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Furry Movie Award Watch: April 2013

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Sorry for the delay, folks; I know all five of my regular readers were on pins and needles (hi, mom!). See, GreenReaper emailed to tell me that Fred had linked back to my Cinderella review on the new Cartoon Research site, and just like the time he emailed me about some video game site which quoted my Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 review, my computer died. Obviously, there's some connection here. Anyway, it's all their fault. Shame on you guys.

Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Annie Award for Best Animated Feature Ursa Major Award for Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture
Winner Frozen Frozen Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Nominees Epic
Ernest and Celestine
Monster University
The Wind is Rising
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
The Croods
Epic
Ernest and Celestine
Monster University
Turbo
The Wind is Rising
N/A

It’s time to take a look at what's coming out (and in a few cases, already come out) this year that may be in play at the Annies, the Oscars and the Ursa Majors. I've divided the list into three sections; the first features movies that should be eligible for all three awards (whether they have a chance at them or not), followed by live-action movies that feature furry characters and might be considered for the Ursa Major, and finally animated movies that don't feature furries (as far as can be ascertained at this stage). Keep in mind, this is a preliminary list; some movies could sneak in (for instance, if I hadn't been delayed, My Little Pony: Equestria Girls wouldn't have made the list) and some may move to 2014.

Furry Animated Movies for 2013

EpicMy Little Pony: Equestria Girls

Epic, while not, apparently, featuring lead furry characters, will feature a supporting cast of anthropomorphic creatures. At this point, the furry cupboard looks pretty bare, so if I had to put up an early guess as to what we'll all be voting for in the Ursa Majors next year, I'd say this is a definite nominee, for lack of other compelling choice, at least.

As for the animation awards covered by this column, Blue Sky has only been to the Oscars once, back when the first Ice Age was a genuine contender. Since those days, Blue Sky has mostly put out, well, Ice Age sequels, but the quality of its animation has definitely improved. It needs a bit more storytelling polish, but year before last's Rio was a good try; Epic seems to be Blue Sky's attempt at animated Oscar fare. I think this year it's a good bet that Blue Sky will finally become a two Oscar nominee studio; a win is not out of the question (a lot of the powerhouses look weak this year), but I'm not counting on it.

Ernest and Celestine

A nice, sweet looking foreign movie being brought to America by our friends at GKIDS. Will this be the year furries finally let a littler movie (besides Bitter Lake, which wasn't so much "little" as "microscopic") into the nominee list? Yeah, right.

Last year, GKIDS brought four movies to the table and quite a few foreign films also made themselves available for the Academy (seriously, they just kind of popped out of the woodwork in the end), in hopes that a few might gain a nomination and enough interest to start up an actual theatrical (if limited) release sometime this year. A few movies have been positioned similarly in the past; GKIDS seems to excel at this strategy. Unfortunately, none of the slew of littler movies were allowed in; I have a feeling we won't see quite so many try out this year.

Free Birds

This is a vague movie that will come out in November and it’s about turkeys. Beyond those two details and a vague idea of the plot (something about time traveling and stopping Thanksgiving from happening), I don't have much to go on. The studio is pretty much a first time player, so that's a crapshoot, too. Shrug and say maybe an Ursa Major Award nomination for lack of anything else (I sense a theme here).

My Little Pony: Equestria Girls

Well, when I said I expected to be reviewing a My Little Pony movie soon, this is not what I was expecting. I almost put this movie in the "animated but not furry" category; apparently, the beginning of the movie does involve actual ponies (something you'd expect from a movie with the word "pony" in it); then Twilight Sparkle is transformed into a freaky purple teenage schoolgirl and the movie turns from funny animal into high school drama. Abrupt genre change there. Have no idea how this is going to play for the furry crowd; right now, it could win the Ursa Major. You guys did vote for Avatar, after all.

I have a better handle on how the awards crowds will take it; this a no for both awards, but for different reasons. The Academy will say no for the obvious reasons; it's a continuation of a TV show that is specifically about selling dolls to little girls (even more so than normal, here). Meanwhile, the Annies, who are a bit more open to TV shows (they give awards to those too, remember), will ignore it for the same reason My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was ignored this year at the Annies; it's a Flash animation. It's neither traditional animation, nor CGI.

This movie has to be a box office bonanza, critical darling and pop culture touchstone to have a chance; the surprising thing is, given the show's history, I can't rule that out. I also can't rule out a complete, embarrassing flop, either. I'm guessing it breaks even at the box office but suffers a critical spanking; it's probably the cinematic non-event of the summer.

Turbo

The second of the dueling anthropomorphic gastropod movies coming out this year, DreamWorks Animation seems to have a lot more confidence in Turbo than, well, pretty much everyone. It's a movie about a mutant NASCAR snail. Okay. Look, the problem is this movie just sounds stupid. Maybe it's stupid like a fox, but I'm betting it's stupid like a movie about a mutant NASCAR snail. So, Ursa Major nominee for lack of anything else, again, and that's about it.

DreamWorks, however, really, really thinks, for super serious, guys, that this snail has legs. So to speak. They've got a TV series ready to go (watch this movie flop at the box office), so expect a big push at the Annies, and since the DreamWorks "prestige" pic is not looking so good for the Oscar, well, this is about their only horse in that race. Except their horse is a snail.

Furry, but Not Animated Movies for 2013The ABCs of Death

The ABCs of Death

This bizarre horror anthology includes 26 short films, each featuring death by a different letter of the alphabet. By that, I mean the first film is "A is for Apocalypse" followed by "B is for Bigfoot," not that the letter K goes crazy and starts killing people in one film and the letter Z falls on some poor dude's head in another. No, F is not for "furry" (it's, uh, for "fart," actually), but "H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion" features anthropomorphic characters. The bulldog looks pretty good as just an image, but the vixen has to be seen in motion to really get the idea.

I really don't see this as a major player in the Ursa Majors (oh, it'll totally win Best Picture, though. Totally.), but I'll list it for sake of completeness. Maybe the furry segment can be nominated separately from the rest of the movie in the Dramatic Short Work or Series category?

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The second movie in The Hobbit trilogy (I’m still unconvinced we needed three), this one will be a bit furrier. It has been confirmed that sorta were-bear Beorn will not go the way of Tom Bombadil – and Smaug, a talking dragon, made the title. So, I almost wonder if it is the go to live action pick for the Ursa Majors.

The fact that An Unexpected Journey failed to win a single Oscar, and wasn’t even really a major contender for the unused tenth spot, suggests strongly this is not a big player for non-furry awards, either.

Oz the Great and Powerful

Apparently, this movie features a talking flying monkey in a key supporting role. Actually, I totally should have gone to see it, and maybe even reviewed it for Flayrah, but I honestly couldn't bring myself to care that much about it. It's a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, which didn't exactly make my most-wanted list of movies to see a prequel to. Admittedly, that list would consist entirely of a little film trilogy known as I Hate Prequels: I Hate Prequels: Stop Making Them, I Am More Interested In What Happens Next and Seriously, It's Called a Flashback Sequence.

You never heard of those? You should check them out some time.

That said, not everyone shares my passionate hatred of prequels – and, to be fair, decent ones have been made. None spring to mind, but this particular prequel may just fit the bill for the apparently mandatory Ursa Major live action nominee.

Animated but Not Furry Movies for 2013Planes

The Croods

Despite being about a million times better than DreamWorks Animation’s last movie, The Croods managed to have a worse critical reception. I thought it was pretty decent, but hovering just above rotten on the Tomatometer means that it is probably, once again, not DreamWorks’ year.

Fred estimated it at about five percent furry – which makes it about a million times furrier than 2009’s Ursa Major winner – but his short article’s glowing reception makes me think we won’t be seeing it on this year’s ballot.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

A sequel to a movie that didn’t garner a nomination the first time around. The animation in its trailer also doesn’t strike me as spectacular. I’m going to have to give this one a pass.

Despicable Me 2

The sequel to one of two movies that are often considered The Dark Knight of the Best Animated Feature category; their inability to gain a nomination in 2010 led to a new rule allowing a four nominee slate in 2011. This rule hasn’t come into play yet, but it’s nice to know it’s there.

Still, the only fully animated movie the studio has put out since then is the not-exactly-beloved Lorax, so they’ve probably lost any “due” factor. Sequels are often a hard sell at the Oscars, especially when the first wasn’t even a nominee. Besides, if the four nominee rule had been in play in 2010, it probably would have gone to Tangled first.

Escape from Planet Earth

One of these days, Harvey Weinstein is going to get his hands on something worthwhile, and then not even Pixar studios presents a film by Hayao Miyazaki: The Animated Holocaust Movie can stop him from winning Best Animated Feature. Right now, however, The Weinstein Company animation seems content to … exist mostly. Not a player.

Frozen

This is my current pick for the winner for the Best Animated Feature, if only because Pixar is rolling with another sequel this year.
There’s not much to go on at this point, but Walt Disney studios has to win this award eventually, right?

Monsters University

Well, never count Pixar out; last year they won the Oscar with a movie that probably shouldn’t have been nominated. This might be the year they finally return to critical love; I don’t see why not. This isn’t a sequel to Cars, and it hasn’t had the stupid behind the scenes drama of Brave.

However, it is a sequel (well, prequel) to Monsters Inc., the only Pixar movie besides the aforementioned Cars to lose; no sequel to a movie that didn’t win the first time has won. Pixar is the only studio so far to win with a sequel, but that was kind of a special case; the first two movies were released before the award was available. That sequel was also Best Picture nominee Toy Story 3, so that’s only kind of a special case.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this movie. I’m not counting it as a furry movie, but it still a decent contender for nominee, at least, at the Ursa Majors. It has enough goofy cartoon creatures to satisfy most furry fans.

Planes

A direct-to-video movie that Disney apparently found the confidence in to give it a theatrical release; box office confidence, though – I doubt this is an awards play. Hey, it could easily manage to be the best movie in the Cars franchise!

The Wind is Rising

Studio Ghibli teams with GKIDS for Hayao Miyazaki; if they can get the movie to American theaters quick enough to keep it from being disqualified, it should be a slam dunk for an Oscar nomination. Unless Miyazaki decided to direct a movie about problematic subject matter, like, say, the designer of Japan’s warplanes during WWII. Oh, wait, he did that? Uh, maybe not such a slam dunk, then.

Comments

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Every time I see the title “The Wind is Rising”, I think of the s-f short story “A Wind is Rising”, by Robert Sheckley under his Finn O’Donnevan pen name, in Galaxy Science Fiction, July 1957.

This reminisce has absolutely nothing to do with Furry fiction. Skip it if you want.

Around 1975 or ’76, I was talking with Dan O’Bannon, who was one of the USC film students who had made and played in John Carpenter’s s-f black comedy live-action feature, “Dark Star”. He played Sgt. Pinback, the comedy-relief character who was outsmarted by the alien animal called the Beachball because it looked like a beachball. O’Bannon said that was because it was; a beachball on the flipper-feet from “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”. This was just before O’Bannon went on to his professional movie career, as a writer for “Alien”, “Invaders from Mars”, “Total Recall”, and other s-f and horror movies.

I got the definite feeling that O’Bannon’s real character was not far removed from the dimwitted klutz that he played in “Dark Star”.

Anyhow, he invited me up to his apartment which was still in the USC neighborhood then, to see some of the other film projects that he was working on or had created for his film classes. They were pretty impressive, but the one that I was impressed by the most was a complete storyboard breakdown for Sheckley’s “A Wind is Rising”. I was a big Sheckley fan at this time, and I felt that O’Bannon’s treatment had improved the story. I goshwowed about how good I thought it was, and O’Bannon said that it was just a minor idea he’d had in film class one day.

“Er, no”, I said. “I recognize this. It’s a short story by Robert Sheckley. I’m a big fan of his.”

“Well, I might have gotten the basic idea from some old s-f magazine, but my development of it is totally mine."

“But it isn’t! ‘A Wind is Rising’ has been reprinted three of four times, and I’ve read it each time. This is a point by point breakdown of the story. The only thing that you’ve done is to transpose the important third-person narration into conversation between the two humans – excellently, but it’s just as Sheckley has it!”

“No, it was just an old story that I came across in an old s-f magazine. It would be totally forgotten if I hadn’t seen it, so all of the author credit is mine.”

I could see that further argument would be futile, so I gave up at that point. But believe me, if that film treatment had ever gotten made without acknowledging Sheckley as the author, there would have been a LOT of viewer corrections.

Fred Patten

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I'm sorry, I got to "I was talking with Dan O'Bannon" and just had to reply that my mind just kind of freaked out for a second.

I feel like the geek agent in Paul who gets excited to meet two guys who have met Adam Shadowchild right now. O'Bannon kind of even reminds me of the Shadowchild character.

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Dan O'Bannon was a funny one: he had a lot to do with Alien but when a later writer added the character of the traitorous android Ash, O'Bannon thought his script had been ruined.

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Well, Epic is probably a no-show at the Oscars and Annies, joining The Croods at just barely outrunning a rotten rating on RottenTomatoes (and it's just the opening weekend; it could, still, theoretically take in a few more that could push it all the way).

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The first-look trailer for Frozen (mentioned above) has been released:

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Grump! I submitted a news article about "Frozen" with this yesterday -- Tuesday the 18th, at 0:128 -- but it hasn't been posted yet.

Fred Patten

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I Loved this. The suspense,... OH the suspense, edge of your seat suspense. The snowman upon seeing the reindeer head of him signed thinking that was the end of his nose not knowing that the reindeer has every intent to give the nose back to the snowman. The snow man did not have a clue as to the unselfish intent of that reindeer. This is well done. The mind of Christ is seen. A joyous spirit is seen in that reindeer. The snow man accepting what he thought was the end of his nose shows the longsuffering characteristic of Christ too.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

This is funny.

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About the author

crossaffliction (Brendan Kachel)read storiescontact (login required)

a reporter and Red Fox from Hooker, Oklahoma, interested in movies, horror, stand up comedy

Formerly Wichita's only furry comic.