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Entries in Kung Fu Panda (9)

Monday
Apr 04 2016

April Foolish Predix: Best Animated Features

It's past time to begin our annual tradition of predicting the future Oscar nominees way before anyone should (yes,I'm aware that nowadays every clickbait site does it the day after the Oscars but we're not into that.亚博主页Jesus,ppl,let each film year settle!).Let's start with the easiest category in that it's its own world entirely,APP亚博娱乐 .Last year was a relatively thin year for the medium,in that the number of eligible films just barely triggered a 5 wide field.We shouldn't expect a similar dearth this year.

After all 2016's already delivered a possible frontrunner (the delightfulZootopia),a hit that people have already forgotten about (Kung Fu Panda 3...currently #4 of 2016 but have you ever heard anyone talk about it?),trailers to roughly a billion would be cartoon blockbusters scheduled for 2016,and the very tantalizing prospects of an original Disney musical (Moana) and a newLaikafeature (Kubo and the Two Strings).

So who do we think will win the nominations this year?I'm not falling into the trap of assuming Pixar is locked up each year (we sawThe Good Dinosaurgo nowhere,really,in terms of critics and awards enthusiasm) so my big no guts no glory call is that Finding Dory will miss a nomination.Yes,everyone loves Dory andFinding Nemo(2003) but I'm suspicious of a mere fanservice treading of water outing,pun intended,while we wait for a cool original again a laInside Out.It's a strange reversal that Disney has suddenly taken up the "original"baton and Pixar is wasting its time with sequelitis.

What's below the US radar?Generally speaking online punditry seems to forget that the Academy's animation branch rightly takes foreign cartoons seriously when they're making their calls so something smallish and non American always shows up in the final shortlist.This early -- again,way too early -- I'm guessing that'sThe Red Turtle.It's due in September from Wild Bunch and Studio Ghibli and given those two companies it will surely be beautiful.Plus it's wordless which should be interesting.The other film I'd ink in if I was sure it would be released in time isLoving Vincent,an entirely oil painted (!!!) animated biopic of Vincent Van Gogh.

There's a lot to consider out there: martial artist pandas,red turtles,amnesian fish,little princes,secretive pets,pissed off birds,delicious trolls,singing pigs,genius artists,island girls and demigods,police bunnies and more.APP亚博娱乐 and do speak up in the comments.

Thursday
Jan 28 2016

Tim's Toons: A preview of 2016 in animated features

Tim here.Kung Fu Panda 3opens this weekend,and thus begins one of the most crowded years for animated features in living memory (technically,Norm of the Northalready kicked things off two weeks ago,but we're all better off consigning that one to the memory hole).

As a public service,I'd like to offer this highly abbreviated guide to some of the animation that will be coming out in the U.S.over the next 11 months.As with every year,there will of course be a healthy number of foreign imports that we can't predict,and hopefully a little indie or two that nobody has heard about yet;best to think of this,maybe,as a handy field guide to clearing your way through the glut of big-ticket studio films about to reign down upon us all.

Lots more Toonsafter the jump...

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Thursday
Mar 26 2015

The Rise and Fall of DreamWorks Animation,Part 2: Fall

UPDATE 3/29: Well!NowHomehas gone and ruined my entire beautiful narrative arc by wildly outperforming even the most rosily optimistic predictions during its opening weekend,with an estimated $54 million.With that total in its pocket,even under the worst imaginable scenario,it should still glide past $100 million in the United States with ease - $150 mil is certainly in play - and combined with its sterling overseas performance so far,it shouldn't have any problem turning a profit for DreamWorks.The day of reckoning has been put off.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.As DreamWorks's only 2015 release,the studio won't be able to build up any momentum,but it gives the powers that be a good chance to breathe easily and take a good long time to re-work their future plans.Hopefully the right lessons are learned from this ("Non-white girls can sell movies,too") and not the easier wrong ones ("That absolute piece of crap made us money!We don't ever have to try again!),and hopefully it will encourage this and all other animation companies to experiment a little bit more with new properties instead of just retrenching to sequels every time someone says "boo".-Tim

Tim here.Last week,we took a tour through the peak years of DreamWorks Animation,during which time the House That Jeffrey Katzenberg's Hatred of His Old Bosses at Disney Built established itself as the biggest gorilla in American feature animation.And as 2010 dawned,the studio was on the verge of a remarkable achievement.That year,DreamWorks released three feature-length theatrical films – the most any studio had ever produced.It proved to be a great year to do so,an extraordinary year for animation: five of the year's top ten films at both the domestic and worldwide box office were animated,an unmatched record.

That,of course,is exactly the problem.Having perfected a factory for producing animated features that anyone could follow,DreamWorks was as responsible as any studio for the glut of animation that hit in 2009 and has continued largely unabated ever since.By making its products too ubiquitous,the studio was making them routine and increasingly easy to ignore.

Not that it was apparent from the first of the year's releases,How to Train Your Dragon,which netted DreamWorks its best reviews ever and remains its highest-grossing Stateside release without the word "Shrek"in the title.[More...]

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Thursday
Mar 19 2015

The Rise and Fall of DreamWorks Animation,Part 1: Rise

Tim here.It's not often that we come upon a movie which could be even semi-plausibly described as holding the fate of a studio in its hands,but next week we'll have just such a release,as DreamWorks Animation release its 28th feature (31 if you count their collaborations with Aardman),the sci-fi comedyHome.This comes at a perilous time for Dreamworks: after two and a half years of underperformers and outright flops,the company has been forced toslash its staff,write-off costly upcoming projects,andshutter the PDI DreamWorks studio,one of its main production hubs.

What brings a formerly prosperous studio,the biggest name in animation for a little while,just a decade ago,to such a precarious state?This week and next,we're going to try to answer that question with a little history of DreamWorks Animation,its greatest successes and its most sobering failures.

The company began when Steven Spielberg,newly-ousted Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg,and David Geffen joined forces in 1994 to form DreamWorks SKG,an ambitious attempt to create a major movie studio right out of the gate.Katzenberg had been instrumental in overseeing the Disney Renaissance,which had just seen its biggest success in the form ofThe Lion King,and with animation riding high at the box office,it made sense for this new Hollywood megaforce to have a cartoon studio all its own.With Spielberg's Amblimation and the newly-acquired PDI forming the spine of DreamWorks's 2-D and CGI animation divisions,respectively,the company immediately threw itself into competing directly with Disney.

Directlywith Disney.

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Thursday
Feb 19 2015

Tim's Toons: Animated also-rans

Tim here.In hisofficial Oscar predictions today,Nathaniel left out Best Animated Feature,but no matter.By this point,you'd have to hunt a while to find anybody predicting a winner other thanHow to Train Your Dragon 2,with a fewBig Hero 6holdouts just trying to pretend that things will be interesting.(Me,I'm thinking that we're about to see an unexpected explosion of write-in votes to make sure thatMr.Peabody & Shermancan finally get its due).

That level of predictability almost always ends up settling into this particular race (last year was an exception),which can make it hard,sometimes,to recall that the category has had a purpose beyond annually recognizing that yep,Pixar sure does make some pretty fine movies.So instead of prepping for Oscar weekend by celebrating winners,I want to pay tribute to some losers.The beautiful likes ofThe Tale of the Princess KaguyaandSong of the Seaare (probably) about the join the 36 films to have so far been nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar and lost out,and that's some fine company to be in.Here are some of my personal favorites.

The Triplets of Belleville(2003;lost toFinding Nemo)
Even after 11 years,the jazzy "Bellville Rendez-vous"remains one of the most memorable original songs in 21st Century filmmaking (it also lost a competitive Oscar).It's a brilliant component of a movie that I'm generally inclined to regard with fetishistic adoration,and will start recommending to people on even the slightest pretext.Like this one,for example.It's one of the most essential animated features of the last 15 years,easily,combining warped slapstick humor with an elegiac sense of melancholy,expressed in a scratchy graphic style that turns everyone into a grotesque caricature while given all of them full,vibrant personalities.Not bad for a film with less than a dozen spoken words in its entire running time.

Persepolis(2007;lost toRatatouille)
Marjane Satrapi's adaptation of her own graphic novel memoir is a little redundant,perhaps.But taken on its own terms,this story of life during the Iranian Revolution,told in soft lines and crisp black-and-white,is terrific animated cinema both aesthetically and politically.Overtly feminist stories and animation for an appreciative adult audience are both rare,combining them is rarer,and using it all in the service of putting a human face to life in Iran that doesn't pander or beg for special pleading makes this one as bold as any animated film I can ever name.And yet it's so sardonic and brisk that it never feels capital-I Important in a boring way.A total success that deserves infinitely more attention than it's ever received in the U.S.

Kung Fu Panda(2008;lost toWALL·E)
When the firstHow to Train Your Dragoncame out in 2010,it was greeted with critical hosannas as the movie that finally proved that DreamWorks Animation could make a movie that as every bit as good as its best competition.But then,the studio had already proven that with this brightly-colored,poppy tribute to Asian landscape paintings and schlocky '70s kung-fu movies.It's silly as hell,and the jokes have all the smirking anachronism of DreamWorks at its worst.But it's also funny and disarmingly sweet,and the company's fixation on all-celebrity voice casting never worked out as well as it did here,with Jack Black,Angelina Jolie,Dustin Hoffman,and Ian McShane among the many familiar faces we don't see.

The Princess and the Frog(2009;lost toUp)
The financial success of the following year'sTangledimmediately swallowed up the small splash made by Disney's first-ever animated feature centered on an African-American protagonist.And then the behemoth of 2013'sFrozenleft it almost totally forgotten as the first attempt in a generation to make a classic Disney Princess musical.Neither of which is at all a fair fate for an earnest attempt at correcting the company's long history of representational yuckiness with a warm suite of Randy Newman songs,top-notch voice acting,and beautifully old-school 2-D animation.It's a sop to the studio's fans,sure,but as a fan,I am greatly pleased to have it in my life even now,far more than either of its bigger successors.

What are your favorite nominees to have missed on on the Best Animated Feature Oscar?

Wednesday
Feb 22 2012

Animated Weekend: Two Cats,Multiple Movie Homages

Josehere.

Last weekend I decided to catch up with some Oscar nominated films and realized I was doing terribly in the Animated Feature department having only seenRangowhen it came out last year.Back in December after watchingArthur ChristmasandThe Adventures of TintinI was sure I'd done my homework,as those were the nominees we were all expecting.However clever old AMPAS sneaked up on us delivering the weirdest lineup the category has seen in its young history.Not being a fan of Dreamworks animation,at all,I decided I might as well just get done with it and saw the 4 movies back to back.

I kept a journal to accompany me down this trip.

This is how it went...

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