medium, not a genre’.  I’d love to see animated movies geared towards adults take more of the spotlight.  The closest thing to an animated movie to even be nominated in this category was Persepolis, and it certainly didn’t win.  Waltz With Bashir wasn’t even given the chance (though it was otherwise occupied being nominated for Best Foreign Feature).  I dream of a world where you can use animation to tell any story for any audience, and have it viewed on the same level as live action features.

But then I recall the crusty old men, and I’m forced to realize (with a saddened sigh), that animation will continue to be marginalized.  Just like genre films, just like comedies, just like everything that isn’t a humanist drama.  I mean really, look at the Best Picture nominees this year.  I thought the whole point of upping the limit to 10 (and I only count 9) was to nominated a wider range of films and broaden the award’s viewers.  I’m sure they’re all fantastic (except War Horse), but I don’t see this year’s selections achieving that at all.  But despite all my lamenting, I’ll still watch the actual awards show…all four hours of it.  I’ll pray for a miracle only to end the night realizing that nothing has changed.  And then I’ll sit and wait for my ‘bad boyfriend’ to come back and do the whole song & heartbreaking dance all over again next year.




And where the hell is Alan Menken’s nomination for “The Star-Spangled Man With A Plan”?  There’s only two nominees for Best Original Song, and that one was stuck in my head for weeks!

Seriously...all day with this song.

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  1. Posted January 26, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I couldn’t help but notice of all the nominees for Best Picture I have seen a grand total of zero. Not because I don’t watch a lot of movies -I do- because not one of them looked interesting. I started ignoring the Oscars a long time ago, and this year really cinches it.

    • Shannon
      Posted January 28, 2012 at 5:00 am | Permalink

      I know exactly what you mean. I haven’t seen a single one either, and the only one I really want to see is Hugo. I’m sure I could make it through The Artist and Moneyball as well, but I just look at the rest with a shrug and a big ol’ “meh”.

      Except War Horse. I made it 20 minutes and had to stop ’cause I was laughing so hard.

      • Posted January 30, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

        I couldn’t get through the trailer of War Horse. It looks like the cheesiest nonsense.

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