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No Way!: Disney Exec on Fantastic Mr. Fox‘s Oscar Chances

Fantastic Mr. Fox

“It’s not even a contest,” was the response an unnamed Disney exec gave the NY Times when asked to comment on Fantastic Mr. Fox‘s Oscar chances against Up. Despite the swagger that some Disney folks apparently have, the Times warns that Disney and Pixar shouldn’t break out the bubbly just yet:

In a mid-December surprise, both the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association named “Fantastic Mr. Fox” the best animated movie of 2009. Similar awards from five other critics’ groups followed.

Fantastic Mr. Fox and Up are both nominated for this weekend’s Golden Globe Award, along with Coraline, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and The Princess and the Frog. Since initiating a Best Animated Feature Film category in 2007, the Golden Globes have given the award to Pixar every year (Cars, Ratatouille, WALL•E). We’ll find out in a few days whether Pixar can make it four-in-a-row at the Globes.

  • Wait, I thought Cars lost to Happy Feet that year? Anyway, I guess being humble and respectful to your competition, any of your competition, is out of fashion now.

  • amid

    Jessica: You’re right, Happy Feet won the Oscar, but Cars won the Golden Globe that year, which is what I’m referring to above.

  • Seems to me that a “breaking out of the bubbly” is in order regardless of the official outcome. . .

  • student

    I don’t think ANY of the nominees stand a chance against UP! I mean, “Princess and the Frog” was great, “Coraline” was awesome, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” was pretty funny and I never saw “Cloudy with Meatballs” but the reviews were good. In the end, they’ll ALL fall victims to UP! The power of PIXAR compels them all.

  • Am I the only one who’s really disappointed about how enthusiastic oscar hype is in favour of Ponyo? It’s hardly been mentioned, it’s just annoying that Disney has 3 films up for nomination and it’d rather push it’s in-house mediocre effort (Princess and the Frog), and give Pixar it’s expected annual pat on the back than give Ponyo its due credit as they were so delighted to do 9 years ago with Spirited Away.

    Fantastic Mr Fox was good, sure, and in a year that was so strong for animation, it’s hard to choose, but despite its wide enough release Ponyo really undeservedly slipped under the radar.

  • Man, I didn’t even especially like Mr Fox but I’d rather see it win anything over Up.

  • Tom

    I loved UP, and I love Pixar, but this year feels like a shakeup to me. I’m thinking Mr. Fox. I loved Coraline, but Mr. Fox was really a unique film for animation. I’d like to see that rewarded.

    We’ve really been treated to some amazing films this year. Whew!

  • Gobo

    This’ll mark the first time I’ll find myself rooting against Pixar. Mr Fox was cussing great and deserves to win.

  • djjuice5

    wow. This clown better remember that it was PIXAR who carried their sorry asses in the box office for the past 15 years. While Disney was on their vanity trip, buying up everything in sight, and more focused on “wheelin’ and dealin’ “, than putting effort in their products and films, Pixar kept raising the bar and was building brand recongition. While Disney was making trash like Home on the Range, G-Force, Chicken Little, and whatever poorly written, generic teenybopper shit they have on the Disney Channel this week, Pixar was winning awards left and right and laughing all the way to the bank. Hell, they’ve gotten so pathetic and making movies that John Lasseter and the Pixar crew had to take over their studio and show them how to make movies again.

  • Peter

    My vote would go to Coraline, which was both unique and excellent.

    Up had its moments, but didn’t hold together for me nearly as well as, say, The Incredibles or Ratatouille.

    Fantastic Mr. Fox was Wes Anderson’s live action direction translated to animation, which is utterly charming for us Wes Anderson fans (and I’ll probably buy the DVD), but rather stilted. I like John K. comparing the character designs to furries ….

    Coraline was strong on pretty much every front. The story was tight (though I disagree with the addition of the neighbour boy), the aesthetic was distinctive, the use of 3-D was made integral and beautiful and all of the voices worked without drawing undue attention to themselves.

  • Man, I liked Up, but it was only my 5th favorite animated film this year. (Behind Princess and the Frog, Ponyo, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Coraline.)

    Pixar is great and all but there’s been so many other great films this year let one of them get an award for a change!

  • Fantastic Mr. Fox was good, it was NOT the best animated film of the year. Up was great but I would also take into account that Up had a 100 mil backing it up to give the writers and artists all the time they wanted. When you look at smaller films like Kells, Ponyo and even Coraline. I say all three of those films had more heart and soul with less money than Fox and Up who had more money. Grant it Up had probably the single most poignant 5 min. in film history, but still there is a point when you do have to ask; could a film with a 10 million dollar budget have the time and resources to do what a film with a 100 million dollar budget can do? I believe that this is an important factor to consider when voting for awards. And I have to say these smaller films gave these bigger films a huge run for their money. Of course the impotent, dim-witted, old cooks at the Academy couldn’t give a damn. They’re too mesmerized by the pretty colors.

    I also don’t care for the fact that Wes Anderson in all of his interviews talks about how little respect he has for animation.

  • I’m sorry I don’t care how good Fox or Up is, that’s a really unsporting thing to say. The people who worked on Fox worked just as hard as the people on Up did. I’ve seen both films and I enjoyed both for very different reasons. I’d say Fox has as much chance of winning as Triplets of Belleville did against Nemo.

  • Andy

    Fantastic Mr. Fox deserves the Oscar.

  • Chris S

    What a year for stop-motion, and animation as a whole. So many good features were made that it is really hard to pick one over the other. Even execs are excited; like their hearts just grew three times larger after realizing Christmas is not just about gifts and presents. Though, I’m totally biased for American-made stop-motion films, so Coraline all the way!! That film totally blew me away.

    djjuice5, do you really think Disney OWES Pixar biased favoritism? Isn’t kind of refreshing that someone up top is supportive of a film he doesn’t have a hand in? And you forgot to mention Princess and the Frog; shouldn’t you add that to your angry Disney-Makes-Nothing-But-Poo List?

  • Chris S

    Perhaps I misinterpreted the original post….oops. So, the opposite about my previous comment, but I’m still all for Coraline!

  • mrscriblam

    it was a really really good year for animation

    i think its safe to say that its anyones game

  • Bugs Jetstone

    Was I the only person who was really disappointed with The Frog Princess? I was glad, very glad, to see 2D animation again from Disney, but that movie missed on almost every level for me. For my 2D two cents, Ponyo looked like a magical achievement in every way, while Frog Princess had the feeling of having been done on the cheap. Anyone else?

    It’s an UP/Coraline/Fox/Ponyo kind of a year.

  • Robert Barker

    Coraline, period.

  • optimist

    Look people, we have no idea who the Times reporter got on the phone to make that remark. I’d bet it’s not Lasseter or Iger speaking here but some 2nd VP of marketing. No way is that employee going to say something “gracious” about another company’s competing product come awards time. Are you kidding? Anyone have a clue how Hollywood works?

    And I totally don’t get the guy’s rant abover about “Pixar carrying Disney’s ass etc”–you DO relaize that Disney OWNS Pixar, and that imho the unnamed Disney exec was crowing about a supposed “we can’t lose” situation where BOTH “Up” and Frog are nominated? Repeat: Disney OWNS Pixar. Pixar films are paid for and go on to make money FOR DISNEY. They are NOT perceived as competition for anything else Disney makes but as a complement to it.

  • Ethan

    What I find disturbing is that all news sources find it “surprising” that Pixar doesn’t win, and many haven’t even seen Fantastic Fox. They already decided that UP should win because of the lobbying from big budget productions. Few actually form their own opinion anymore. When Pixar uses primarily the Rotten Tomatoes to convince the voters, you know there’s something terribly wrong with the “business” of awards. It’s even more disturbing when you realise these voters are casting their votes without having seen all the nominees, or even ask their wife or their assistant to cast the vote for them because they are too busy.

    What it does show, is the importance of the lobbying, the booklets with RT reviews… and the over-salted popcorn. Yep. A branded bag of popcorn, via international priority mail, to convince you to vote for a film. Not a screener dvd, a bag of popcorn.

    I’m still very glad to see Fox having a chance at the oscars, it’s by far my favorite film of the year. But we attribute too much credit to “awards”, we should remember awards are business.

  • TheGunheart

    I find it funny that John K. would pull the “furry” card when his most famous cartoons starred a mouse superhero, and dog and a cat…

  • TV’s Kyle

    Regardless of who wins, it’s Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs that I’ll be gleefully watching on an endless loop.

  • All this is proving is that 2009 was an unusually strong year for animated features.

  • Not a surprising comment from the Mouse, really.

    I’m pro-Coraline anyway.

  • Man, like the best year for animated movies ever. At least five I thought were super good.

    My favorite this year was PONYO, with CORALINE right behind. I’d put UP fifth, maybe.

  • djjuice5

    To Optomist:

    I am full aware Disney bought Pixar in 2006, the only smart purchase that they made while on their vanity trip. That’s the only reason the studio is putting out decent films right now. They no longer have what it takes to put out a decent animated film on their own so they have to have the Pixar crew do it for them. Princess and the frog was not a bad film by any means but for the amount of hype they put into it I was expecting something great and it was only average. And in the typical one step forward, three steps backwards approach from Disney the next 2D film they’ll release will be on a dated franchise they’ve milked to death for twenty years. Way to get people to care about a Disney original film again. I’ve stopped watching disney movies ever since wasting my money on that dreck Chicken Little. Disney doesn’t really deserve to have a studio like Pixar but I’ll watch pixar films regardless. And your fooling yourself if you think the 2011 winnie the pooh film will be the next Lion King. Unless you think John Lasseter will let a Disney film surpass a Pixar film.

  • Justin

    If Fox does win, hopefully they do another acceptance speech like the one here:

  • I like all the nominees (at the Golden Globes and Annies) for their respective Best Picture categories. I don’t know who I want to win, because 2009 without question has too many great animated films to pick out from.

  • Kyle

    I’m a big Pixar fan, Pete Docter especially (Monsters Inc. is their best film by far), but I hope Fantastic Mr. Fox wins. It was full of artistry, craftsmanship, heart, Roald Dahl, Wes Anderson, old school stop motion, careful research, unique voice recording, and quirky goodness. I really enjoyed Coraline, but it was overly clean. It was too antiseptic for a stop motion movie.

  • Ben

    Fantastic Mr. Fox was simply a thoroughly enjoyable movie. I’m glad I made the trek out last week to see it at the only theater near me that was still playing it.

  • Brenda

    I agree with Ethan above.

    Even though i’ve been discussing with my best friend, that i’d rather see UP taking the Oscar even if i loved all of the nominated movies (except Mr.Fox, cause i haven’t seen it yet), It’s a really rude thing to say from a fellow animator!
    Yes. UP was great, but so are all of the other films. They should not be so unrespectful nor too sure of themselves.

    I’m still cheering for UP, kinda, but i wouldn’t mind that much if another movie took the Oscar -specially Coraline-. All of the nominees are great!

  • Andrew Kieswetter

    While Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs is a fun movie,I think Ponyo
    should be nominated for a Golden Globe. Here’s hoping the 5 nominees for the Best Animated Feature Oscar are the following films;
    Coraline,Fantastic Mr.Fox,Ponyo,Princess & the Frog,and Up. I enjoyed them all.

  • Pavlovich

    Coraline would be my first pick, but Ponyo and Mr Fox were also so great that it is hard to split them. Up is a nice movie too but for me it didn’t have the innovation that the first three films in my comment did.
    And why the hell is Princess and the Frog even mentioned??? I liked particular scenes yet the movie as a whole just couldn’t grab me.

  • In general, I’m not a huge stop-motion fan. I like the graphic line quality of hand drawn films like Disney’s Jungle Book, and the fine lighting of Pixar films like Ratatouille. However, when I saw Mr. Fox I felt like a little kid lost inside a puppet show, totally absorbed in the fuzzy, growling, breast-coated environment Fox lives in – Grrrrrrr! The storytelling stood out in great respect.

  • Blasko

    Ugh. Up is certainly one of Pixar’s poorest features, and the absence of Joe Ranft is really starting to show. Yes, my heartstrings were tugged hard in the film’s first 15 minutes, but the rest of the film is a muddled misadventure that is only occasionally redeemed by a brilliantly animated giant bird. *Spoiler* Plus, you have to love the ethos of a feature that gives parachutes to the pups but sends the human lead plummeting to his death. Up wins the Oscar? Disney execs: the truth is that Up isn’t even as good as Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs or Shane Acker’s 9

  • Blasko

    Sorry folks. Too much of what I put above comes from being cranky. I’m a bit tired of Pixar’s formula, and I’m afraid that Pixar films are getting an automatic pass for “classic” status when the output in the last few years has been a bit mediocre. Coraline was the best animated film I saw last year. Fantastic Mr. Fox was right up there. 2009 was a brilliant year for diverse media, storytelling and tone in animation. I just hate to see Up and Pixar get the accolades that really belong to so many other artists and studios. The quote from this unnamed source just really got to me, I guess.

  • Amber

    Those last two comments above by Blasko hit the nail right on the head. Cranky or not, I agree word for word.

  • Pedro Nakama

    And the reason why he says “No way” is because studio executives are now Academy members. So the “Arts and Sciences” thing is awash and it’s now studio management voting for everything.

  • For the most part, Blasko, I agree -except “Coraline” was just as narratively abysmal as “Up” and the characters lacked any insight into how humans really behave and “9” was even worse.

    Those three films all failed to tell cohesive stories.

    The other two pictures you mention: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Fantastic Mr. Fox have near water-tight scripts.

  • TheGunheart

    I also found Up to be surprisingly weak. I frankly found the whole opening montage ruined by the fact that Carl actually was able to buy tickets.

    Fantastic Mr. Fox was easily my favorite animated movie this year, and possibly this decade.

  • yude

    O’connor, you have to be kidding that Cloudy has a water tight script?

    tight enough to retain water perhaps but not tight enough to retain viewer interest. Cleaning the oven started to sound pretty appealing at about 45 minute mark…

    Story aside there was no restraint in shown with the color pallet or animation style. Everything was just dialed up to 10 for TOTALLY EXTREME ENTERTAINMENT!

    Mr Fox should win this year.

  • Ethan

    Cloudy was great, I wish it would get more attention. Sony Animation really proved they are right up there with the big boys, and that they bring something new.

    The story was very original and they did not taking themselves too seriously. It’s one the most technically impressive film this year too (I’d say equal to MvA, in a different way), and it was well directed. I think Cloudy is the strongest contender this year after F.Fox.

  • TheVok

    Nick, look at those budgets again; Coraline cost almost twice as much as Fantastic Mr. Fox to produce.

    TheGunHeart, John K’s point was that the animals in Fantastic Mr. Fox don’t look like animals, but more like people dressed as animals:

    And you must admit he’s right on that count.

  • Sylvain

    John K sounds like one of those who didn’t see the film at all. That hyper-realism was the whole fucking point of the screenplay, the story wouldn’t have worked any other way. I really hope he isn’t on the jury of any important awards, *wink* *wink*

  • HH

    Fantastic Mr. Fox is a win.

  • Sylvain

    Hey, the animation-victims must be happy, once again their circle of friends at pixar have won the golden globe, just as planned. Who would have thought that familiarity of brand, politically correctness, extreme lobbying, and mediatic bullying would triumph against quirky and intelligent filmmaking ? It certainly means something important I guess, doesn’t it ?

  • Pepe K.

    Up got the Oscar it deserved, although for sheer beauty, I feel that Ponyo was the best animated feature that year. Both films were made us cry for joy and scentiment. They are wonderful films.

    Fantastic Mister Fox on the other hand – was a gross disappointment to me. The book by Roald Dahl was vastly more enjoyable and was what got me to view that travesty of a film. The animation was horrible – Robot Chicken does better! The casting of popular NY -Hollywood actors like the highly over-rated G. Clooney and capitalizing on his Ocean’s Eleven film was absolutely abyssmal! Updating the story made it far worse and removed all the folksy charm of the book and characters. Making the Foxes into yet another dysfunctional family that had to be brought back together is a dead & buried plot idea. I barely managed to sit through it all – constantly saying :” How could they have done this?! It’s so utterly horrible! They have ruined a great story!”