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Thursday, December 14, 2017


A still from Breadwinner Animated Feature Film Image credits: Rotten Tomatoes

The announcement of the nominations for the 75 Golden Globes Awards hit the airwaves and cyberspace on Monday 11th of December and as usual, film buffs all over the world had a thing or two or maybe three to say about the list of films.
The Golden Globes Awards held annually in January, kicks off the international award season and it honours the best in film and American television of 2017.Come January 7, 2018, it will take place at The Beverley Hilton in Beverley Hills, California. Film aficionados worldwide posit it sets the tone for the Academy Awards popularly known as the OSCARS. Most times, chances are that films nominated at Golden Globes, make the OSCARS nomination list as well. From my little observation,this rings true most times. I normally keep my antennae up for the Best Animated Feature Film category since it is a genre I am most interested in, and where I have had my screenwriting, producer and directorial debut. 
This separate category for animation was established in 2007 and in its tradition, there are 5 films on the nomination list. The PIXAR film CARS was the first recipient of this award and the studio has dominated the category since inception. Hoping other studios stand a chance as well and I wonder how they whittle down the submissions. Here is a look at the 5 films nominated. 

FERDINAND Christmas Poster Image credits: Rotten Tomatoes

This film hits the cinemas tomorrow 15th December.It has nominations for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song for “Home” by Nick Jonas, Justin Tranter and Nick Monson.

FERDINAND tells the story of a giant bull with a big heart. After being mistaken for a dangerous beast, he is captured and torn from his home. Determined to return to his family, he rallies a misfit team on the ultimate adventure. Set in Spain, Ferdinand proves you cannot judge a bull by its cover. From Blue Sky Studios and Carlos Saldanha, the director of Rio and inspired by the beloved book "The Story of Ferdinand" by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson,FERDINAND is a heartwarming animated comedy adventure with an all-star cast that includes John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Gina Rodriguez, Anthony Anderson and many more.

Stills from FERDINAND Image Credits: Rotten Tomatoes

Rating: PG (for rude humor, action and some thematic elements)
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Drama
Directed By: Carlos Saldanha
In Theaters: Dec 15, 2017
Studio: Blue Sky Studio/20th Century Fox

Miguel in COCO Image credits: Rotten Tomatoes

COCO hit the cinemas on the 22nd of November which interestingly,is the feast of St. Cecilia the patroness of musicians in addition to being the Thanksgiving celebrations in the United States. It has nominations for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song for “Remember Me” by the award winning power couple—Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (the "Let it Go" Disney Frozen folks) 

Despite his family's baffling generations old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel's family history.Several film critics have praised its stunning animation and opined that Pixar has been restored to its lost glory with this film. From Rotten Tomatoes where it has a 97% rating, I got some top critics’ impressions shared below:

Stills from COCO Image Credits: Rotten Tomatoes
Matthew Lickona San Diego Reader
“Of every Pixar film that deals with family, memory and loss, ask, "Is there sufficient reason for the tears that will inevitably run down my face by the end?" Yes, thanks in no small part to the ingenious use of De La Cruz's hit song, "Remember Me."

Kate Taylor Globe and Mail
“None of Coco's few flaws can fatally undermine the film because it is, most of all, a smart and enduring piece of storytelling with a satisfyingly twisting narrative and richly complex theme.”

Ben Sachs Chicago Reader
“This engaging Pixar animation plays magnificently with elements of Mexican folklore and fine art.”

Peter Rainer Christian Science Monitor
“Pixar rebounds nicely with Coco, a big, spangly animated fiesta with its fair share of "heart."

Claudia Puig Remezcla
“Enchanting and Dazzling, Coco is a resplendent love letter to Mexico.

Susan Granger SSG Syndicate
"Poignant fantasy that faithfully depicts Mexican culture and celebrates the Hispanic customs and folklore of Dia de los Muertos - while strumming the heartstrings.” 

Robert Kodjer Flickering Myth
“Coco is dealing with life and death in ways that will genuinely move just about anyone that watches it.”

Rating: PG (for thematic elements)
Genre: Action & Adventure, Animation, Comedy
Directed By: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina
Written By: Matthew Aldrich Adrian Molina
In Theaters: Nov 22, 2017 Wide
Studio: Disney/Pixar

BOSS BABY and his parents Image Credits: Rotten Tomatoes
Nominated in the Best Animated Feature category, it seems to have got quite a number of film critics upset. I need to ask children what how they found it. After all, it was made for them and the whole family.

The BOSS BABY is a hilariously universal story about how a new baby's arrival impacts a family, told from the point of view of a delightfully unreliable narrator, a wildly imaginative 7 year old named Tim. With a sly, heart-filled message about the importance of family, DreamWorks' The BOSS BABY  is an authentic and broadly appealing original comedy for all ages.
DreamWorks Animation and the director of Madagascar invite you to meet a most unusual baby. He wears a suit, speaks with the voice and wit of Alec Baldwin.
On Rotten Tomatoes, critics and audience scores were 51% and 52% respectively. Below are some impressions shared by top critics: 

Stills from BOSS BABY Image credits: Rotten Tomatoes

Matthew Lickona San Diego Reader
“I could have done without the kewpie-doll faces and oversized eyes, but for the most part and where it counts, The BOSS BABY gets its kids just right.”

John Semley Globe and Mail
“It's the rare cartoon that actually feels like a cartoon, propelled by its goofiness and sheer energy and rarely bogged down by boring, polemical lesson-learning.”

Rating: PG (for some mild rude humor)
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Kids & Family
Directed By: Tom McGrath
Written By: Michael McCullers
In Theaters: Mar 31, 2017  Wide
On Disc/Streaming: Jul 25, 2017
Box Office: $174,996,080
Runtime: 97 minutes
Studio:DreamWorks Animation

Parvarna in Breadwinner Image credits: Rotten Tomatoes

It is great that there is still room for 2D animation as I am a great fan of traditional animation which many animators are leaving behind in favour of 3D animation. Breadwinner makes the cut for Best Animated Feature and this is no surprise. It always gladdens my heart when I see nominations for productions from studios that are not the usual big ones. Do they ever get to win? That is another question. Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon has 2 Oscar nominations for their first two features The Secret of Kells(2009) and Song of the Sea(2014). Not bad and I like the fact that their latest production is not your usual fairy tale, legend or some highly imaginatively cooked up piece. This is a hard and real story about problems we are faced with in the world. The creators adapted Deborah Ellis’ best-selling 2000 novel set in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. I don’t think it got released in my countries like the other big studio films. I am sure this is due in part to its sensitive nature and surely, the producers might not have the financial muscles like those of the big studios. I hope it goes to international film festivals in countries where it didn’t get a cinema release.

Parvana is an 11-year-old girl growing up under the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001. When her father is wrongfully arrested, Parvana cuts off her hair and dresses like a boy(similar to the legend of Mulan) in order to support her family. Working alongside her friend Shauzia, Parvana discovers a new world of freedom-and danger. With undaunted courage, Parvana draws strength from the fantastical stories she invents, as she embarks on a quest to find her father and reunite her family.
On the Rotten Tomatoes, It had 92% and 92% for Critics and Audience scores respectively. Find some mini reviews below:

                                                  The Breadwinner trailer
Stills from Breadwinner Image credits: Rotten Tomatoes
 Barbara VanDenburgh Arizona Republic
“The animation is expressive, as lush and detailed as tapestry. Harsh landscapes shimmer with beauty, even when littered with bones of landmines and abandoned tanks.”

Josh Bell Las Vegas Weekly
“The filmmakers know when to pull back and lighten the mood, and the hand-drawn animation is always lovely and expressive.”

Eli Fine The Young Folks
The Breadwinner is brilliant and genuinely courageous filmmaking, and it deserves to be celebrated. It should be taught in public schools.

Jennie Kermode Eye For Film
“Intelligent,humane and multi-layered, the Breadwinner is a much more substantial film than its central heroic narrative might suggest.”

Brian Ornadorf
“The Breadwinner is a magnificent film, one of the best animated efforts of 2017, remaining unforgettable in style and storytelling.”

Rating: PG-13 (for thematic material including some violent images)
Genre: Animation, Drama, Kids & Family
Directed By: Nora Twomey
Written By: Anita Doron
In Theaters: Nov 17, 2017 Limited
Box Office: $17,395
Runtime: 93 minutes

This film really excites me and I think it will excite any painter and some filmmakers and I am both. It is the first feature length ‘fully painted’ animated film ever meaning this feat should also enter the Guinness book of World Records. Not just for the history books but it is also a visual fest and wonder and many are looking artists forward to its Nigerian release. I really want this film to win Best Animated Feature Awards at all the prestigious film award schemes. Why? All animation takes time and from their end credits, it shows it literally takes a whole village to work on these films but Loving Vincent did that and more. About 125 international painters created about 1,500 paintings that were used for the 65,000 frames of the movie with each painted at mainly 12 frames-per-second. They re-imagined 94 of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings across his different styles and techniques. It took 6 years to produce and had its first screening at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France where it won the Audience Choice Awards. The directors had to wait for thunderous 12 minutes, non-stop applause and standing ovation before making their acceptance speech. I have talked about this film earlier on this blog. 
Loving Vincent explores the life and unusual death of Vincent Van Gogh through his artworks and it is directed and written by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film scored an aggregated 82% and 89% from film critics and audience respectively. 

Stills from Loving Vincent Image credits: Loving Vincent Instagram
Alexandra MacAaron Women's Voices for Change
“From $3 refrigerator magnets to Louis Vuitton's $4,000 purse, Van Gogh's iconic images are ubiquitous today. In fact, they are so familiar that it's hard to believe he sold only one single painting in his short and tortured life.”

Matthew Lickona San Diego Reader
There's lots of love (and loveliness) on display here: the color paintings are rendered after the manner of the modern master, and there's a stubborn refusal to either glamorize a suffering soul or demonize those who may have helped to seal his fate.
Tim Brayton Alternate Ending
The most beautiful and most impressively hand-made achievement in animation (which arguably makes it the most beautiful film of any sort) in 2017.

Rober Kojder Flickering Myth
Loving Vincent is the definition of a one-of-a-kind animated feature, and a competently crafted untangling of the mysteries surrounding the death of Vincent van Gogh that also celebrates his life work.

Mark Sommer Buffalo News
It's so resplendent with rich colors and textured and vibrant brush strokes that at times it overwhelms the film's narrative, which concerns the troubled artist's death in 1890. 
Bob Bloom Journal and Courier
The film is a labor of love for its creators, a tribute to an artist who was neither appreciated nor understood until after he was gone.

Rating: PG-13 (for mature thematic elements, some violence, sexual material and smoking)
Genre:Animation, Drama
Directed By: Dorota Kobiela
Written By: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Jacek Dehnel
In Theaters: Sep 22, 2017  limited
On Disc/Streaming: Jan 16, 2018
Box Office: $4,641,218
Studio: Good Deed Entertainment 

So which of these 5 films takes home the awards at the wee hours of 8th January, 2018? Walt Disney's Zootopia took it home this year. Let's wait and see!

The Golden Globe Award