Saturday, March 04, 2006

Oscar Prognostications

I'm going to go way out on a limb here and predict 'Curse of the Were-Rabbit' will take home the statuette tomorrow. Not only did the film sweep the Annies, and just about every other award, but Wallace & Gromit have already won two Oscars (short films), and Nick Park has won 3 for his 4 previous nominations. Personally (sacrilege alert) I thought 'W&G:CotWR' didn't have the concentrated goodness of either 'Wrong Trousers' or 'Close Shave.' It felt a little padded to me. And maybe the stakes weren't high enough -- the malevolent pooch in 'Close Shave' and the diabolical penguin in 'Wrong Trousers' made for more dramatic contrast with our reserved heroes. Still, it's an extremely well made film with Academy-favorite characters by an Academy-favorite director. It seems a cinch. 'Howl's Moving Castle' is a fine film, but does it really have anything that we haven't see several times before from our favorite animation genius? (sacrilege alert #2) And is anyone else tired of mediocre and flat character animation in these otherwise fantastic films? Yes, yes, I know, Japan has different standards for animation, and yes, the character animation at times is inspired (like the sisters in 'My Neighbor Totoro) -- weightless, but still spot-on and inspired. But generally the only characters that are animated in an interesting way are those that are treated as effects, like the forest gods in 'Mononoke,' or the supernatural characters in any of the other films. Anyway, Miyazaki won last year for the much better 'Spirited Away,' and I don't see 'Howl's' repeating that triumph. 'Corpse Bride' is a real step forward in stop-motion animation, and is another beautifully made film, but I have yet to meet anyone who was grabbed by the story. The film is appreciated, but not loved. Tim Burton has Academy cred, but this film isn't up to 'Nightmare,' and it's only the second best stop-motion film of the year. As for the shorts, I'm not even going to try. I've only seen two, and I wasn't that impressed by either one. A couple of years ago I got a call from an Australian reporter who was looking for quotes for an article on an Aussie nominee in the shorts category. That year, thanks to DreamWorks, I'd seen them all, and I confidently told him that 'Harvie Krumpet' had zero chance against the Dali/Disney combo 'Destino' or the Pixar short 'Boundin.' What a genius I am, right?


Site Meter