Here’s what happened today in Oscar History.
(November 27, 2016) Original
June 16, 2017
From IMDb: “Lightning McQueen sets out to prove to a new generation of racers that he’s still the best race car in the world.”
Review: There was no poster immediately available for my review. Should one become available in the future, this section will be updated.
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Review: What a tease this is. Are we going to get a wholly new art style with this third Cars outing or is it going to reveal the whole thing as a fantasy within the mind of a real NASCAR driver? The possibilities are endless. However, after the Planes and Cars 2 fiascos, there isn’t a lot of hope left.
Sequels don’t do well at the Oscars in the Best Animated Feature category; however, if the film really is a reinvention of itself, then it’s possible it could be a player.
Kenneth Lonergan’s drama Manchester by the Sea picked up three prizes from the National Board of review, including Best Picture. Many of the year’s key competitors are in evidence here with some noteworthy surprises such as Hidden Figures earning the ensemble award and the here-to-fore unseen Silence placing on the list in spite of that.
(3) Manchester by the Sea
We had five films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.
Robert Zemeckis was once a huge name in the realm of cinema. Apart from his Back to the Future films, Zemeckis also brought us 80s classics like Romancing the Stone and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Best Picture Oscar winner Forrest Gump and one of the great sci-fi films of all-time, Contact. Even as the 00’s broke, Zemeckis put forth popular efforts like Cast Away and The Polar Express.
Yet, somehow, his post-Gump legacy has been Oscar anemic. That’s why the period romantic spy thriller Allied seemed like an opportunity for him to nab box office hit with two recognizable and sexy stars in the lead and play for Oscar’s attention at the same time. The problem is that even his Oscar-nominated recent effort Flight couldn’t muster the degree of critical support he once enjoyed.
La La Land had a tremendous day with an astounding 13 nominations. The next film down on the list was Hacksaw Ridge, which needed some measure of recognition from the precursors to remain relevant. Also helped by these nominations: Hidden Figures, a film that didn’t seem on many radars until it was pulled back to get a limited release for the 2016 Oscar season. These 6 citations give it some measure of bragging rights.
The problem for these films is that the Satellite Awards are the black sheep of the precursor family. Constantly altering their announcement dates you can find on their website (this is at least the second time that they’ve announced earlier than their announced revelation date), organizing their press release in a seemingly random order rather than alphabetical, featuring countless typos throughout the document, and overstuffing each category. All of these things don’t reflect well on the organization, which seems about as disorganized as you can get. That they are frequently and fairly compared to their glitzier counterparts at the Golden Globes, I wouldn’t put too much stock in these nominations. That is especially true considering how likely it is they didn’t see everything that releases late in the year, or insufficient numbers of their members did.
(13) La La Land
(9) Hacksaw Ridge
(7) The Jungle Book, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight
(6) Hidden Figures
(5) Jackie, Lion
(4) Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Captain Fantastic, Fences
(3) Hell or High Water, Loving, Nocturnal Animals, Sully
Travis Knight is making his directorial debut with the brilliantly conceived Kubo and the Two Strings, but he is no stranger to the world of animated films. He was the lead animator on Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls, all of which were among the finest animated films of recent years.
Although Kubo and the Two Strings seems steeped in Japanese myth, it is in fact an original story written by Shannon Tindle and Marc Haimes, with a screenplay by Haimes and Chris Butler. Like many recent animated films, this one features an all-star cast of voice actors, but unlike many such films, the actors here are all put to good use. Charlize Theron gets top billing as the widowed mother trying to keep her son hidden from the forces of evil that have taken one eye and want to take his other one. Art Parkinson is the voice of her son, Kubo, who ventures out in the day, but must return home by nightfall to avoid being found by his fearsome maternal grandfather (voiced by Ralph Fiennes) and wicked aunts (two Rooney Maras for the price of one). Matthew McConaughey voices the spirit of Kubo’s late father while the always marvelous Brenda Vaccaro offers some delightful bon mots as Kubo’s elderly friend. The stop-motion animation employed is the best I’ve seen, particularly in the film’s stunning climax. This one is a must-see.
Kubo and the Two Strings is available on Blu-ray 3D, 2D, and standard DVD.
(November 27, 2016) Original
March 3, 2017
From IMDb: “February 12 is just another day in Sam’s charmed life until it turns out to be her last. Stuck reliving her last day over one inexplicable week, Sam untangles the mystery around her death and discovers everything she’s in danger of losing. ”
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Review: This strange, almost hypnotic design is simple, but effective when full knowledge of the film’s premise is taken into account.
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Review: The trailer is thankfully not confusing. It does seem to lack a sense of direction, but the concept is solid and there’s enough here to offer fans of the source material, as well as potential new fans to be interested.
As the precursor awards continue unabated until Oscar night, I’m going to be providing a weekly update highlighting the films that have won and lost momentum through the precursor awards (and in some cases other outside influences).
Our first precursor of the year, the Spirit Awards nominations, came out last week. The below commentary is based solely on that information. The next couple of weeks will be very busy (as you can see below).
But, before we get into this week’s winners and losers, let’s take a look at what’s coming up this week:
Monday, Nov. 28 – Annie Awards Nominations (Official)
Tuesday, Nov. 29 – National Board of Review Awards (Official)
Wednesday, Nov. 30 – New York Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Thursday, Dec. 1 – Broadcast Critics Nominations (Official)
Thursday, Dec. 1 – Satellites Nominations (Official)
Saturday, Dec. 3 – DC Critics Nominations (Unconfirmed)
Saturday, Dec. 3 – Boston Online Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Sunday, Dec. 4 – Los Angeles Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Sunday, Dec. 4 – NY Online Critics Awards (Unconfirmed)
Monday, Dec. 5 – Grammy Awards Nominations (Unconfirmed)
Monday, Dec. 5 – DC Critics Awards (Official)
By benefit of receiving a double nomination in a single category, Zootopia barely edges out Kubo and the Two Strings for the year’s most nominated animated feature. The two will likely be duking it out for dominance with Kubo‘s more inventive stop-motion animation sure to be a foil to the Disney juggernaut from earlier this year.
Noteworthy snubs: Sing, the unreleased animated singing competition film, earned only a single nomination. The Little Prince earned two nominations, neither of which was in a major category. Finding Dory may have earned an Animated Feature citation, but its 3 nominations is utterly anemic. The same can be said for Kung Fu Panda 3, an early-year release that may have been largely forgotten (though Zootopia was not). Moana did well, but clearly the Disney film of the year according to the Annie Awards, at least in terms of the Disney/Pixar slate, is Zootopia.
Their annual awards ceremony is worth a few chuckles in spite of its meager production values. Stream it if you can.
(10) Kubo and the Two Strings
(5) The Red Turtle
(4) Kung Fu Panda 3, Trolls
(3) Finding Dory, My Life As a Zucchini
Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.
So, here is what I watched this past week:
Disney made a name for itself in animation, where softened fairy tales gave young girls figures to look up to. That tradition continued through the 1950s before being supplanted by adventures that had cross-gender appeal, but as the fortunes of the animation division faltered, it revitalized itself in the late 1980s with its princess movies redeveloped. Moana is the latest in a long tradition of stories with female-empowerment angles. As modern tastes have improved, so too have the strength of their characters.
Moana, which follows the story of a young island girl who longs to be at sea, answering the siren’s call, while her father fights to keep her land-bound to protect their people. As their island’s fortunes diminish, and through the goading of her paternal grandmother, Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) sets sail across the ocean to locate the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson), with whom she must locate his magical fishhook, and return the Heart of Te Fiti, the creator goddess, and save the world.
Cravalho is a treasure. Her vocal talents are immense and while Johnson more than carries his own, it’s Cravalho who dominates. The animation is beautiful, which is par for Disney’s course. What isn’t, though, is a song score that has some nice moments, but is ultimately filled with minor tunes that aren’t nearly as hummable or memorable as those of animated films past. There are bright spots, but they are tempered with their own frustrating elements: “I Am Moana” features a soaring vocal, but ends abruptly; “You’re Welcome” is catchy, but overstays its welcome; “We Know the Way,” is catchy, but was overused in the trailers, making it feel stale within the film itself; and “Shiny” is a humorous villain number, but it is also cut short unnecessarily.
There’s plenty to love about Moana, but it doesn’t feel as strong as Frozen, nor as inventive as The Princess and the Frog or Wreck-It Ralph. The best comparison is probably Tangled, which was entertaining to a fault, but ultimately not one of the most memorable of Disney’s animated efforts.
This week saw a number of groups sending screeners. The Orchard sent five; Amazon Studios sent five; DreamWorks/Universal sent one; Fox Searchlight sent one; Focus Features sent one; The Weinstein Company sent one; and DreamWorks/20th Century Fox sent one.
Oscar Chances: None: While Rebecca Hall has received excellent notices, the Best Actress category is filled to overflowing with potential nominees, making her chances insignificant.