Who? Who will win the Oscar this year, at the 85th Academy Awards? Hey Krishna? The Mystical Laws? Walter & Tandoori’s Christmas?
Maybe – or maybe Pixar’s Brave, Sony’s Hotel Transylvania, or Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph will be among the final nominees. Today, the Academy announced the twenty-one features which have been submitted for consideration in the Animated Feature Film category. Five will be selected for nomination.
Listed in alphabetical order by title (click on highlighted title to see trailer), they are:
Several of the films listed have not yet had their required Los Angeles qualifying runs. Submitted features must fulfill the theatrical release requirements and comply with all of the category’s other qualifying rules before they can advance in the voting process. The nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 10th, 2013, at 8:30am EST/5:30am PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. The winners will be announced on Sunday, February 24th, 2013.
After several months of monster/horror animated features, it feels down-right refreshing to see a simply funny new “cartoon” from Disney. Wreck-It Ralph (along with the innovative cg/hand drawn hybrid short Paperman) opens today – and just in time.
I dare say, between Tangled and Ralph, the Disney Feature team has found their footing – and personally I was much more satisfied with this high-concept comedy than I was with Pixar’s most-recent original. Could this be the year Disney’s SoCal home-team beats its upstate sibling? Wreck-It Ralph is executed with as much entertainment and humor, visually and verbally – and a healthy dose of “Disney magic” – as one could expect. It has an obvious appeal to adults, and even more so to kids, which bodes well for its box office results.
I’m not the only one to feel this way. A.O. Scott in The New York Times calls Ralph a big “success”, managing “to be touching as well as silly, thrilling and just a bit exhausting”. Betsy Sharky in The Los Angeles Times says, “the movie’s subversive sensibility and old-school/new-school feel are a total kick”.
“Old-school/new-school” might also describe John Kahrs sublime new short Paperman, which is attached to all showings of Wreck-It Ralph. We’ve been anticipating this short for several months and it plays like icing on the cake. A sumptuous boy-meets-girl story told in an exciting new/retro way – crossing my fingers this begins a transition back to the hand drawn craft of animation, in the classic Disney tradition, at the Disney studio.
So, what about you? If you’ve seen Wreck-It Ralph and/or Paperman, let’s have the discussion. Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.
To recap: this season has already brought two must-have books – J.B. Kaufman’s Snow White history, The Fairest One Of All and Charles Solomon’s lavishly illustrated survey of Charlie Brown animation, The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation. But the season isn’t over and I’ve received four more eagerly anticipated hardcovers – each one strongly recommended and worth every cent of their suggested retail price.
First up, “I Say, I Say… Son! A Tribute To legendary Animators Bob, Chuck and Tom McKimson by Roberet McKimson Jr., with a forward by John Kricfalusi and an introduction by Darrell Van Citters. Wow! This is a surprise and a real treat. Poor Robert McKimson never got the attention and adoration his fellow directors Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng did. Thankfully, his champions have created this celebration of of all things McKimson – and that includes the incredible contributions of his siblings, Charles and Tom, who all together contributed more to the look and feel of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies than almost anyone else.
Robert McKimson’s son has put together a delicious volume of art and history that’s way overdue. John K. starts it off with a great seven-page Foreword explaining his admiration for the McKimson brothers work (images in this section include an original John K. drawing of Foghorn Leghorn meeting Stimpy!); and Darrel Van Citters does likewise in his informative intro. The meat of the book is the incredible art and photos that follow from the McKimson family estate. Bob Jr’s text takes us from his fathers earliest experiences at Disney and the Romer Grey studio to the earliest days at Harman-Ising. Absolutely gorgeous pencil art of Bosko (from Schlesinger) and Binko (from Romer Grey) highlight this section. Rare paintings, staff photos, the U.S. copyright registration for Bugs Bunny (!), model sheets, layout sketches, coloring book art… incredible stuff. A chapter on Tom McKimson’s work at Western Publishing and Bob’s later career at UPA, DePatie Freleng and back at Warners in 1969 tie up any and all loose ends. A thorough, competent, visually delightful job – exactly what you’d expect from someone named McKimson. Bravo, I love it!
What can I say? Gerstein and Groth do it again. For the 4th time, Floyd Gottfredson’s incredible (and incredibly rare) 1930s Mickey Mouse adventure strip is collected with much care and great thought. The fact these were never reprinted before is criminal – the way they have been presented here more than makes up for it. The comics strips are compiled from the highest quality reprint masters and the daily strips themselves are truly classic material – worthy of a more prominent place in the Disney canon. As usual, Gerstein’s “bonus materials” – the liner notes, essays and special features – that appear at the beginning and end of the book represent Disney scholarship at its highest level.
This time Gerstein (along with colleagues Tom Andrae, Carson Van Osten and Thad Komorowski) provide insight into Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and such supporting players as Oscar the Ostrich and Dr. Einmug, rare artwork from international merchandise, publicity images and lost storyboards from from the Disney Animation Research Library. This series is a keeper. If you’ve got the first three volumes, you know the score. If not, maybe this video (below) will convince you. It’s terrific!
Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal by Karen Falk, is not devoted to animation (though Muppet Babies is given a nice spread), but to Henson’s Muppet legacy – and that cannot be ignored. Henson’s films, shows and all-over creativity are an inspiration to all who create frame-by-frame cartoons and this book is an incredible peek inside his mind. This book is based around Henson’s personal handwritten journal and materials from his archives – a scrapbook of Muppet history that I’m grateful the family has deemed to share. Beyond the Muppets, the book contains rare memorabilia and information on Henson’s experimental shorts and TV specials (some of which I’d never heard of), TV pilots, The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, commercials and industrial shorts – everything he did is noted one way or another with rare photos, script pages, publicity photos and other incredible ephemera. If you like Muppets or have any interest in Henson, it’s a must. Get it.
Usually I recommend these “Art of” books because – let’s face it – even if the movie is no-good, the pre-vis and character designs are usually fantastic. Wreck-It Ralph is not only a great little film, but the artwork is especially fun. Director Rich Moore assembled a hand-picked crew of cartoonists to inspire the look of the film and they did not fail. No wonder the stuff on the screen looks so good – the preliminary art pictured here shows he had a lot of quality to choose from. Mike Gabriel, Jin Kim, Bill Schwab, Lorelay Bove, Glen Keane, and Minkyu Lee are just a few of the artists supplying the eye candy here, providing the appropriate “sugar rush” you require. This is a good one.
Word has reached us that stop-motion animator Dave Borthwick, one of the founders of The Bolex Brothers (with partner Dave Alex Riddett), passed away this past week in Bristol England. His health had been failing for a while and he finally succumbed to pneumonia.
He was the creator and director of The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb (pictured above, with actor Nick Upton) and was currently in production on a feature-length clay-animated adaptation of Gilbert Shelton’s underground comix classic The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers (as Grass Roots – see clip below). Borthwick animated many commercials in the U.K. and co-directed the feature Sprung! The Magic Roundabout (AKA in the US, Doogal).
I hope this brings some sunshine to our readers on the rain-soaked east coast.
Michael Patterson and Candace Reckinger, who created some of the most iconic music videos using animation ever – including A-Ha’s Take On Me, Suzanne Vega’s Luka and Paula Abdul’s Opposites Attract (with MC Skat Kat) – created this beautiful new piece for musician/composer Jeff Lynne, based on Lynne’s 1977 ELO track Mr. Blue Sky.
Patterson and Reckinger, both now teaching animation at USC, were approached by Lynne, whom they worked with on a previous project, to create the video as a collaboration with their students.
In case you were wondering whatever happened to the idea of animated shorts in movie theaters before the main feature: they still exist as two-minute (or less) trailers. Here’s the latest “Minions” short promoting the release of Despicable Me 2, directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, opening in theaters on July 3, 2013.
Heart presents “questions through abstract metaphors and symbols, illustrated by the human heart”, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the design and admiring the craft. Erick Oh, the director of How to Eat Your Apple, is a Korean animation artist based in California, currently at Pixar. His independent films have been screened at Annecy, Hiroshima, Zagreb, SIGGRAPH and Anima Mundi. .
Happy Halloween! Ringo – or The Story of a Couple who Tried to Revitalize Their Relationship but Instead Ruined a Child by M.R. Horhager (Extreme Nuts) is a dark, disturbing little fable; a perfect treat for this holiday night.
Eight years ago, I wrote about a remarkable-looking Korean animated feature I’d seen that, to this day, hasn’t been officially released in the US: Wonderful Days (aka Sky Blue). The film is an visually dazzling, action packed sci-fi thriller, beautifully realized by its director Kim Moon Saeng.
Next Sunday, Nov. 4th at USC, director Kim, animator Peter Chung and animator/director/historian Tom Sito will screen the film at the Ray Stark Theatre on campus and then discuss its production, the Korean animation industry and independent feature production on a panel immediately following. The screening starts at 2pm, the Q&A at 4pm, with a reception at 5:30pm. This event is free and open to all. For more information, click here.
I’ll be posting a Holiday Gift Guide next month, but one book leapt out of the pack and I want to give you the heads-up right now. I just received a copy of Charles Solomon’s The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation (Chronicle Books) and found it a wonderful surprise.
Not only a visual delight – original cels, backgrounds, storyboards, animation drawings, Schulz model sheets and scripts, behind the scenes photos, television station publicity materials – but Solomon’s text is goes deep into the making of these landmark specials (and theatrical features) with new information and interviews with noted participants, including Lee Mendelsohn, Phil Roman, the late Bill Melendez and Bill Littlejohn – and many others including the voice actors. The text is loaded with great inside information and I particularly appreciated how Solomon tied the influences of UPA and earlier animation to the Peanuts shows – and how these Charlie Brown specials have influenced important directors and creators of animation working today.
The bottom line: the book is great fun and highly informative. I never thought a book about Peanuts specials could be so enlightening and entertaining. Bravo, Mr. Solomon, the Schulz estate and the editor/designers at Chronicle for a job well done. You’ve done Mr. Schulz and Mr. Brown proud. The book goes on sale Nov. 14th.
In conjunction with the publication of this book, the Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa California is hosting an exhibition of rare animation art over this holiday season. Don’t miss an appearance and panel with Producer Lee Mendelsohn and author Charles Solomon on Saturday December 1st to discuss the films. Here’s the Museum’s Press release:
The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center is highlighting the artifacts that made this possible with an exhibition featuring 16 original never-before-displayed Peanuts animation drawings and cels, including five cels rescued from Schulz’s 1966 studio fire.
The Art of Peanuts Animation: Production Cels from the Museum’s Collection runs now through Sunday, February 3, 2013. Timed to coincide with the November 7, 2012 launch of the new Chronicle book The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation by Charles Solomon, this exhibit includes rare original production cels from animated Peanuts classics: A Charlie Brown Christmas; It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Visitors will also see cels from numerous other animated specials from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, and view selected full-length animated specials in the Museum’s theater.
Rare Cels Survive Fire at Schulz’s Studio
Several of the animation cels in the Museum’s collection survived a fire at Schulz’s Coffee Grounds Studio in 1966. These original cels from the animated television specials It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas were donated to the Museum by a childhood friend of Schulz’s son, Craig, who recovered the cels from the studio after the fire.
Saturday, December 1 at 1:00 pm
Join Lee Mendelson, executive producer of the classic Peanuts animated specials, and Charles Solomon, internationally respected animation historian and author of the new Chronicle book The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation, as they talk about the making of Peanuts animated specials.
ABOUT THE CHARLES M. SCHULZ MUSEUM AND RESEARCH CENTER
The Charles M.SchulzMuseum opened in August 2002 to fulfill its mission of preserving, displaying, and interpreting the art of Charles M. Schulz. The museum carries out this mission through changing exhibitions and programming that: build an understanding of cartoonists andcartoon art; illustrate the scope of Schulz’s multi-faceted career; communicate the stories, inspirations and influences of Charles Schulz; and celebrate the life of Charles Schulz and the Peanuts characters.
The Charles M. Schulz Museum is located 50 minutes north of San Francisco by car on Highway 101. The Museum is located at 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa, California, 95403.
Weekdays Monday thru Friday (except Tuesdays*) 11am – 5pm
Saturday & Sunday 10am – 5pm
*Open every day throughout the summer (Memorial Day through Labor Day)
Free – Museum Members, Children 3 and under
$5.00 – Children 4-18, college students with valid I.D. card, and Seniors 62+
$10.00 – Adults
Charles M. Schulz Museum & Research Center • 2301 Hardies Lane Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Here’s a trio of original cels in the book – and now on display at the Schulz Museum (click to enlarge):
No, not Disney’s Frozen – This is the Russian version of The Snow Queen, of which we posted a teaser from back in February. Here’s the latest “official trailer” for the film, this one playing up the “comedy” elements.
The Snow Queen will be released in Stereoscopic 3D and was produced on a budget of $7 million (US$). Moscow’s Wizart Animation is the producer/production company. More information and artwork can be found on the official Snow Queen web site.
It’s a hybrid of the handmade stuff I usually do and the computer stuff I’ve been getting into more recently. Basically I photographed handmade characters and many fabric textures and then put everything back together in the computer. About 80% of this project was done in After Effects with a little bit of Illustrator and Photoshop work along the way….and a ton of rendering at the end.
Animation concept artist and Disney Legend, Tyrus Wong is celebrating his 102nd birthday this week (though his actual birthday was yesterday Oct. 25th). You can send Tyrus a birthday greeting yourself here or better yet, on the Facebook page set up to support Pamela Tom’s feature length documentary (currently in post production). Alice Davis (Marc’s widow), animator Tony Anselmo and Minnie Mouse voice Russi Taylor have left video greetings om the page.
Tom’s film, Tyrus Wong:Brushstrokes in Hollywood is the first in-depth portrait that “explores the life and art of 101-year old pioneering Chinese American painter, muralist, lithographer, kite builder, and Disney Legend”. According to her website:
The movie shares Tyrus’s remarkable journey as one of the very first Chinese Americans to make a living in art and film during the earliest days of moviemaking. Despite numerous obstacles, like the Exclusion Laws and rampant racism, audiences will witness Tyrus’s long, illustrious, and diverse career, including his ground-breaking work at Disney on the classic film Bambi, and his nearly 30 years at Warner Bros. and other studios creating the look for dozens of notable classic movies with some of the most famous directors in Hollywood’s Golden Era. The film includes interviews with John Canemaker, Don Hahn, Andreas Deja, Eric Goldberg, Paul Felix, Charles Solomon and Alice Davis and appearances by Marc Davis and Frank Thomas.
While the film tells the story of an exceptional artist and inspiring individual, it also sheds light on the dramatic and untold story of the Chinese American experience in the 20th century. The film includes a powerful scene in which Tyrus visits the Angel Island Immigration Station in the San Francisco bay, where he first arrived and was detained in 1910.
I wish her success in bringing this story to the screen. In the meantime – Happy Birthday Tyrus Wong!
(Note: Wong will be appearing in person to discuss his career at the CTN Expo in Burbank California next month. More details here).
If you’ve been wondering what Genndy Tartakovsky’s been doing this past summer besides hitting the road to promote Hotel Transylvania and prepping to direct a CG Popeye – wonder no longer. Tartakovsky wrote, directed and animated himself a brand new hand-drawn HT companion short entitled Goodnight Mr. Foot – in all of four weeks.
And now the short is getting an exclusive theatrical run starting tomorrow in Regal theaters nationwide before showings of Hotel Trasnsylvania, as a special Halloween treat for Holiday audiences. From the Sony Animation Press release:
Entitled “Goodnight, Mr. Foot,” the short stars none other than the legendary monster Bigfoot, and follows his adventure as he, too, checks in to Dracula’s five-stake resort in search of a little R-and-R, only to find himself faced with an enthusiastic witch-maid, eager to make Mr. Foot’s stay a memorable one.
Genndy Tartakovsky commented, “After we finished HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA I got an itch to animate! Taking inspiration from my favorite directors Bob Clampett, Tex Avery, and Chuck Jones I animated a short cartoon in the traditional 2D style. It was difficult and exhilarating all at once and I hope people will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it.”
To commemorate the debut of the animated short, an exclusive new collectible one-sheet—designed by Tartakovsky himself—will also be given away at all showings of HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA in Carmike Cinemas nationwide from October 26 (while supplies last).
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA fans surfing the internet might just keep any eye out (not literally!) for a specially-created promo video popping up some time around October 31 (date TBD).
I can’t wait to see it. Here are two images the studio released from the film: