Saturday, January 28, 2012

2011 Oscar Nominated Shorts Heading to Theatres

ShortsHD is teaming up with Magnolia Pictures to bring the 2011 Oscar nominated short films to over 200 screens across the United States and Canada beginning February 10.

The shorts will be divided up into Animation, Live Action and Documentary programmes. (Check with your local theatres in the coming days for dates and showtimes.)

Following the theatrical release, the films (no doubt excluding Pixar's La Luna) will be released on the iTunes Store on Feb. 21 in the US, Canada, UK, and other countries.

I've already seen all of the animated shorts online, except for A Morning Stroll, but I have my ticket to see them again on the big screen at the awesome TIFF Bell Lightbox here in Toronto. La Luna alone is worth the price of admission.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Short: The Last Belle

The 2011 Oscars aren't even behind us yet, and we're already starting to see some of the 2012 crop of short films. One of them is The Last Belle, directed by Neil Boyle.

A rarity these days, every frame was hand painted on cels and shot on traditional film stock. Boyle is proud to point out that Belle was in production for a total of fifteen years, though it was squeezed in between his 'paid' work.

Boyle tells me that "the film was always a kind of holiday for us, done purely for the love of it. It felt like an antidote to the more hi-tech work we produce commercially."

After seeing the trailer a couple of weeks ago on Cartoon Brew, I asked the producers if there was a way I could see Belle early and they were kind enough to trust me with a DVD screener.

The story is simple enough: boyfriendless woman makes a date with guy she met—sans photo—online. Man is an unkempt, drunken idiot. He doesn't arrive on time, of course, and yet she still finds love.

To me, the real star of the short is its setting, London. The Tube stations, crowded DLR train, and drab buildings outside the city centre are all beautifully done and remarkably authentic.

This likely won't be the last time you hear about The Last Belle. The film is looking for distribution and will be entered into festivals worldwide this year. Announcements will be posted on the short's official blog.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

84th Academy Awards Nominations

Nominations for the 84th Academy Awards were announced this morning by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, California.

The nominees for Best Animated Feature Film are:
  • A Cat in Paris
  • Chico & Rita
  • Kung Fu Panda 2
  • Puss in Boots
  • Rango
Contending in the Animated Short FIlm category are:
  • Dimanche (Sunday)
  • The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
  • La Luna
  • A Morning Stroll
  • Wild Life
The Adventures of Tintin is nominated for Original Score, while "Real in Rio" from Rio is nominated for Original Song. (In the latter category, The Muppets is a lock to win for "Man or Muppet".)

The Academy's choices for Animated Feature this year are enormously wrong. I wouldn't have been surprised to see Cars 2 fail to make the cut (though it deserved the recognition), but to see Tintin ignored as well comes as a shock.

Something tells me that the members of the Animation Branch were none too pleased with the film's motion/performance capture technique. Poor Weta.

I would say that Rango has the best chance of winning now, but at this point nothing would shock me. In the animated short slot, nominees are less of a surprise. I've seen all but one of the films online—none should beat Pixar's La Luna.

The 84th Academy Awards presentation takes place on Sunday, February 26 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. It will be televised live on ABC in the United States beginning at 7 PM ET/4 PM PT. Check local listings for international broadcast schedules.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

'Tintin' Takes Home Producers Guild Prize

Producers Peter Jackson, Kathleen Kennedy, and Steven Spielberg won the animation prize at the 23rd Annual Producers Guild Awards last night for The Adventures of Tintin.

The recognition from the Producers Guild of America comes less than a week the film's success at the Golden Globes. These two wins significantly boost Tintin's chances at the Academy Awards next month.

Oscar nominations will be announced this Tuesday at 8:30 AM ET. Check back here and @BigScreenToons on Twitter for the latest animation-themed coverage.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

La Luna Storybook Coming in May

Disney Press will publishing an illustrated storybook based on Pixar's La Luna this May.

It's already available for pre-order from and will arrive before the short opens in theatres with Brave.

Director Enrico Casarosa posted a photo of the glossy cover to Twitter on Wednesday, shown at right.

He later followed up, tweeting:
"Read the La Luna book to my daughter tonight. She was so happy that the book has her name on it. It's dedicated to my dad, grandpa and her."
Filled with "incredible illustrations" drawn from the short, the 40-page hardcover is designed for children ages four and up, but I suspect it'll be 'too good' for kids. If there's a short that's perfectly suited to a picture book adaptation, it's La Luna.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Golden Globe Win for The Adventures of Tintin [UPDATE]

The Adventures of Tintin took home the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards this hour.

Director Steven Spielberg was on hand to accept the award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA).

Following Cars, Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up, and Toy Story 3, Tintin becomes the first non-Pixar film to win in the animation category since it was established for the 2006 awards.
Update: You can watch Spielberg's press room chat with journalists on YouTube.

Nothing very special, but he does touch on what he appreciated about the creative process on Tintin versus live action filmmaking.

Hopefully Spielberg's success will inspire other live action directors to enter the fray, and force Hollywood to recognize the role of directors on animated films. It can only be good for the craft.

(Updated Jan. 16)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Tangled Ever After Clip: The Pursuit

Whether you've seen Tangled Ever After already or not, you'll enjoy this quick, second clip from the short. It's a sampling of some of the 'classic cartoon' action I was talking about.

Teasing 'The Pursuit' is one of many ways Disney is promoting Tangled Ever After and thus Beauty and the Beast 3D, which may end up winning at the box office this weekend. There's also the new hi-res stills from earlier today and the 45-second ceremony clip.

Tangled Ever After Hi-Res Stills

Take a look at these beautiful high resolution stills from Tangled Ever After, now playing in theatres with Beauty and the Beast in 3D. They're fresh from the Disney press site.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review: Beauty and the Beast 3D & Tangled Ever After

The Special 3D Edition of Beauty and the Beast arrives in North American theatres tomorrow, with attached short Tangled Ever After, Walt Disney Animation Studio's follow-up to Tangled.

Directed by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, Tangled Ever After was clearly made with the big screen in mind. The classic, cartoon-style gags are easy to enjoy. A momentary shot of Maximus flying through the air is so ridiculously over the top—I loved it!

Let's hope we see more of these characters.

My only grumble is that the short could have been a lot, lot longer. Actually, the story of Rapunzel and Flynn's wedding (and Max and Pascal's misadventures) could have been told in a different format altogether, like an ABC television special.

When it comes to the feature presentation, the stereoscopic 3-D conversion of Beauty and the Beast unfortunately failed to impress, as did that of The Lion King last fall. Despite my best hopes, the added dimension wasn't for me.

Architecture and landscapes are immersive, but characters (especially their faces) look flat in comparison. That's a direct result of Beauty being traditionally animated, not CG.

Probably the best thing you can do is forget about the 3-D as much as possible and just enjoy the movie. After twenty years, it's still the greatest animated film ever.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Finding Nemo 3D Teaser Trailer

Here's the teaser for the 3-D rerelease of Pixar's Finding Nemo, via Yahoo! Movies. It'll be in theatres in 3-D this Friday with Beauty and the Beast 3-D.

I saw this last weekend at an advance screening and it looks fabulous on the big screen. You get a sense of where Pixar is going with the 3-D effect.

Finding Nemo 3D swims into theatres on September 14.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tangled Ever After Clip & Synopsis

Disney has released a clip from Tangled Ever After, which will be attached to Beauty and the Beast 3D beginning January 13. Watch it below in HD via YouTube.

The short is set during Rapunzel and Flynn's wedding day, following the events of Tangled. It appears that having a horse be your ring bearer is not such a good idea!

Here's an excerpt from the official synopsis:

The Kingdom is in a festive mood as everyone gathers for the royal wedding of Rapunzel and Flynn. However, when Pascal and Maximus, as flower chameleon and ring bearer, respectively, lose the gold bands, a frenzied search and recovery mission gets underway.

As the desperate duo tries to find the rings before anyone discovers that they’re missing, they leave behind a trail of comical chaos that includes flying lanterns, a flock of doves, a wine barrel barricade and a very sticky finale. Will Maximus and Pascal save the day and make it to the church in time? And will they ever get Flynn’s nose right?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Producers Guild Awards 2011 Animation Nominees

Nominations for the 23rd Annual Producers Guild Awards have been announced by the Producers Guild of America (PGA), the group which represents producers in film and television.

Contending in the theatrical animation category are (producers in brackets):
  • The Adventures of Tintin (Peter Jackson, Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg)
  • Cars 2 (Denise Ream)
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 (Melissa Cobb)
  • Puss in Boots (Joe M. Aguilar, Latifa Ouaou)
  • Rango (John B. Carls, Gore Verbinski)
Winners will be named on January 21 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.