Part 31: Animated Feature Nominees

“The lesson here, my daughters, is that Afghanistan has always been the home of the bravest women in the world. You are all brave women.” – the Father, The Breadwinner

animfeature

It was a very animated day…pun intended.  In my opinion, this is one of the weaker categories this season.  Big shocker that yet another Pixar film found it’s way to a nomination.  I thought these nominations were an odd bunch – and none of them really jumped out at me, with the exception of one – so I did a little reading and I think I figured out one of the reasons why.

If you jump back to my first post in this series where I rambled on about the voting process, I mentioned that the films in the specific categories are nominated only by peers of the specific category.  So this category used to be nominated and voted on by animation industry people only.  This year, the Academy changed that rule fo this category and now any Time, Dick, or Harry who is a member of the Academy can vote in this category.  Which makes no sense at all.  I think that’s an absolute shame, and I think that’s why the nominees this year are so random and why some aren’t that deserving of the nomination.

But, anyways, here’s the scoop on the films nominated for Best Animated Feature:

Coco

I had heard good things about this one when it first came out. It’s a Pixar film, so of course it had some big time press.  I liked the Day of the Dead theme of the movie – it made for some really cool animation and great color – there are some parts of this movie that are visually awesome (e.g. the Land of the Dead).  They obviously did their research on the Mexican culture and transitions so I think you have to appreciate that.  I didn’t think the storyline was super original conceptually – we’ve seen it many times before – so overall this one was just good, not great.  I can certainly understand its mass appeal given it is a Pixar film, so it has a couple of catchy songs, a goofy little stray dog, and some appealing characters.  Is it the best animated feature ever? No; is it better than some of the nominees this year? For sure.  If box office numbers influence voters, this one has a solid chance at a win because it’s a Pixar film. It’s not a bad choice for the win, but I think that would be a shame if that’s how it plays out because there’s one really good one in this group that would be completely overlooked.

Ferdinand

This is an adaptation of the classic kid’s book, Ferdinand the Bull, and it’s cute in a never-getting-anywhere-in-the-plot kind of way.  And within like the first 15-20 there’s a “bull in a china shop” gag which I appreciated since I say that about one of my dogs all the time!  I liked Ferdinand the actual bull.  I mean how could you not like a flower sniffing bull.  But I was not a huge fan of the extra characters.  They were just outright bizarre and misplaced.  Which was a real disappointment given that the goat was voiced by my favorite SNL comedian, Kate McKinnon.  PLEASE GIVE HER A QUALITY CHARACTER.  Good lord.  Anyways, I really hate to say this because it is such a great and classic children’s book, but don’t waste your time on this one unless your kiddos are forcing your hand.  1936 called and it wants its book back.

Boss Baby

The absurdity of Alec Baldwin as the voice of a baby – boss or not – was more than I had patience for today.  I mean really?  REALLY?  Ugh.  I barely got through this one; I thought it was very lack-luster and that there was a general lack of focus during the entire movie.  Dumb storyline.  Dumb ideas.  Dumb characters.  Dumb Baby with a receding hairline.  Just real stupid.  Fortunately I had dishes to clean and laundry to fold so the time spent on this one wasn’t a complete waste.  Why is this even nominated for an Oscar?  Didn’t Finding Dory come out during this Oscar season?  Even if it didn’t there had to be other animated feature films that were WAY better than this.  I don’t get it.

Loving Vincent

I went into this one with pretty high expectations.  It’s had a ton of press and really solid reviews.  The story takes place the year following Van Gogh’s death – so jump back to the 1890s.  But, as I was watching this one, I kept saying to myself “ self, why do I feel like I have seen this before??”  Well, it’s because this movie is 13 Reasons Why with Peaky Blinders accents – which by the way are not Dutch, and I’m pretty sure Vincent Van Gogh was Dutch.  I spent more time trying to figure out all of the different accents, wondering why none of them sounded Dutch or French (France is where it was set I gather).  I mean they were all over the place and it was disracting.  The story was also a bit choppy; it seems to start and stop in a real odd fashion.  The best part is the closing credits (yes, I feel like an a-hole saying that!).  I liked seeing the Van Gogh paintings that the characters were based off of – they did a nice job with that.

With respect to the animation of this film, they did a fantastic job.  It, I believe, is the first of its kind in that the entire film is painted (in a Van Gogh style – how fitting). It’s almost a live-action film at that.  For that reason alone, I’d say it’s worth a watch (an by that I mean, watch maybe 20 minutes of it sand yo’ll get the gist), but overall it didn’t really meet my expectations.

The Breadwinner

Not a kid-friendly animated feature film as the subject matter is pretty dark/serious (war, human rights).  It’s a bit sobering, but this is a good one.  A really, really good one.  This is a story about a young girl growing up in the Taliban-era Afghanistan who has to learn how to take care of her family after her father is taken away to prison.  Hence what I mean by serious subject matter.  And you know what, thank god for that.  FINALLY a fresh and time-appropriate story, and considering the lead character is female – keep in mind she is living in a society where females have no rights – AND she perseveres and finds her voice, this is really a solid film which will resonate with anyone who hasn’t had their head the sand for the past 2 decades.

Y’all, story aside, the animation alone is top notch. There are two different types of animation in this movie that distinguish the main story with the sub story.  That’s a huge risk because it could have been very distracting, but it was just executed so well. There’s so much great detail in the scenery and the characters and the different plot lines are all brought together at the end so perfectly it’s ridiculous.

There are some suggestively violent scenes in this one (you don’t see it, but you hear it) and it is a war-era film.  I would not label this one as kid-friendly in that I think you’d have to explain war/inequality/human rights, etc to the younger kiddos.  That being said, it is hands down, the best one in the category and the only one I think is deserving of a nomination.  I sincerely hope it doesn’t get passed over for the win by the voters for one of the big – and not so good – budget studio films.

Bottom Line – The new voting rule seems as though all we’ll be seeing are half-ass big budget movies and some odd-balls, which is not a good sign. I swear if that damn Baby one wins my head will literally explode.  Yall.  There’s only one movie in this group worth watching – The Breadwinner – it is not only a really good animated feature film, it’s simply just a really good movie.

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