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Furry Movie Award Watch: September 2013

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Well, enough of the doom and gloom, it’s a brand-new, shiny awards season. This month, let’s look at how the race is shaping up at the Oscars. Maybe we’ll even spare a thought for the Annies.

crossie’s Current Best Guesses

Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Annie Award for Best Animated Feature Ursa Major Award for Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture
Winner The Wind Rises The Wind Rises Monsters University
Nominees The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
Monsters University
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
The Croods
Epic
Ernest & Celestine
Free Birds
Frozen
Monsters University
Epic
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
My Little Pony: Equestria Girls
Turbo

New rules for the Oscars

The Academy has recently announced that they have revamped the rules for the nomination process a bit. Previously, the nominees for Best Animated Feature were voted on by Academy members who had seen most (80%, or 17 movies last year) of the submissions for the award either in a theater during its theatrical run or in a special screening by the Academy. In other words, they had to prove they had seen most of the movies they were voting for, and that they had seen them theatrically.

This year, however, the second part has been dropped; Academy members can vote for the nominees in the Best Animated Feature category if they have watched the movies submitted on screeners; basically copies of the movies they can watch at home (they can’t go out and buy or rent a copy and have that count; it has to be provided to them as a screener, making it a bit easier to verify the member at least got the opportunity to watch it, though this does use the honor system a bit more than the old system). They also only have to see 66% of the movies now.

The obvious take away is that more Academy members will qualify to vote for the nomination of the Best Animated Feature; it’s unclear if this will affect the outcome in any significant way. There is a possibility that the bigger studios will have a bigger advantage with the lower percentage, as Academy members are naturally more likely to see the movies with the big campaigns first; however, the fact that the members no longer have to see everything theatrically (and a lot of the smaller movies are only in theaters for a week in one location plus the handful of Academy screenings) may give the smaller movies a plus. So, I’d say it’s pretty much a wash, and keep expecting a nice mixture of big, brand name studios and little foreign and independent surprises in the category.

Speaking of the big, brand name studios…

This year, as I went on about last time around, is incredibly weak in the big, brand name studio side of the equations. The Croods was a box office success for DreamWorks, if not a critical, while Turbo was a failure on both counts.

Reigning champs Pixar put out a sequel to one of the few movies of theirs that didn’t win the first time; it also didn’t exactly light the critics up like their halcyon days. Though it probably won’t matter this race, Pixar is fast getting a reputation for troubled production; the removal of Bob Peterson from The Good Dinosaur (causing it to be bumped to 2015) makes it the fourth Pixar movie in a row to be completed by a different director than the one that started it. If they keep this up, there’ll be a backlash.

I suppose you can’t judge a movie by its trailer, but the reaction to Disney’s’s first Frozen trailer wasn’t exactly pretty. Of course, I might be biased by the fact that I viewed the second trailer for Frozen embedded in an article explaining why the trailer doesn’t bode well for the movie, but the second trailer wasn’t a great improvement. Right now, we’re talking about Despicable Me 2 as a genuine contender for nomination. That’s not a good sign.

A biopic to win an Oscar? Who’da thunk it?

I said earlier that Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises is a problematic proposition, what with it being an animated biopic about the guy who designed Japan’s WWII warplanes. However, it’s gone on to gain pretty good reviews, and it has done pretty well in the festivals it’s played in, so it may make it. Plus, this is supposed to be Miyazaki’s swan song; he’s going into retirement after this. I’m guessing he’ll join Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton in the double Best Animated Feature Oscar club next March.

Maybe he’ll even show up this time. Perhaps most telling is that Studio Ghibli is not waiting around for Disney to dub it; this is the first time they’re submitting the movie in Japanese. They sense weakness in the field, and they’re going for it. Well, good for them.

If anything, it will surely win the Annie; recently, the Annies and the Oscars have rarely agreed, and I must say, when they don’t, the Annies always get my vote. The only Oscar/Annie split I’m not nodding my head in agreement with is Cars over Happy Feet, but only because I can’t make myself care enough about either movie to have an opinion. Meanwhile, the Oscars are going to have to work a little after last year.

What I'm saying is The Wind Rises should probably win the Oscar at this point, but if Monsters University wins, I’ll roll my eyes, mutter “figures” under my breath and be really, really disappointed, but not particularly surprised.

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EXTRA BONUS POINTS NON-FURRY CONTENT COMMENT: CROSSIE BRIEFLY REVIEWS LAST YEAR'S BEST PICTURE NOMINEES

Well, I managed to finally rent a copy of Amour, so I've seen all nine Best Picture nominees from the 85th Oscars. To put it bluntly, they whooped the ever-loving crap out of the 84th nominees; the most memorable thing about Moneyball, for instance, was Jonah Hill reminding God it existed it in This Is the End. I would like to apologize to The Artist, however; last year I said it wasn't worth rewatching, but then suddenly found myself really wanting to rewatch it this year. Anyway, in alphabetical order:

Amour
Probably my least favorite of the movies, but I freely admit to this being genre bias; it's the only foreign language film to make it ever since the category expanded, which is actually a bit sad. That's not my bias; no, it's also the artiest of the nominees (it is French, after all), and I'm lower-middle brow. At best.

It's also a movie very much about the trials and tribulations of the elderly; the truth is, I'm just not the audience for this movie. That being said, I don't hate this movie, and I had no problem watching it; it's not like I was fidgeting, waiting for the two main characters to just die already (not a spoiler, as the first scene reveals the ending, so no bitching). I was engrossed; it was just as soon as it was over, I realized I still had surprisingly little idea what I had just watched.
Nominations: Actress in a Leading Role (Emmanuelle Riva), Directing (Michael Haneke), Writing (Original Screenplay)
Wins: Foreign Language Film

Argo
I must say, before I watched and didn't understand Amour, Argo, despite winning Best Picture, was really my least favorite of the nominees. That being said, I had no problem with it winning Best Picture; the story of Ben Affleck's comeback was a great story in and of itself, and the guy is actually a decent director. He just should have maybe won for The Town instead. Also, it's not like I don't like this movie; it's a fine movie. It's just the least fine movie in a great year.

An interesting thing to point out is that spies were good guys this year, after all that Bourne crap; two movies featured heroic CIA agents. I repeat, CIA agents. Those guys are baddies even when America is the good guy! Oh, and Mi6 was all but literally put on trial in Skyfall and was acquitted, while we were led to believe one of the many Mi6 characters was a traitor, when, in a surprise twist ending, they all turned out to be ... good guys. All of 'em, bless their British hearts.

Also, I'm just going to go off topic and say that I'm not worried about Ben Affleck ruining Batman; at this point, I think the onus is on Batman to not ruin Ben Affleck. Over protective Batman fanboys can Argo fuck themselves. And I spent more time talking about Bond and Batman than Argo, but whatever.
Nominations: Actor in a Supporting Role (Alan Arkin), Music (Original Score), Sound Editing, Sound Mixing
Wins: Film Editing, Best Picture, Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Beasts of the Southern Wild
I was kind of disappointed when this movie got the nod, since it was either it or Moonrise Kingdom vying for the "little independent picture" spot, but oh, well. It's still a really good movie, and it features giant pig monsters called aurochs, so no false advertising with the word "beasts" in the title.

And how about that Quvenzhane Wallis? Wow, I cannot pronounce that name even now, (Quvenzhane, not Wallis) but she really did pull this picture along. It really did take guts for the Academy to nominate her for Best Actress instead of Best Supporting Actress, so good on them there.
Nominations: Actress in a Leading Role (Quvenzhane Wallis), Directing (Benh Zeitlin), Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Django Unchained
My one top ten pick that meshed with the Academy choices, so I won't rehash much here. I did get into a pseudo-argument about the violence of this movie around Christmas, and that conversation has stuck with me; I mean, they stuck a bloodbag on a horse. But that's the thing; they used bloodbags for gunshots. I'm either used to PG-13 polite, clean movie gunshot wounds, or fakey CGI blood splatters. I guess I learned a lesson from that. If you want to make an impact, fellers, you got to do it for real. I mean, with practical effects; not really for real.

Yep; one of my favorite movies of the year and my praise of it is "I liked it when people got shot."
Nominations: Cinematography, Sound Editing
Wins: Actor in a Supporting Role (Christoph Waltz), Writing (Original Screenplay)

Les Miserables
Never mind Quvenzhane Wallis, I still don't know how to pronounce this movie's name. I don't know how I managed to do that, what with it being said again and again on the Oscar show and on the Oscar podcast I listen to, and one of my other top ten picks of the year, Bernie, actually featuring the titular character's ability to correctly pronounce this movie's name as a freaking plot point!

Anyway, this is a love it, hate it movie for a lot of people, and I'm kind of rolling my eyes at both camps; first of all, it's a good movie, haters be damned (unless they're hating on Russell Crowe, of course, because fuck that guy). Second of all, however, at least one defender complained about how the Academy couldn't stomach European cinema like Les Miserable because they needed a big American happy ending, completely ignoring the fact that a. European cinema was two for two in the previous years, b. both featured damn happy endings, thank you very much, and c. the friggin' director of this movie was the director of one of those two movies!
Nominations: Actor in a Leading Role (Hugh Jackman), Costume Design, Music (Original Song) "Suddenly", Production Design, Sound Mixing
Wins: Actress in a Supporting Role (Anne Hathaway), Makeup and Hairstyling

Life of Pi
I'm going to get on a weird little furry soapbox for this one; J.M. of [adjective][species] has done nothing but piss me off since pretty much day one (I mean, it took him two weeks to work up to it, but he eventually came out pro-bestiality; he's only recently been surpassed as "worst regular writer in furry fandom" by PapaBear's pro-incest stance), but the thing that put me in an apoplectic fit was his My Little Pony article, and no, not because I'm just a big pony fanboy (though it probably didn't help things, admittedly). In that article he finally proved my suspicion that most furries ... don't actually like furry, by not only saying he doesn't like cartoon animals (kind of a weird stance for a member of cartoon animal fandom to take), he compared watching cartoons to eating shit.

Well, what the hell does this have to do with Life of Pi? Well, because J.M. is a pretentious douchebag (not that's my beef with the guy; I'm bragging about how I watched all the Best Picture nominees, for Christ's sake), he worked in how he has read Life of Pi, and apparently, Pi eats shit in the book. This is not in the movie version, and, seriously, Ang Lee deserves his Best Director trophy for that reason alone. But, anyway, he doesn't find it nutritious; it has "no value" (remember, in the metaphor here, the thing with no value is pretty much furry). So, I watched this movie, and though there is no shit eating scene, there is a scene where Pi reads a comic book about one of the Hindu gods eating dirt, and being scolded for eating something with no value, only to open his mouth and reveal entire universes inside his mouth. And, I haven't read the book, so maybe the movie changed this message, but if not, I think not only did J.M. insult the core of furry, he even managed to miss the point entirely. So, after I'm done here, I've watched enough "value" content for a while; I've got some shit to go eat.

Also, the movie is pretty good on its own rather just as a way to bash some dumb furry on the Internet, though my brother absolutely loathes it for some reason.
Nominations: Film Editing, Music (Original Song) "Pi's Lullaby", Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Wins: Cinematography, Directing (Ang Lee), Music (Original Score), Visual Effects

Lincoln
What's a good Best Picture field without a biopic? Hey, I love me some Stephen Spielberg, though this wasn't typical Stephen Spielberg. Though it had the lighter touches, it was more straight forward, and surprisingly less epic than it could have been. But it was the lighter touches, and, also, the more human touches that made it.

The one problem is a frequent Spielberg complaint, though I've never really bought into until this movie; the guy doesn't stick the landings when it comes to the end. Uh, spoiler alert, but Lincoln gets shot at the end of the movie; the thing is, it wasn't entirely necessary to have that in the movie. The movie is about a specific part of Lincoln's life; yes, it was near the end of his life, but that wasn't part of the story. And, to add insult to injury, it chooses not to show the assassination; it both isn't part of the story or, if we're being literal, the movie, so why not just finish the movie when the story was over?
Nominations: Actor in a Supporting Role (Tommy Lee Jones), Actress in a Supporting Role (Sally Field), Cinematography, Costume Design, Directing (Stephen Spielberg), Film Editing, Music (Original Score), Sound Mixing, Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Wins: Actor in a Leading Role (Daniel Day-Lewis), Production Design

Silver Linings Playbook
A real romantic comedy! Not a fake romantic comedy like The Kids Are All Right, either! Surprisingly, I find myself really liking this genre; it's not one I often seek out, but maybe I should, because I can watch You've Got Mail over and over. That seems out of character for me; I don't know, is it?

It kind of felt light for a Best Picture nominee, however. Which is fine by me. I loved the final dance off; that's another weird thing I'm finding myself liking, though I wouldn't consciously seek it out. I love dancing in movies; more movies need to end in dance offs.
Nominations: Actor in a Leading Role (Bradley Cooper), Actor in a Supporting Role (Robert De Niro), Actress in a Supporting Role (Jacki Weaver), Directing (David O. Russell), Film Editing, Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Wins: Actress in a Leading Role (Jennifer Lawrence)

Zero Dark Thirty
As a horror fan, I kind of hate the word cathartic, but oh, my God, does it apply to this movie; I remember not crying when Ol' Yeller got shot (I mean, everyone spoils that movies for little kids anyway, for some reason), but I cried my eyes out when they shot bin Laden (though, admittedly, I kinda figured that was going to be the end, as well). I really hated that man; I didn't even realize how much until this movie. I actually remember when they announced the real deal; I remember being mostly jaded to it. I mean, if they had taken him alive, he could have starred in an episode of the Discovery Channel's "I Almost Got Away With It." I remember "The Daily Show" trying to act all excited, but it just seemed fake; shut up Jon, you're just glad it was Obama and not Bush got him. I responded more to "The Colbert Report" releasing deflated balloons. It took a movie, a story, something that isn't really real, to remind me how I really felt about that man.

The really surprising thing, however, was that, cathartic as it was, anyone who tells you that this movie is an advertisement selling torture, well, I was going to say punch them in the face, but I guess that would be a bit hypocritical, because in the end, the final shot of the movie, the heroine is crying her eyes out. And they are not tears of joy. At the end of the day, this movie doesn't condone torture because it barely condones killing bin Laden. Yeah, we wanted that man so dead we could taste it, but so what? What did we really gain? A couple deflated balloons on a comedy show.

Oh, uh, got a little serious there. Sorry about that. I guess I'll finish with a shout out to my girls, Jessica Chastain and Kathryn Bigelow. Big fan of both.
Nominations: Actress in a Leading Role (Jessica Chastain), Film Editing, Writing (Original Screenplay)
Wins: Sound Editing (in a tie with Skyfall)

My Guess for the Nominee List in a Fiver Year: Argo, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook
My Guess for the 10th Nominee in a Tenner Year: Skyfall

2011 Oscar Best Picture mini-reviews.

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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.

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