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Cartoon Culture

Awards Season

Within the last few days, many of the Hollywood award associations and motion picture critics have selected their best-of picks for 2009. It’s been an incredible year for animated features and that’s being reflected in their selections. The most amazing of all was Time Magazine’s Richard Corliss selecting animated features as the top three of his Top Ten: 1. The Princess and The Frog 2. Up and 3. The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

The Golden Globe nominees were announced yesterday. They nominated Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and the Frog and Up For Best Animated Feature. They also nominated Michael Giacchino for Best Score (UP).

NY Film Critics selected George Clooney as Best Actor for his performances in both Up in the Air and Fantastic Mr. Fox. They also handed the award for Best Animated Feature to Fantastic Mr. Fox.

The American Film Institute announced its official selection for the 10th annual AFI Awards. Their list included Coraline and Up.

Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. gave its Best Animated Feature award to Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, and its runner-up prize to Disney/Pixar’s Up

The San Francisco Film Critics Circle gave its first ever award for animated feature. It went to Henry Selick’s Coraline. Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach won best adapted screenplay for Fantastic Mr. Fox.

The African-American Film Critics Assn. granted their screenplay award to two winners: the live action Precious, adapted by Geoffrey Fletcher and The Princess and the Frog, scripted by Ron Clements, Rob Edwards and John Musker.

The Southeastern Film Critics Assn. and the Boston Society of Film Critics both voted UP as Best Animated Feature.

  • TK

    Not enough love for Coraline! Come on you people!

  • Chris J.

    I’m not disputing that UP’s score was wonderful, but did anyone else find the “hero” cue to be almost identical to Ratatouille’s? Sorry if it’s been mentioned before.

  • I’m happy that the Fantastic Mr. Fox is doing well critically, I think it was a good way of merging the people who wouldn’t normally go see an animated feature, and animation enthusiasts, perhaps it has something to do with the Wes Anderson label? eh?

  • Paul B

    TK I liked many of that list but Coraline stands victorious due to the beautiful atmosphere which I missed so much from films that don’t balance light and dark tones. The characters and sets made it a champion for creativity without aiming for an audience’s expectations.

    Princess and the Frog is delayed till February like most animated Disney/Pixar animations (UK)

    Fox I wasn’t interested… though happy it used stop-motion.

    Up was better than WALL-E… far better. Though both looked beautiful; this one actually made me appreciate the balanced story.

    Being a huge fan of “Clone High” TV series Cloudy was just as hilarious; which… I was worried that the different audience target would damage the humour. The story was hit and miss but it played out very well.

    Coraline -> Cloudy -> Up (though all three stood beyond acceptable)

    Princess and Fox unrated.

  • Scarabim

    Fox’s awards are ALL about Wes Anderson. And the fact that awards committees are sheep who follow the lead of people they imagine have better taste than they do. “Up” was overrated, not Pixar’s best by a long shot. “Fox” is an eyesore. “Coraline” is dark and not terribly appealing to general audiences, which, ironically, appeals to a certain “elite”. When more entertaining movies like “Ponyo”, “Astro Boy” and “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs” are consistently ignored, it’s an indictment of those “experts” who reward quirkiness rather than entertainment value.

  • Most of you people are tasteless buffoons.

  • Al

    Not enough story for Coraline! Come on, Mr. Gaiman!

  • Ethan

    Wow, great vibes for Fantastic Fox ! It’s chances of winning the oscar are getting very real now. (I was hoping Cloudy would get as much love, however)

    “it’s an indictment of those “experts” who reward quirkiness rather than entertainment value.”

    I don’t see awards as having anything to do with entertainment value, it’s about the merit and the advancement of filmmaking. But I could be wrong, you never know how hollywood thinks.

  • Awesome to see Coraline and Up getting so many honors. Although I’d love to see an animated movie break the ranks don’t expect any of these films to get any overall Best Picture nods or even runner-up nods from any of these groups; they’ll probably go to either Up in the Air, Inglorious Basterds (my personal Best Picture pick) or the Hurt Locker (which is pretty good but not as good as its 94 Metacritic score says).

  • Sunday

    Aw, no need to counter elitism with anti-elitist-elitism. There’s a lot of positive things to focus on in all these films. Congrats to all the studios and teams who made 2009 such a banner year!

  • Robert Barker

    Coraline is head and shoulders beyond anything produced this year. And that’s my tasteless, buffoonish opinion.

  • Scott

    Coraline was interesting, but no art in the world can make that weak story better. Up blew me away, as did Mary and Max.

  • Bill Turner

    A lot of opinions for a lot of great animated films this year. In those categories where Fox is up against Up, I believe Fox will win, particularly in the Oscars. These groups like to award their own and Wes Anderson is one of them, just like when Happy Feet won over Cars. At least this year both are equally deserving.

    And in case anyone missed Jerry’s point, Time magazine chose it’s 10 best films of the year, not just animated films. Yet the top three choices were animated! That’s really amazing. Congratulations to all!

  • Rob T.

    Also: The American Film Institute (AFI) included both Coraline and Up in their annual top 10. While the AFI’s top 10 usually includes one animated film (typically a Pixar film, but they’ve also honored Shrek and Happy Feet), I believe this is the first time they’ve included two in one year.

    Also also: Indiewire is currently in the middle of posting their critics poll results. So far Fantastic Mr. Fox is in 7th place, Up is at 11th, Coraline is tied for 36th, Sita Sings the Blues is tied for 44th, and Ponyo is tied for 67th. (By comparison, last year WALL-E came in 3rd and Waltz with Bashir 10th, with no other animated features in the top 100.)

    Also of interest is George Clooney’s placement at 17th for lead performance in Fantastic Mr. Fox (his performances in The Men Who Stare at Goats and Up in the Air are currently tied for 45th); Jason Schwartzman is tied for 17th in supporting performances, same movie. Wes Anderson and Nina Paley have gotten two and one votes respectively for best director, while Anderson and Noah Baumbach have gotten three votes (putting them in 4th place) for the Mr. Foxscreenplay. All results tentative; Indiewire is updating the results as votes come in.

  • Nick

    Honestly i liked fantastic mr. fox but i thought secret of kells had more heart and was miles away more beautiful than fox.

  • Ethan

    Happy Feet was from an Australian vfx studio, from a director/writer who openly said he hated hollywood, hardly one of them.

  • Spike

    Why is it that Pixar films are the most popular animated films everywhere but on animation blogs, where people always seem to prefer everything else?

  • Mary and Max by Adam Elliot got totally screwed. Gorgeous stop motion animation with an incredible script and excellent voice work by Philip Seymour Hoffman. COME ON PEOPLE!

  • Really, I never thought for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs to be a contender to win awards. Maybe one or two, but not to where it would win Best Animated Feature. And I’m not saying that due to political reasons…the other movies are just more memorable.

    It’s good to see Fantastic Mr. Fox doing well in the awards arena, it was a nice story to watch with the animation. At the same time, Up and Coraline provides serious competition. It’s been a long while since we had serious contenders to where anyone is able to win. Makes it more spontaneous and exciting! Hopefully Coraline will be able to pick up something, as well as Up. I’m sure Princess and the Frog will pick up an award or two for character design and voice acting at the Annies. In my opinion.

  • Tedzey

    I felt that up or fantastic mr. fox had a chance for best picture award, but from the looks of the golden globe nomination announcement it won’t be happening at the oscars :(

  • Riza Gilderstern

    Ha I totally called all of these! I’m pretty sure these will be the contender for the Oscars too. Makes for an interesting year. And it’s such a pain to hear people whine about Fox getting in on Andersen’s clout. It was an enjoyable movie, so was cloudy which also wonderful, and it didn’t need to try to make kids cry to make it so. I’m glad this year isn’t completely Pixar dominated as well.

  • Grey

    I think George Miller (Happy Feet) is still considered “one of them,” because he’s a live-action director who slummed in animation (as critics likely think – personally I consider animation at least equal to live-action, if not an even higher art form).

    And Happy Feet and Fantastic Mr. Fox both share that live-action sensibilities that the average critic puts more weight to than their more inventive and more creative counterparts.

    Personally I loved Up and Coraline and enjoy seeing them do well, but I also loved Mary and Max and I adored The Secret of Kells. I would like to see a lot more awards, lists and nominations for both of those films.

  • This is the best year for theatrical animation in my adult life, full stop. I can’t believe how lucky I am.

    Coraline is my favorite so far, but Up, Cloudy, Fox, and Ponyo were all incredibly wonderful and each showed the kind of imagination, whimsy, and cleverness that was absent in almost every major live-action film.

  • Andrew Kieswetter

    It’s sad there’s not enough love for Ponyo. I still think it’ll get a Best Animated Feature Oscar nomination. But its great to see Richard Corliss have Princess & Frog,Fantastic Mr. Fox and Up as the top 3 movies in his Best of 2009 list.
    Question: was Bolt in any ‘Top Ten’ lists last year?

  • Cameron

    As happy as I am that animation’s coming around, I’m rather disappointed that my two favorite animated pictures this year (The Secret of Kells and Ponyo) are being absolutely spurned.

    We’ve made a big step up, but the focus on purely American films is woeful. Especially considering I’ve yet to see a release date for Mai Mai Miracle or Summer Wars, as well as the utter ignorance of Evangelion 1.0 or Mary & Max.

    In a perfect world, The Secret of Kells would sweep the Annies. That’s what I think.

  • Brad

    This was a GREAT year for animation, and personally I think “Princess and the Frog” was out-shined by many funnier, quirkier films like “Fantasic Mr. Fox”, “Coraline”, “Sita Sings the Blues”, “My Dog Skip”, and “Mary and Max”. It’s disappointing to see it #1 on many lists because it seems like the obvious choice. But I’ve always felt the Oscars are more about politics than film making quality, and are therefore relatively meaningless. I’m just happy I got to see so many great animated features this year.

  • Scarabim

    I hear you, Cameron. In my perfect world, “Astro Boy” would sweep the Annies. The overrated “Fox” and “Coraline” would be left out in the cold.

  • Ethan

    Ok thank you Grey, I guess didn’t understand correctly where the “us versus them” dichotomy was coming from.

    No wonder animation films have such a hard time getting out of their microcosm of “animation as a genre”. George Miller started an animation studio in Australia. Bill, how many animated films will he need to have directed, to be considered one of us ? (or more precisely one of yours, as I’m technically one of them)

    It seems the above dichotomy is more about circles of friends than anything else. Pot, kettle, black.

  • Bill Turner

    George Miller (and Wes Anderson for that matter) will have to make more than one to be considered one of “us”. But I’m speculating on the judgement of Academy members, not for myself. I will be only slightly disappointed if Fox wins best animated feature. It is certainly deserving. It should win best adapted screenplay.

    You are correct that the animation community and live action film makers see themselves as two seperate entities, and they (we) should not.

  • Put in another person hoping for a Coraline win. Second to that I’d take Mr. Fox, but I’m not into the Wes Anderson self indulgent filmmaking. Anderson didn’t really break new ground either way. Coraline has the best craftsmanship out of all the movies nominated in my opinion, as well as the best atmosphere and story tone. Not enough movies like that.

    If Up wins, since Pixar is the award’s darling, I will lose more hope in the US animation industry. Most Pixar movies are not average by a long shot, but Up just became terribly mediocre after the first 15 minutes. More often than not, I’m rooting for the Pixar movie just because of the ridiculous amount of other crap on the usual nominations.

    Definitely Up is not deserving of anything beyond a DVD release. I know Up got crazy good ratings, but critics tend to be dittoheads and no common audience would trust a critic who dared give a Pixar movie a bad review, because they are the best animation studio in the world, right? Or so they say.

    I agree with many posters here, it was a great year for animation, especially of a variety of styles. And as other posters said, it’s sad to see the Academy again ignoring many smaller well animated films either through import or small limited runs.

    One thing though, why does both Princess and the Frog and Up both get to be nominated? Surely even though Pixar and Disney are operated in different manners and are comprised of separate teams, that at the end of the day, it should be obvious that they are both Disney companies. What if Disney started releasing feature animated films through Nelvana, would Disney get three nominations?

  • Inkan1969

    No love for “Ponyo”? :-(

  • KNSat

    Hmmm. I wonder if some of the posters here could not get their foot in the door at Pixar…

  • gene schiller

    No contest: Ponyo & A Christmas Carol.

  • I so knew Up would get the nom for best score Hopefully the Oscars recognize my favorite score in recent memory