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A little girl lives in a very grown-up world with her mother, who tries to prepare her for it. Her neighbor, the Aviator, introduces the girl to an extraordinary world where anything is possible, the world of the Little Prince.

Voiced by Marion Cotillard, Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams.


Footage of Dreamworks’ new animated film Trolls hit the Cannes film fest today. Various clips were shown of the new film, while two of the film’s stars, Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick sang a song for the film. AwardsDaily was given a look since we’re not going to Cannes this year. I have to admit I went in thinking it would be just okay but came out thinking it would be the best thing ever. The new film based on the troll dolls creates a different kind of universe that incorporates mythic trolls and blends that with the more familiar dolls. The clips I saw were surprisingly moving, but as expected, fun and funny. The painstaking and vibrant animation includes a kind of felt scrapbook which partly tells the story. I suspect Trolls is going to be a massive hit and potentially one of the five nominated at year’s end but will have to see the final film.

The footage I saw was a showstopping vocal performance by Kendrick, with Timberlake contributing much of the film’s sound overall, choosing what songs went on the soundtrack.
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Trolls will hit around November, from Dreamworks, and stars Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christine Baranski, James Corden, Kunal Nayyar, Quvenzhané Wallis, John Cleese, Jeffrey Tambor Russell Brand and Gwen Stefani. A few are pictured in the video, which is hard to watch without dance dance dancing.


Zootopia has already made a staggering amount of coin, with a domestic total at $297,849,421, and international box office at $2,147,483,647. The Disney zoo animation pic was released March 4, a few months before Inside Out was (June, 2015) but it nonetheless has the same kind of buzz swirling around it. Last year at the Cannes Film Fest Zootopia was featured on a Disney/Pixar sizzle reel that also contained some footage – albeit minimal – for Finding Dory. Now, more footage of Finding Dory was shown at cinema-con to much excitement. Is this year going to be between Finding Dory and Zootopia?
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No 2015 movie pleased the critics and enchanted audiences while embracing creativity and tugging on heart strings as successfully as Pixar’s Inside Out. As Scott Mendleson pointed out in his Top Ten list, the power Inside Out harnessed at the box office is a rarity considering it wasn’t a sequel, reboot, or adaptation. Movies that don’t fit those criteria get lost in our modern era of branded, multiplex entertainment. Yes, Disney and Pixar are established with the public in their own right, but the studio logo alone doesn’t automatically motivate audiences to buy tickets (Case in point: The Good Dinosaur). Inside Out earned every dollar connecting genuine emotions with audiences during the superficial, blockbuster season.
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Best Animated Feature 

  • Anomalisa – Paramount Pictures
  • Inside Out – Pixar Animation Studios
  • Shaun the Sheep The Movie – Aardman Animations
  • The Good Dinosaur – Pixar Animation Studios
  • The Peanuts Movie – Blue Sky Studios, Twentieth Century Fox Animation

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Given that Hayou Miyazaki sent a shockwave through American animation and the way Pixar and Disney have been influenced by him, it’s a little silly to think there could be any more movement in the animation genre here. But over the years, there has been. Some of it has been noticed, but some hasn’t. How many people even saw The Congress where Ari Folman blended animation with live action for a crazy kind of abstract vision of the future. The Congress went mostly ignored by ticket-buyers but what it was aiming for was interesting.

Inside Out is that rare film that hits both the snooty critics and mainstream audiences. It has earned $356 million. As a Pixar movie. With a female protag. All of that talk about how animated films with female characters could not connect. (Doubts already dispelled by last Frozen two years ago). The thing about gender, though, is that our ideas about it are shifting ever so slightly. Most of us adults aren’t really paying attention to how fluid the notion of gender is becoming to younger generations, so that you can’t really be certain about those “rules” that say there has to be a male lead. More than that, by making Riley female, it adds a kind of complexity you could only have if your male character could be a little more flexible with gender. For instance, Riley plays hockey. She isn’t a typical “girly girl” although that’s very much a part of her inner world too – sparkly ponies, hot teen idols, rainbows and imaginary friends all occupy various parts of her inner world. The creators of Inside Out also gave her traces of “anger” usually reserved for boys, and didn’t just populate her inner emotions with female personas. Sure, her Joy and her Sadness are notably different kinds of females but there is so much else going on inside that young girl’s head clearly the writers were freer with how they set about defining that inside.

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Finding Dory takes off in a slightly different direction from Finding Nemo. This time, they’re in search of Dory’s background. Where she came from and how she learned to speak whale. Pic is slated for release June 17, 2016.

Full poster after the jump.

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Sixteen features have been submitted for consideration in the animated feature category for the 88th Academy Awards. Check out the trailers for all the submitted features:

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For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume? – TS Eliot

It doesn’t happen often to me, hardly ever at all by anything created by human beings. Sure, I can watch as a hummingbird flutters downward and points its beak suspiciously at me, and maybe behind it the sun is burning up the clouds making an electric sunset just as the wind kicks up in a dramatic gust to take the hummingbird somewhere else. For a brief moment, everything stops because, goddamn it, that’s a beautiful thing.

Charlie Kaufman has the ability to dwell somewhere between the sweetest love song and the darkest night of the soul. We’re not talking just your ordinary dark night of the soul, like contemplating one’s own mortality or the death of true love, or shaking off of futility. We’re talking soul sucking blackness – we’re talking the unbearable surreality of it all – the mostly ugly nature of humans and all of our collective humiliations.

And that’s if we have the luxury to even notice how surreal and humiliating it all is. There’s a chance we could have been born in a place where our daily obsession is finding a crumb to eat, or to not be that person who is chosen to strap on a suicide vest and wander into a shopping mall. In our lives, in our mostly isolated, pampered, protected lives, we have the luxury to notice how insane it all is anyway.

In the sweetest parts of Kaufman’s work, though, there always exist the most endearing female creatures. She might be someone anyone would fall for, like Kate Winslet’s Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or she might be someone you’d pass by every day and never notice, like the wonderful Lisa (voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh) in Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s blazingly brilliant new film Anomalisa. It is the sweetness of Lisa that undoes Kaufman’s bleak condemnation of the human condition.

Anomalisa is about Michael Stone (David Thewlis) who lives inside himself and can’t really connect to anyone else. He doesn’t want to talk to anyone else because he keeps hearing the same voice over and over (all voiced by Tom Noonan). No one is different. Everyone is the same. No one talks about anything that really matters – they just fake a friendly attitude, which seems like it would suit Michael well, being that he’s a customer service “expert.”

Customer service in America is a way of making a person feel important even when – especially when – they are anything but. It is a distinctly American phenomenon that only faintly exists elsewhere. Michael is British, which is neither here nor there since he lives in America and has adopted American attitudes, otherwise he couldn’t have written the bestselling book on customer service.

He is a man without joy; without the ability to find it in a world that apparently doesn’t have it. He reaches for and briefly clings to women in the hope that they can bring him out of his inner cage. But that only works briefly, because sooner or later they too become one of “them.” The people “out there.”

When Michael meets Lisa he falls immediately in love with her unique voice, which stands out since all of the characters are voiced by Noonan. Leigh’s Lisa is a rambling, insecure, funny wallflower who comes from a world without any sort of distinction. She somehow is the distinction, the anomaly, with her passion for pressing buttons and her love of Cyndi Lauper songs. Ah Lisa. The sweetest thing. The nicest thing.

This is it, he thinks. This has got to be it. This is the one person who can save him from the long echo of misery. It is in the moments with Lisa that Anomalisa opens a tiny door to a secret world of fragility. The tender way Michael woos Lisa, the funny/sad/sweet way she lets him illuminate how true love feels, especially in that first moment of white-hot light and heat when you can’t get close enough to this person you want. That feeling, that first flush of love and lust is, we humans know, temporary. It’s not built for happily ever after, though we all wish it were. It’s there for a moment – held aloft by impossibly fast, invisible wings – something we can’t control.

In the end, though, this is a Charlie Kaufman story. Therefore the tussle between forever happiness and forever inner torture are bound to do battle. If you’re a fan, you know what usually wins out. There is a distinct difference between Michael and Lisa. If he is always looking to be carried away by something not built to last, she is always looking at what’s most promising, always saying yes to what is without wanting what could be. He can’t make her unhappy. Her can’t bring her into his void. That, too, makes her an anomaly.

How could these puppets come to such living, breathing life in front of our eyes? They’re puppets! Surely we know they’re puppets. And yet, here it is – the genius of these animators to invest their time at a great cost, and to invest their emotions in an unreal world they had to make real. And it is real. It feels real. Because those puppets are containers for the writer, the actors, and anyone else who touches them. What lives inside them brings them to life.

At the Q&A afterwards the publicists brought out the real puppets of Michael and Lisa. “Charlie doesn’t like to look at the puppets,” Johnson said. When asked why not, Kaufman said that to him they felt like real people and to see them so still and slumped over was too hard. I had to agree. They did feel real to me too.

When Jennifer Jason Leigh saw the film, she told EW, “I even forget they’re puppets, especially during the sex scene, which is so incredibly embarrassing. Even though it’s not my body, it’s not my face, it feels like the most explicit sex scene I’ve ever done.”

Much will be made of the graphic sex scene. Much will be made of the real looking penis, pubic hair and breasts. It is only a part of what makes Anomalisa feel authentic. They’re puppets, yes. They were held up by strings, their feet nailed into the floor to take each step and yet, there isn’t a moment in this film where you stop being invested in their outcome.

Even as I write that, I can see it turned into a blurb on the poster, “one of the best films ever made,” and it sounds like hyperbole. I’d run out of words trying to describe how great this movie is and nothing I could write would be able to explain it properly. It’s simply a movie that has to be seen, preferably on the big screen where you can see the teeny tiny effects that are barely noticeable and wouldn’t be noticeable on a smaller television screen.

The film, like so much of Kaufman’s work, is that eternal battle to hold on, to fight back, but to eventually surrender to the idea that we’re not meant to be happy all of the time. In fact, we wouldn’t know happiness if we had it all of the time. To notice it at all – even when it’s flying right in front of your face, and even if it doesn’t last, even if you can’t hold on to it and keep it close, even if it can’t transform you – is the true and enduring miracle.


One of the constant themes between the readers of this site and me is whether pixar’s breakout hit, Inside Out, will have a shot at being nominated for Best Picture. Kris Tapley and nine other Gold Derby pundits are currently predicting the film to get a nomination. Anne Thompson and I are two hold-outs, among others, in not predicting it. People keep asking me why or why not so I thought I would explain myself.

You ready? Okay, here goes. Beauty and the Beast shocked everyone and was nominated for Best Picture in 1992 when there were only five slots on the nomination ballot and five nominees for Best Picture. But Pixar was probably more responsible for the creation of that category which, frankly, took way too long to create. After Toy Story came out, there was talk continually about whether these great films that were coming out of animation studios could do what Beauty and the Beast did – take a slot in the Best Picture category away from the live action films. It wouldn’t be Pixar but Dreamworks that would win in the first ever animated feature category in 2001.

After 2003’s Finding Nemo, Pixar would win for The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up, and Toy Story 3. When they have a great movie they dominate the field. The only time since Beauty and the Beast was nominated, however, that an animated movie cracked Best Picture was in 2009 and 2010, when the Academy had ten nomination slots and ten nominees.

In 2011, the Academy went back to five nomination slots, but still allowed for more than five nominees. The key to why I don’t think Inside Out will get in lies with the five slots for nominating. But before we move on to that, let’s consider the animated movies that were extraordinary by any measure that didn’t get in with five nomination slots – the big one is Wall-E.

In Inside Out’s favor, there hasn’t been a movie as good as Wall-E coming out of Pixar since they changed to five nomination slots, not one that would threaten to crack the Best Picture category anyway. To that end, Inside Out seems to have a much better chance than any film since 2011.

The other thing Inside Out has going for it is if it can get 300 #1 votes; you can’t even get on the ballot at all to make the cut if you aren’t named the Best Film of the Year by 300 Academy members. If they can get those 300 votes, there’s a good chance Inside Out can get in. That’s a big if unless you consider that the animation branch is around 300 and if they band together they might be able to mobilize and get those #1 votes.

I remain skeptical for three reasons. The first is that Inside Out is female driven. Academy members like male driven stories except for Beauty and the Beast. Inside Out is brilliant beyond words and a very very good film but it is still about the inside of a girl’s head.

The second reason is that The Good Dinosaur is already on track to beat Inside Out’s $354 million take at the box office. What an astounding number for Inside Out but you have to admit it would be better for the film’s Oscar chances if it remained the highest grossing animated film (at the very least) of the year.

The third reason is that its inclusion would be dependent upon every other movie coming up, those that haven’t been seen and predicted already, to fail.

We can’t go any higher than nine. It would be a fluke if it got to ten but you have to ask Ryan or Marshall Flores to explain to you why because I do not understand.

Let’s look at what we think will be nominated so far:

1. The Martian – seems like a lock at the moment but time will have to tell.
2. Spotlight – seems like a slam dunk.
3. Steve Jobs – ditto
4. Bridge of Spies – looks stronger by the day
5. Room – winning hearts plus won the audience award at Toronto
6. Brooklyn – I’m going to guess this one becomes many voters’ favorite film of the year.
7. Carol – still a strong possibility.

Now we have to make room for what’s coming next:
1. The Revenant
2. Joy
3. The Big Short
4. The Hateful Eight
5. Concussion
6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
7. By the Sea

To pick Inside Out, six of these will have to go. And even if they did go, would they be replaced by Inside Out or one of the other fringe dwellers, like The Danish Girl, Mad Max, Suffragette, Black Mass or Love & Mercy?

Why would a voter choose an animated film for their mere five slots when they know Inside Out is not only going to get nominated in the animated category but will probably win?

Here is your chance to make your best argument as to why you think it will get in.


Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa has already taken film critics by storm and is on track to win the Los Angeles Film Critics award for Best Picture (bet ya). It will go head to head with the animated feature favorite to win right now, Pixar’s blockbusting game changer, Inside Out, which currently holds 3rd place among the highest grossing films of the year.

Anomalisa is already the favorite of many who will be voting in the LAFC awards and they’re inclined toward breaking with the typical Oscar frontrunner — as opposed to New York film critics who tend to align with Oscar more frequently. Anomalisa has a 98 on Metacritic and will go down as — I suspect — the film with the year’s best reviews, at least by that site’s math.

You have to hand it to Charlie Kaufman for refusing to color inside the lines. Kudos to Paramount for taking on such a difficult sell.

Press release as follows:

 Paramount Pictures, a division of Viacom, announced it will distribute worldwide the film ANOMALISA from directors Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson.  ANOMALISA has emerged as the most lauded film to debut this Fall, winning near universal critical acclaim.  After world premiering at the Telluride Film Festival, the film won the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival where it screened in competition.  It also just screened at the Toronto International Film Festival as a Special Presentation and will next show at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas and at the San Sebastian Film Festival. Domestically, the film will be released on December 30, 2015 in New York and Los Angeles.
Said Brad Grey, CEO and Chairman of Paramount Pictures, “The film is a spectacular achievement of artistry, one that we are incredibly pleased to be a part of. Charlie is a filmmaker of immense vision and craft and he and Duke have created a film that stands alone as one of the year’s best”.
“ANOMALISA has been a three year labor of love and we are thrilled the film has now found a home at Paramount with people who are passionate about the film and are committed to sharing it with the world,” said directors Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson with producer Rosa Tran.
Michael Stone, husband, father and respected author of “How May I Help You Help Them?,” is a man crippled by the mundanity of his life. On a business trip to Cincinnati, where he’s scheduled to speak at a convention of customer service professionals, he checks into the Fregoli Hotel. There, he is amazed to discover a possible escape from his desperation in the form of an unassuming Akron baked goods sales rep, Lisa, who may or may not be the love of his life. A beautifully tender and absurdly humorous dreamscape, from the brilliant minds of Charlie Kaufman (SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK ) and Duke Johnson (“Community” episode, Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas), this stop-motion animation wonder features the vocal cast of Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan and David Thewlis and a stirring strings-based score by Carter Burwell.  The darkly comedic and surreal stop-motion journey of a man’s long night of the soul, ANOMALISA confirms Charlie Kaufman’s place amongst the most important of American filmmakers, and announces Duke Johnson as a major creative force. 
The film, partially funded via a Kickstarter campaign, is a Starburns  Industries, Snoot Entertainment production, and is produced by Rosa Tran, Johnson, Kaufman, and Dino Stamatopoulos. The film is executive produced by James A. Fino, Dan Harmon, Joe Russo II, Keith Calder, Jessica Calder, Aaron Mitchell, Kassandra Mitchell, Pandora Edmiston, David Fuchs, Simon Ore, David Rheingold, and Adrian Versteegh.


Finding Dorie gets a new still and some casting news, as follows:

DORY DIVES IN — Ellen DeGeneres (“The Ellen DeGeneres Show”), the voice of everyone’s favorite forgetful blue tang, took a dip with D23 EXPO attendees this afternoon, celebrating Disney·Pixar’s upcoming film “Finding Dory.” Joining DeGeneres on stage this afternoon were Ed O’Neill (“Modern Family”), who lends his voice to Hank, a cantankerous octopus; Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”), the voice of Bailey, a misguided beluga whale; and Kaitlin Olson (“Always Sunny in Philadelphia”), who voices Destiny, a kind-hearted whale shark. Oscar®-winning director Andrew Stanton (“Finding Nemo,” “WALL•E”), co-director Angus MacLane and producer Lindsey Collins (co-producer “WALL•E”) offered new details of the all-new story, which reunites Dory with friends Nemo and Marlin on a search for answers about her past. What can she remember? Who are her parents? And where did she learn to speak Whale? Also featuring the voices of Albert Brooks, Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy, Disney·Pixar’s “Finding Dory” swims into theaters June 17, 2016.

The Good Dinosaur



Riley’s First Date, the short film made its World Film Premiere and will be included as a bonus feature in the digital HD & Blu-ray releases of Disney·Pixar’s “Inside Out,” which will be available digitally Oct. 13 and on Blu-ray Nov. 3, 2015.

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“GIGANTIC” TAKES ROOT – “Gigantic,” Disney’s unique take on “Jack and the Beanstalk,” will feature music from Oscar®-winning songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who greeted D23 EXPO fans in signature style—in song—alongside director Nathan Greno (“Tangled”) and producer Dorothy McKim (“Get A Horse!”). Set in Spain during the Age of Exploration, Disney’s “Gigantic” follows adventure-seeker Jack as he discovers a world of giants hidden within the clouds. He hatches a grand plan with Inma, a 60-foot-tall, 11-year-old girl, and agrees to help her find her way home. But he doesn’t account for her super-sized personality—and who knew giants were so down to earth? “Gigantic” hits theaters in 2018.



Zootopia -SHAKIRA SHAKES UP “ZOOTOPIA” – International superstar Shakira is lending her Grammy®-winning voice to Gazelle, the biggest pop star in Zootopia, D23 EXPO fans learned via a taped message from Shakira today. Ginnifer Goodwin (ABC’s “Once Upon a Time,” “Something Borrowed,” “Walk the Line”), the voice of the film’s rookie rabbit officer Judy Hopps, saluted fans alongside directors Byron Howard (“Tangled”) and Rich Moore (“Wreck-It Ralph”), and producer Clark Spencer (“Wreck-It Ralph”). Hilarious new scenes from the film were unveiled, plus a tease of the all-new original song, “Try Everything,” written by singer-songwriter Sia and songwriting duo Stargate, and performed by Shakira. Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Zootopia” opens nationwide March 4, 2016.






We saw an extended look at this new Pixar film in Cannes with an event hosted by John Lasseter. Needless to say it looks more than up to Pixar’s standards with breakthrough animation and a touching story about a lost boy. In the clips we saw the water looked so real it could have been live action. For Oscar Pixar will go up against Pixar with Inside Out.

inside out

Pixar hasn’t just reinvented animation for the 21st century, they’ve expanded it forward to a space and time where the adult/child line is blurred and the creativity on display is astonishingly rendered. You forget you’re watching a film primarily aimed for kids. You feel like a child again, full of innocence, full of joy, discovering a new world that previously seemed so out of reach. Over the past 20 years, Pixar has given us so much more than 15 timeless movies; they’ve brought us the ability to succumb to a universe full of magic and stories that hit the truest notes possible. It’s hard to imagine a cinematic landscape without Pixar, and the significance they represent cannot be underestimated. Their effect on regular, live-action movies is self-evident. They’ve pushed boundaries and forced other
filmmakers to think beyond the box. Here’s to another 20 great years.

1) WALL-E (2008)
Any Pixar list must begin and end with this masterpiece. The first half hour of WALL-E has scarcely any dialogue and plays like a silent Chaplin movie -– that is if he had ever decided to make a post-apocalyptic movie about a lonely garbage-chewing bot who falls in love with an A.I. named Eve. The second half is more conventional but nevertheless visionary. The future that director Andrew Stanton concocts is that of a torn up world, ravaged by an environmental crisis, where the planet’s citizens have been evacuated to live aboard a space cruiser, with only one last possible chance to rebuild.

2) Up (2009)
I don’t know many people who can come out of this film’s first 10 minutes with a dry eye. In 10 hopelessly romantic and surreal minutes, Pixar gave us the quintessential anatomy of life, love, and death in a simple but heartbreaking montage that might just be the crowning achievement of the studio.  Although the rest of the film can’t reach the peak of that montage (and really, which can?), the rest of the film is incredibly great and visually vivid, bursting out with colors. It’s an allegorical film about aging without regret but with dignity.

3) Inside Out (2015)
“Inside Out” opens this week with a flurry of rave reviews and a brilliant marketing campaign that will have you in stitches, but is the movie any good? Yes. It’s damn good. In fact, this is the brainiest, most trippy movie Pixar has made so far. Coming out of the theater, a buddy of mine, who is coincidentally a psychologist, told me the movie should be mandatory viewing for all psych students. How does Pixar come up with such ambitiously ingenious ideas? I’m guessing this is the movie most have not yet seen from my list, so I won’t say much, but just let your brain have a little workout with this golden nugget of a movie.

4) The Incredibles (2004)
While we get relentlessly pummeled by countless superhero movies every single year, it is a breath of fresh air to see the genre work so triumphantly well. Brad Bird has proven his worth in the past, most notably with the criminally underrated animated movie “The Iron Giant”. Bird gives us another visual treat by tackling the superhero genre and coming out with a classic that can stand alongside “The Dark Knight” and “Spider-Man 2”. The action scenes are breathtakingly staged, with Bird’s incredible eye for detail and pacing coming in handy. Unlike many superhero movies, this is one of the rare cases where a sequel would be welcome and well-deserved.

5) Toy Story 3 (2010)
What more can be said about “Toy Story 3”? It was supposed to be the last hurrah. A sequel was just announced recently, but it will be very hard to top this achievement.  Tackling adult themes, the movie was the darkest, most vicious of the series, with a villain who could scare you more than any live-action baddie. The stakes were dead real, tackling the loss of innocence and the promotion – or is that a demotion? – to adulthood. Near the end of the movie’s wrenching climax, as our heroes are about to get cooked alive in an oven, you can’t help but think the inevitable could actually happen. Never have I feared for the lives of animated characters more than in this movie.

6) Ratatouille (2007)
A Parisian rat named Remy just wants to become a chef. This could have gone wrong on so many levels, but it didn’t.  “Ratatouille” is highly enjoyable, recounting some of the Disney gems from the golden age of animation. When Remy starts cooking up a storm in the Parisian kitchen he has crashed, the moves are like ballet, effortlessly propelling his miniature body all around the kitchen and unequivocally expressing his unadorned passion for cooking.  This again shows just how influenced by Chaplin the great animators at Pixar really are.

7) Finding Nemo (2003)
I can think of three times in cinematic history where an actor or actress deserved to get nominated for a voice performance: Robin Williams as the Genie in “Aladdin”, Jeremy Irons as Scar in “The Lion King”, and of course Ellen DeGeneres as Dory in Pixar’s “Finding Nemo”. The work DeGeneres does here is nothing short of brilliant.  She uses a playful innocence to counterbalance Albert Brooks’ sombre, more serious tone as Nemo’s father.  The lighter optimism of Dory shines through and perfectly complements the astonishing visuals of the coral reef in all its glory.

8) Toy Story 2 (1999)
We had no right to expect a sequel that would be better than the original, but that’s exactly what “Toy Story 2” accomplished. This time around we had a better story, improved animation, and an exhilarating sense of adventure. If the original was riding high off of its landmark CGI, this sequel was trying to perfect the glitches that held the story back a little the first time around. With Indiana Jones styled action, “Toy Story 2” proved there was still room to expand in the Pixar canon, and that these guys were dead serious about blowing us away.

9) Toy Story (1995)
It all started here. The first time I saw “Toy Story” I could scarcely imagine how groundbreaking and important it would become for animation. This movie literally changed the game and practically got rid of all hand drawn animation in Hollywood, which of course is a real shame, because hand drawn is still one of the most beautiful and creative ways to make a movie – just look at any Hayao Miyazaki movie if you don’t believe me. Now almost every single animated movie is CGI and we’ve relied so heavily on it because of how monstrous a success Pixar had with “Toy Story”. The facial expressions, the movements, and the effortless flow that carry characters about was unprecedented. It was goodbye to the classical and welcome to the new age.

10) Monsters Inc. (2000)
There hasn’t been a cuter, more adorable Pixar creation than Boo. The little girl who called Sully “Kitty” just about made the movie for me. The attention to detail given to Boo was simply amazing, encompassing the smallest, most precious details a baby girl can have.  Every time she spoke you couldn’t help but just want to hug the screen. Kudos must be given to directors Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich and David Silverman who let this kid run loose and cause chaos at Monsters Inc. Billy Crystal and John Goodman’s voice work and chemistry here is tremendous.

Inside Out Screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen

And here we are again. There are two films that were screened in Cannes that will very likely be named by many authorities as two of the best films of the year but are also two that don’t fit the Academy’s formula for what defines a Best Picture contender. Why? Because one is an animated film and the other a genre movie. While it’s true that Gravity and Life of Pi managed to make the cut in previous years, they are both heavy on emotion and character, while depending heavily on visual effects.

Quick primer on how Best Picture works for those who don’t know the history (it is confusing to many). In 2009, the Academy expanded their Best Picture lineup from five nomination slots and five nominees to ten nomination slots and ten nominees. In those magical years the wide array of films that were selected prove that the Academy members can expand beyond their comfort zone if given enough room.

In 2009 and 2010 voters were given ten nomination slots and ten Best Pictures. There were two films per year directed by women. There were several films nominated about women. There were animated films (Up and Toy Story 3) and genre films (District 9, Avatar, Inception). Sure, the male hero feelgood drama still dominated but there was room for more than just that.

Beginning in 2011 and up to present, the Academy has done away with the ten nomination slots and shrunk it back down to five. They still allow for more than five Best Picture nominees (an even 9 except last year). Voters had to stick to five nominating slots, making it nearly impossible for an animated film, no matter how good it is, to get a Best Picture nod.

This is the single reason that Inside Out can’t be considered a likely Best Picture nominee. The chances of it making the top five lists of enough voters is slim to none. Not only that, but it has to compete with Pixar’s other movie coming out this year, the Good Dinosaur which will feature state-of-the-art visuals as well, and will be more traditionally about your misfit male hero. Pixar against Pixar.

Once again, it would behoove the Academy to open up the Best Picture race and make it a REAL race again. While it’s true that ten sort of obliterates the unification of Best Picture and Best Director or any film ever sweeping the Oscars again, it does help address the way Hollywood has changed.

Devin Faraci wrote a nice piece about Inside Out where he says how much more meaningful the story is because the stakes are higher:

As the two emotions try to make their way back to Headquarters they are shocked to discover that Riley’s Islands of Personality – the emotional epicenters of who she is, and the things that define her as a person – are unstable. More than unstable, some of them begin to completely fail, falling away into the Memory Hole, from which nothing returns. Joy and Sadness have to get back to Riley’s Headquarters before all of the Islands collapse, changing her into someone unrecognizable.

These stakes are enormous. The world isn’t going to end, no one is going to die and the future of the human race aren’t on the line here, but the film firmly establishes that what’s going on inside Riley’s head is important. The film established that Riley is a good kid, and that Riley deserves something as basic as a smile on her face. Watching the movie – often through a film of tears – I cared more about whether Riley would keep playing hockey than I cared about whether Chris Pratt would escape the dinosaurs at my previous night’s screening.

Stakes come when we care about characters, and the biggest stakes are how things will impact those characters. We all know that Sadness and Joy will eventually make it back to Headquarters, but will they get there in time to help Riley maintain the things that make her her? And how the heck will they manage to make the journey in time? As each Island of Personality crumbled and collapsed I felt more tension and concern than I did seeing a hundred CGI cities laid waste over the last few years.

When a film cuts this deeply it’s worth considering it as one of the year’s best, whether it is animated or not.


Since Pixar and Disney brought Inside Out to Cannes, they also hosted a special presentation to feature several other films coming up in months ahead from the two studios. Their offerings are distinctly different in many respects; Pixar is always going to be Pixar and Disney is always going to be Disney, but both houses have benefited from recent technological advances that will truly change the way we all regard animation. In short, it is starting to look more like real life, or live action.

The most disappointing part of the event was to see that with all of their movies coming up they had not a single female director to announce. All of them were male with female producers, even for two films that have female protagonists. It is clear that they don’t trust women yet to helm these kinds of films or else it’s the kind of thing where you can only get the job if you have a previous credit.

After Jennifer Lee co-directed Frozen last year, Disney’s biggest hit of all time, you’d think they’d at least go with a co-director but nope. It’s 100% men. That bummer aside, the movies look pretty great.

Pixar reps talked about The Good Dinosaur, opening November 25, the story of a young male dino getting lost and finding a pal in a young boy human. The animation on this is going to blow the lid off the joint, as they say. Absolutely incredible atmosphere. We saw a bit of it and indeed, it’s jaw-dropping. It looks to be a very traditional Pixar story in that it is a little boy lost finding his way and saving the day. It’s sure to be a hit and will give Inside Out a run for its money for the animated feature Oscar, though I suspect The Good Dinosaur could win out because of its groundbreaking animation.

Pixar also announced two upcoming sequels, Toy Story 4 which will start a new chapter in the life of toys and won’t involve Woody and Buzz. No plot details were given on that. Finding Dory picks up where Finding Nemo left off. That looks like a great follow-up to one of their all-time best.

Disney has Zootopia coming out in 2016 and I wanted to see the whole film after watching today’s clips. It looks funny and interesting with what they’re trying to do. It gets the closer than any of these films in dealing with any sort of issue short of raising a child’s self-esteem. Next up, Moana, directed by John Musker and Ron Clements (Aladdin, The Little Mermaid) will feature lots of music, songs and pretty pretty animation, and will also introduce a new raven-haired Disney princess for your purchasing pleasure.

It’s exciting to watch the animation genre explode. I think women directors will eventually break in but it won’t be without a fight. Maybe they have to start their own animation studio. My daughter is about to graduate high school and has a mind to major in animation at college. I hope that by the time she does, the landscape will have changed and more women will be allowed into the club.

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“At the heart of it all is The Little Girl (Mackenzie Foy), who’s being prepared by her mother (Rachel McAdams) for the very grown-up world in which they live – only to be interrupted by her eccentric, kind-hearted neighbor, The Aviator (Jeff Bridges). The Aviator introduces his new friend to an extraordinary world where anything is possible. A world that he himself was initiated into long ago by The Little Prince (newcomer Riley Osborne). It’s here that The Little Girl’s magical and emotional journey into the universe of The Little Prince begins. And it’s where The Little Girl rediscovers her childhood and learns that ultimately, it’s human connections that matter most, and that it is only with heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”


Nobody can touch Ari Folman’s approach to animation – he, like Miyazaki, is rewriting the rules. If you’ve not yet seen The Congress give it a whirl. It is unlike anything I’ve ever seen – imaginative, dark, beautiful. I expect his film on Anne Frank will walk that same odd line. Hard to package and sell these kinds of films to today’s audience who are branded beyond an inch of their lives and won’t see anything unless there’s pre-awareness or a toy or comic book tie-in. But wow, right? Indiewire gives us a preview of the film. Believe it or not, according to this site, where the images originated, the film is trying to secure financing. Can you imagine? No wonder Hollywood is becoming a mini mall of fast food joints.

Ari Folman continues to follow his own strange star. The Israeli filmmaker will follow his spellbinding animation hybrids “Waltz with Bashir” (Oscar-nominated) and “The Congress” (a high-IQ cult oddity that will someday get its due) with an animated retelling of the life and diary of Anne Frank.

A blend of stop-motion and traditional animation—with 2D characters cut into stop-motion backgrounds — his Anne Frank Film is the first of its kind. That’s because Folman, with Diana Elbaum of Belgian-based production company Entre Chien et Loup, negotiated to obtain world rights in all languages and media and complete access to the Anne Frank archives.

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