Back again for another highly opinionated — some might even say downright cranky — look at some element of the fantasy genre. You’ve been warned!
TWO FANTASY MOVIES CLEARLY DESERVE TO BE NOMINATED FOR BEST PICTURE
Over a year ago, I wrote an article asking if the current “renaissance” in animated movies was possibly coming to an end.
We now know the answer: absolutely fricking not!
The year also saw a number of other animated movies that, while not close to being in the same league, were also pretty good: How to Train Your Dragon, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, and (to an even lesser degree) Shrek: Forever After.
Interestingly, all these movies were fantasy-themed.
And even more interestingly, most of these animated movies were considerably better than the year’s live-action fantasy movies. Twilight: Eclipse? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1? Alice in Wonderland? The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time? Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World?
Please. And don’t get me started on the monstrosity that was the Clash of the Titans remake.
Boy, is the animation renaissance not yet over!
But Toy Story3 and Tangled aren’t just two of the best movies in the fantasy or animated genres: they’re also clearly two of the best movies of the year.
They both deserve to be nominated for Oscars — and I don’t mean Best Animated Feature Oscars (though they’ll obviously get those nominations too).
I mean Best Picture Oscars — especially now that they’ve expanded the category to include ten nominees, up from five.
Will they be nominated?
Toy Story 3 almost certainly will be: Pixar is beloved by Academy members (much the way their now-corporate parent, Disney, used to be).
But Tangled seems like a much, much longer shot.
Why? In part, because of Toy Story 3’s seeming “lock” on a nomination: there may be an attitude, unconscious or not, that animated movies only deserve one slot among the ten nominees.
I also don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that the Academy, which is comprised of established industry professionals (who tend to be both older and male), probably has something of an anti-”princess” (and kids’ movie) bias, and perhaps an outright anti-female bias. They definitely have an anti-”genre” bias, displaying a long track record that clearly indicates that they think “drama” is more important and award-worthy than anything sci-fi or fantasy.
Toy Story 3 seems to have threaded the needle perfectly: it doesn’t “seem” like straight fantasy or an outright kids’ movie. And, sure enough, both the humor and theme work on several levels: simple enough to appeal to kids, but with subtext and subtle cultural references that also appeal to (smart) adults.
And I can’t begrudge Toy Story 3 its success: it’s a flat-out terrific movie — the first wholly successful movie Pixar has produced in years, IMHO.
But Tangled is flat-out terrific too — simultaneously old-fashioned and contemporary, with a terrifically original visual look. Like Toy Story 3, it also appeals to both kids and adults.
Even apart from the Oscar race, the release of these two movies (and the year’s other fine animated movies) gives me reason for great optimism when it comes to film: at least I now know that Hollywood can still produce quality “popular” entertainment when it wants to.
Now if the town would only apply some of this obvious ingenuity to its live-action movie offerings — and stop their creativity-destroying reliance on remake, sequels, and “re-imaginings.”
Yeah, I know that’s crazy talk. But hey, a guy can dream!
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