Oscars Lowdown 2014: Best Animated Short - Does the Disney double start here?
In the lead-up to the 86th annual Academy Awards on March 2, HitFix will be bringing you the lowdown on all 24 Oscar categories with multiple entries each day. Take a few notes and bone up on the competition as we give you the edge in your office Oscar pool!
Best Animated Feature, like the other short categories, used to be something of a crapshoot in prediction terms -- you'd watch all the nominees and imagine how the majority of voters might spontaneously respond to each one, with hit-and-miss results. Now things have changed slightly: with voters no longer required to prove they've seen all the nominees, the profile of each contender now counts for more than it should -- and with Disney the reigning champ in the category, we're about to see if a corporation-friendly pattern is being set.
The nominees are...
"Feral" (Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden)
Before the rule change, I might have put my money on "Feral" in this category as the most artistically striking and thematically substantial of the nominees -- it's the only film here with much of an emotional kick, and if enough voters do their homework and view it, that could make it something of a spoiler in the race. Sousa competed in the short film category at Sundance last year for this exquisitely designed, dialogue-free tale of a young boy, reared in the wild, unhappily introduced to human society; he also won three awards, including the FIPRESCI critics' prize, at the prestigious Annecy animation fest. Visually, it's a distinctive piece, making sophisticated use of old-school animation techniques, while Sousa's stylized, monochrome-pastel imagery seamlessly blends reality and fantasy. It gets my vote easily.
"Get a Horse!" (Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim)
Disney broke a decades-long dry spell in this category last year with "Paperman," and they enter the race once more as heavy favorites with what is easily the most widely-seen nominee in the category -- thanks to its attachment in theaters to Animated Feature shoo-in "Frozen." Under the new voting roles, it could scoop a lot of votes from members who were charmed by it in that context, but haven't necessarily seen all the nominees. The Disney brand, after all, could hardly be stronger than it is in this Mickey Mouse-starring romp, which employs state-of-the-art animation techniques to literally break the fourth wall: contemporary 3D invades the black-and-white world of a 1930s-style cartoon, and all hell breaks loose. Many think it's brilliant; I found it wholly charmless, and couldn't help noting that the 21st-century intervention does little to fix its retrograde sexism. (Minnie's never been more vapid.) But that's by the by: it'll likely make Disney the first studio to claim that Animated Short and Feature awards in the same year.
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
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