This is an unusual year for Animated Feature Film awards. For a category that’s often been awarded to Pixar Animation Studios, Best Animated Feature may go to a film that’s not been widely seen. There are two sequels: Toy Story 4 and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. One of the other box office successes, Frozen 2, was only nominated for Best Original Song (“Into the Unknown” by Panic At The Disco). LAIKA, the wonderful stop motion studio that gave us Coraline, ParaNorman, and Kubo and the Two Strings received a nomination for Missing Link. Sadly, there was already a better film about an Abominable Snowman from Dreamworks this year; Abominable.
The Oscar Feature Animation category has a few unusual choices: I Lost My Body and Klaus. This week, BAFTA (British Academy Film Awards) selected Klaus, the first original animated feature produced by Netflix, as top animated film. A tale of a selfish postman ordered to a faraway frozen island full of warring tribes–Klaus features beautiful animation, characters both caustic and cute, and an offbeat origin tale of Santa Claus.
Film writer Bilge Ebiri has even more to say about Netflix Animation and the Oscar Nominations this year.
A Christmas movie from Spain featuring a talented vocal cast is odd enough; I Lost My Body is an adventure featuring an amputated hand traveling through Paris to be united with a troubled young man. This French film can also be seen on Netflix and is strangely touching and beautiful and yes, quite original!
There are also some unusual short animated films nominated for an Oscar. Most of the films have no dialogue. The Oscar Nominated Shorts can be seen in select theaters screened by ShortsTV and many can be streamed online. Hair Love is my favorite. A father attempts to tame his daughter’s natural nappy hair for a special trip to see her mother. The film is heartwarming and tender. There’s a film made by Pixar staff. Kitbull celebrates the friendship of an abused pit bull and his spirited tom cat savior. The rest of the films share that sad tone. Sister is a lively animated short about how China’s One Child Law deprived a boy of his sister. Mémorable is a touching film about dementia from France. Dcera (Daughter) is a poetic Czech film illustrating lost communication between a father and daughter. I confess to not liking the animation but the fantasy bird sequences were lovely.
As we gather with friends this Sunday to celebrate cinema, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will bestow honors on only a few talented individuals and films. You know that however it plays out, there’s always more artists in the industry struggling to get their work seen and appreciated. Let’s celebrate them all.