Friday, November 25, 2016

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Animated Feature 2014

The Contenders:

Big Hero 6 (winner)
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

What’s Missing

In three words, The LEGO Movie. In three more words, fuck you, Academy.

Okay, I should also add that two of 2015’s nominations--Boy and the World and When Marnie Was There were released in their respective countries in 2014, but they did get nominations eventually. I should probably watch The Book of Life. My kids liked Rio 2, but I haven’t seen it and probably won’t. Really, though, there’s only one miss here.

Weeding through the Nominees

5. This is one of those years where I want to put a lot of movies in third place. The Boxtrolls, though, isn’t one of those movies. I didn’t like this film much at all. I found the art ugly, the plot silly, and the characters unengaging. The animation is good and I commend it for that, but I don’t have a lot else to say that’s too positive about it. I understand why it was nominated, too, even though I don’t think that it should have been because there were clearly some better choices available. The Academy likes to go far afield sometimes, but this time, they should have left this one off the ballot.

4. I’ll catch hell for putting Big Hero 6 in fourth place, but I don’t really care. There is a lot to love with this movie. The art is truly beautiful and Baymax is one of the great characters of 2014. So why is it here? Because I was disappointed with pretty much every other aspect of it. There was not a single surprise for me in this movie. I knew every single plot point minutes before it happened, and at least one major plot point before I even entered the theater, thanks to a weak trailer. Movies for kids don’t have to be predictable and this one was, and I find that really disappointing. It could have done a lot better…and it didn’t.

3. I enjoyed The Tale of Princess Kaguya quite a bit. This is another case where the artwork is one of the biggest selling points, despite this artwork being vastly different from all of the other nominated films. It’s truly beautiful and expressive, and adds to the story being told in a real way. It’s also a really good story. I’d love to have it higher, but I like two of the other nominations more. While not as important, I think the other two are also easier sells to other people, meaning that I think if I recommended this and the next two to people, this would also be their third pick in most cases.

2. Song of the Sea is a hidden gem. Filmmaker Tomm Moore will probably never win an Oscar, but I hope he keeps making films like this one and getting nominated, because he tells a wonderful story. His art style is interesting, and while it’s not the sort of thing that gets a lot of people excited, it’s interesting and evocative, and I find it beautiful. More importantly, his characters are wonderful and the stories he tells are filled with magic and are appealing to kids as well as adults. This is one that passed by a lot of people, and it shouldn’t have. It’s worth tracking down and enjoying.

1. Of the nominated films, How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the one that does everything right, and I do mean everything. The animation is gorgeous, as is the artwork. The story is compelling and interesting, and, like the first one, goes to some dark places for a kids’ movie. The characters are still wonderful, and interestingly, have been aged up from the first film. The world that the film takes place in has progressed since we’ve seen it last, and I love that they did this. It makes everything that much more believable. It’s a great follow-up to a great first film, and limited to the nominations, it’s my pick. But it’s not really my pick.

My Choice

In three words, The LEGO Movie. In three more words, fuck you, Academy.

Final Analysis

16 comments:

  1. Everything is awesome ... except the Oscars.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, I wish I'd thought of that line.

      Delete
  2. I think this is the first time you've ever done one of these Oscar posts where I haven't seen any of the movies. I guess my niece and nephew are growing up and so I'm not watching nearly as many animated films with them. I'm pretty sure they've seen several of these films, but they don't obsess over them and get the DVD and then watch them over and over like they did as recently as two or three years ago. (I think we have Big Hero 6 laying around the house somewhere. I should probably watch that soon.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not bad, but you'll know what's going to happen 10-15 minutes before it does for the entire movie.

      Delete
  3. For me, The Song of the Sea was the best animated film of the year, and I'm SO HAPPY that it snagged a nom, even if it was at the expense of The LEGO Movie. I loved LEGO, but Song of the Sea was just...so poetic and beautiful and cut right to the core of me. Stunning film all the way around, and probably my #6 of the whole year.

    Big Hero 6 is fun, but generic. I feel the same way about How to Train Your Dragon and actually find it to be lesser than the original.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HTTYD2 may be not quite as good as the first one, but I think the first one is one of the best animated films of the last decade.

      Song of the Sea really is pretty special, and I wish more people knew about it.

      Delete
  4. Tonight my son and I watched the Lego Movie again, for the umpteenth time. Her never tires of it and, well, I need a break from time to time, but even though I know every line it strikes me every time we watch it how well it is crafted and how original it actually is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely. It's as good as animated movies get, and not even getting a nomination is depressing.

      Delete
  5. It's long seemed like Oscar gets a lot wrong, but The LEGO Movie not even getting a nomination for Best Animated Feature is what broke me of this stupid and bloated ceremony once and for all.

    Someone wants to make an argument for awarding the Oscar to Song of the Sea or Dragons 2 (I haven't seen either), fair enough. But The LEGO Movie -- a film so much better in every way than it has any right to be -- not even getting a nomination? The Academy Awards are meaningless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. More or less, this is exactly why I do these every week. Someone needs to right the wrongs and occassionally pat the Academy on the back when, much like a blind squirrel, it finds a nut.

      You should watch Song of the Sea, though, because it's really special.

      Delete
  6. I haven't seen Princess Kaguya or Song of the Sea. I really, really like Big Hero 6 (though I also agree with your points). And Dragon 2 was good, too. I can't really complain about your order, though it doesn't matter anyway. LEGO should have had this, hands down, no questions asked. My favorite movie of that entire year, much less animated movie. And it left the Oscars with nothing--not even song! For shame!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Naturally, I agree. It's certainly one of my favorites from the year as well, and while I'd have loved to see it nominated for Best Picture let alone Best Animated Feature, this is what we're left with.

      Delete
  7. Of these, I've only seen Big Hero 6, but at least I agreee with most of your opinions on that one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the How to Train Your Dragon movies, but the sequel needs the first one to set things up. Song of the Sea and The LEGO Movie are absolutely worth your time.

      Delete
  8. Exactly right. THE LEGO MOVIE.

    (Sorry, just catching up on blog posts).

    I feel the same way you do about Big Hero 6. Some great stuff, but at the end of the day, meh.

    THE LEGO MOVIE. Maybe the best animated movie of the past decade.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Since "the last decade" doesn't include 2004 and therefore doesn't include The Incredibles, I'll agree on The LEGO Movie.

      Delete