Why The Oscars’®©™ Best Picture award is a farce

Toy Story 3 didn’t win Best Picture this year. I wouldn’t mind so much if I thought it ever had a real fighting chance. It didn’t win for one simple reason: It’s animation. No other reason.

While I haven’t seen all the other nominees this year, I have seen True Grit and Inception. TS3 was much better than Inception – Christopher Nolan’s characters always have about as much depth as they did in Dark Knight Returns. I won’t say TS3 was definitively better than True Grit. It’s a point on which I could have a long enjoyable debate and not feel bad if I didn’t change the other person’s mind.

But TS3 deserved to win because it’s a great movie and because the Academy owes Pixar for years of other snubs. Find me another company that has consistently produced so many great movies. Everything they’ve done except for the horrible (by Pixar standards) Cars and the not-bad-but-not-great Bugs Life, has been amazing. WALL*E is a movie that will be taught in film classes a hundred years from now. Ratatouille is one of the great movies of ideas of all time.

Now WALL*E  didn’t get a best picture nod in 2007 but it was up against a pretty amazing crop of moviesNo Country For Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Juno, Atonement and Michael Clayton. I love Juno but it sure as heck wasn’t in WALL*E ‘s league. The following year Ratatouille ran into a similar problem. So I am willing to cut the Academy a little slack for not nominating them. Last year the list of nominees expanded to 10 and Up got a nomination it deserved. Looking at the list of movies it should have gotten a nomination even if the list had been the usual 5 flicks. (Avatar? I’ve seen soap stains that made a better film. I really like District 9 and I don’t think it should have been on the list. Unless, of course, they set the bar so low that Avatar was included.)

So this year who wins the Best Picture but a movie seemingly designed to do nothing but. I am sure The King’s Speech is a fine movie – but it won mostly because it was a British royalty handicap story. Those accents! The Merchant-Ivory like class factor. A noble, physically attractive handicap!

As good as it undoubtedly is, it isn’t better than TS3 and the collected body of work Pixar has turned out. TS3 like Godfather II, and yes I believe they deserve to be discussed together, was able to be as good as – if not better – than the great original movie. (TS2 was 50% of a great movie and certainly not in a league with the other two. Drop me a line and I’ll explain why.) The depth of character, the incredibly mature story it told, the writing, the storytelling, the acting were all of a quality seldom matched. And it’s nomination was nothing more than tokenism. Feh. A pox on all The Academy’s houses. (And BTW, The Illusionist –  another of this year’s nominees for Best Animated — should also have been a best picture nominee. But that would have meant TWO animated movies on the list and that would never be allowed to happen.)

Toy Story 3 was robbed 

Thanks to The Whatchamacallit and BrokeHoedown for tipping me to the picture above!

News article about the master, Hayao Miyazaki

He discusses his new movie Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea. And the overuse of computers in animation:

“I think animation is something that needs the pencil, needs man’s drawing hand, and that is why I decided to do this work in this way,” the silver haired, notoriously shy director told reporters after a press screening. “Currently computer graphics are of course used a great deal and, as I’ve said before, this use can at times be excessive,” he added, speaking through an interpreter. “I will continue to use my pencil as long as I can.”

I was pleased to be reminded that the great one is only 67 & so there are many more years of his creations yet to come.

Hey Pixar-heads — when is it being released in the US?

SAVE THE TOTORO FOREST!!!

As regular readers know I am slavishly devoted to master animator Hayao Miyazaki and consider his movie My Neighbor Totoro which was released 20 years ago to be one of the greatest films ever made.  Now Sayama Forest, also known as Totor Forest, which inspired Miyazaki to create the movie is the focus of an effort to save it from further destruction by developers.

In artistic terms this wood is the equivalent of Monet’s gardens at Giverny or Arles for van Gogh and Gaugin.

The Totoro Forest Project is the brainchild of Enrico Casarosa and Dice Tsutsumi and has not surprisingly received the enthusiastic support of Pixar.

I quote from Animation Magazine:

Artists from around the world were asked to come up with artwork inspired by the gentle creature depicted in the landmark movie. Over 200 original pieces from internationally acclaimed artists and animators—William Joyce, Andreas Deja, Timothy Lamb, Ronnie del Carmen, Ralph Eggleston, Pete Docter and Peter de Seve, to name a few—are featured in this one-of-a-kind event which tries to answer the question “What is your Totoro?” The auction will be held at Pixar Animation Studio on September 6th. A companion art book, edited by Karen Paik (The Story of Pixar), will also be available at the event. Selected artwork from the Totoro auction will be featured as two special exhibitions at The Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco (Exhibit A: Sept. 26-Dec. 7; Exhibit B: Nov. 6-Feb. 20).

The website is truly awesome: Totoro Forest Project.

Now to figure out how to get to San Francisco.

WALL*E is amazingly good

In no particular order the greatest animated movies I’ve ever seen are:

All of these are among the greatest movies ever made PERIOD.

Add to that list, WALL*E. Even by Pixar’s admittedly high standards, WALL*E is exceptional. If it doesn’t have the characters as complex as some other movies it is because it is a fable. In that respect it has a lot in common with Edward Scissorhands.

WALL*E is tells a fine, simple (not obvious) story superbly. (I’m going to stay away from plot synopsis. Go see it. We’ll talk.) It is essentially a silent movie, a great and bold decision (and something it shares with Triplets). In addition to being a fine filet of consumer culture, W also includes an extended comment on the sterility of life in a controlled environment designed for nothing but amusement. That would be the bread and butter of Pixar’s life-partner Disney. Is this:

  1. a cynical comment by a company that makes its money from these parks; or
  2. a truly subversive effort to sway the people who make The Land of Mouse so profitable?

Not sure. But I do know it’s great.

I could go on but I’m tired and heading off for vacation. See you all in a week.