It's a pity there wasn't just one more qualified feature animation in the running this year or the block of nominees would have been bumped up from three to five. I really do think Tangled was a superb throwback to my childhood of singing princesses and would have made an excellent contender. I was starting to think it was due to my increasing age that I wasn't able to enjoy or connect with the new attempts. But no, as it turns out, it was just the studios' fault for making mediocre and altogether sub par attempts and making me think that my heart was hardening to old childhood fancies. No longer! And now, in an effort to stop from babbling on before it's too late, I present to you the top three animated feature films and the top five animated shorts.
Best Animated Feature:
This is, hands down, the best Dreamworks picture to date (in my opinion, of course). Ever since Lilo & Stitch came out I have been a huge Chris & Dean fan. They put so much heart and character into what they do. They didn't rely on pop culture references or feature some idiotic karaoke-dance number at the end. It is tenderness and action and exhilaration and everything an animated feature should be. (DreamWorks Animation - Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois)
This traditionally animated feature is quite a refreshing change of pace from all the fast and flashy American animation features that have become the norm. It is a beautiful portrait of melancholy that treats its audience to slowly-building heartache and loneliness. The story doesn't go very far, but it's wonderful to see. And just like with Triplets of Belleville, Mr. Chomet has once again managed an entire movie with with hardly any dialogue at all. Impressive. (Django Films/Sony Pictures Classics - Sylvain Chomet)
I was worried when I first heard that there would be a third Toy Story movie. Any trepidation I had quickly gave way to excitement, though, when I remembered it was Pixar at the helm. And rightly so, as it turned out. This was a huge success for them because it was an excellent end to a consistently good franchise and it proved that quality doesn't have to deteriorate with sequels (or three-quels, I guess would be more appropriate). Also, after Beauty and the Beast and Up, it is the third animated feature to ever be nominated for Best Picture. (Disney/Pixar - Lee Unkrich) Winner!
Best Animated Short:
This has got to be one of my favorite Pixar shorts. Smart and creative and just... just brilliant! The two characters play off each other in an awesome tête à tête, contrasting night and day in a way that's never been done before. Also, the implementation of sound effects is genius. (Teddy Newton) Watch.
This (mostly) 3-D short is based on a children's book, so it has all the traditional elements of childrens' storytelling you'd expect. A brazen mouse outwits three hungry predators and then outwits the terror of the forest himself. Nothing really new there, but the animation is very well done and tremendously improves the tale. The character models are lovingly crafted and I like that they gave everything a tactile appearance (or, at least, their CG characters appear to blend into the physical sets very nicely). (Jakob Schuh and Max Lang) Watch.
This 2-D short looks a bit like those old educational shorts from the 50's, but with a little textural flare thrown in. I mean, it looks great. I just wish I could find an English version. (Geefwee Boedoe) Watch in French. Or check out this much nicer clip in English.
A story about a guy who finds a thing. It's a nice sort of thing and this is a nice sort of 3-D short. Nothing much to it, really, but enjoyable all the same. (Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann) Watch. (after a few seconds the ads go away and the player becomes visible) Winner!
A living, breathing journal. A wide sampling of animation styles offer a detailed, wonderfully textured story, bringing to life the pages of Bastien Dubois' travel journal. It moves effortlessly through painted Madagascar settings rendered in 3-D with stop motion car traffic, watercolor landscapes, pastel people, even colorfully embroidered crowds. Much of it is heavily rotoscoped, but there is always so much to look at - it really does feel as though you're flipping through someone's richly detailed scrapbook. I'm guessing this will win. (Bastien Dubois) Watch.
To catch the live awards show and find out which of these amazing artists is the best at being awesome according to a bunch of people you don't know, tune in Sunday, February 27th.