As you are well aware by now, the nominations for the 84th Academy Awards were announced yesterday and it would probably be an understatement to say that there were… a few unexpected nods and snubs. Every year everybody who loves movies has a particular horse in the race that probably doesn’t make the cut, but it’s probably safe to say War Horse was never going to be one of those. Yet here we are. The Best Picture category is all kinds of FUBAR’d besides that, but it almost always is, as Dustin also pointed out.
So you’ll pardon me if I think the biggest surprise of all was in the Best Animated Feature category, which usually manages to separate the wheat from the chaff — or, well, the Pixar from pretty much everything else. That happened again this year, but not in the expected ways. While Cars 2 rightly didn’t get nominated, no matter how much John Lasseter would argue otherwise, there’s a pretty good reason why people are scratching their heads about the lack of The Adventures of Tintin while Kung Fu Panda 2 sits there rubbing its not-even-as-good-as-the-first-one-that-deservedly-didn’t-win-either belly. But I think it’s safe to say that the inclusion of the extremely unknown foreign films A Cat In Paris and Chico & Rita shocked everyone. Except, obviously, the people who saw them.
Which isn’t me, as neither has actually yet to be released stateside, yet (as far as I could find), but the trailers for each have surfaced online after their nominations and I think I get why they’re there. A Cat In Paris looks like an emotionally affecting journey of a little girl overcoming the death of her father with the help of her exceptionally aware feline friend. It reminds me of The Triplets of Belleville, but that may just be because both are French and whimsicalicious. Chico & Rita, on the other hand, looks like a decidedly more mature (there’s nudity) and lyrical (there’s also jazz) take on a love story set amidst social and cultural upheaval. It reminds me why I still love traditional, hand-drawn animation despite the over saturation of CGI that’s probably here to stay.
Below I’ve included the trailers and synopses for each movie, and I think you’ll agree that even without seeing them, they probably deserve to be nominated for Oscars. Especially in a year when the Best Picture category is filled to the brim with barely digested tripe. See what you make of them…
“Dino is a cat that leads a double life. By day, he lives with Zoe, a little girl whose mother, Jeanne, is a police officer. By night, he works with Nico, a burglar with a big heart. Zoe has plunged herself into silence following her father’s murder at the hands of gangster Costa. One day, Dino the cat brings Zoe a very valuable bracelet. Lucas, Jeanne’s second-in-command, notices this bracelet is part of a jewelery collection that has been stolen. One night, Zoe decides to follow Dino. On the way, she overhears some gangsters and discovers that her nanny is part of the gangsters’ team.”(Thanks, Anonymous on IMDB!)
“Cuba, 1948. Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and desire unite them as they chase their dreams and each other from Havana to New York to Paris, Hollywood and Las Vegas. With an original soundtrack by legendary Cuban pianist and five-time Grammy-winning composer Bebo Valdés, Chico & Rita captures a defining moment in the evolution of history and jazz, and features the music of (and animated cameos by) Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Cole Porter, Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Tito Puente, Chano Pozo, and others.”
Not too shabby, eh? Maybe the Academy did something right this year. Even if neither wins, we’d likely have never heard of them otherwise. Too bad they shanked the rest of the field.
Rob Payne also writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter @RobOfWar, and his ware can be purchased here (if you’re into that sort of thing). He usually follows the Animated category closer than he does the others, besides Screenwriting, because those members tend to get it right more often that not.