The Annie Awards are often referred to as The Oscars of Animation. Presented each year by ASIFA-Hollywood (a division of the International Animated Film Society), the Annies celebrate the best in animated films and television as voted on by members of the animation industry from around the world. Needless to say, every year several anthropomorphic works are represented among the nominees — and sometimes even among the winners! On Saturday, February 2nd the Annie Awards for 2012 were presented at a gala ceremony at Royce Hall on the campus of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Unlike in previous years, this year’s ceremony didn’t really have a “host”: Each presenter basically introduced the next presenter. In the feature film category the night largely belonged to Disney Animation’s film Wreck It Ralph, which won for Music, Writing, Voice Acting (for Alan Tudyk as King Candy), Directing (Rich Moore), and of course Best Animated Feature. Disney/Pixar’s Brave was also represented, bringing home wins for Feature Editing and Feature Production Design. Dreamworks’ Rise of the Guardians also took home awards in two technical categories, Feature Storyboarding and Effects Animation. Over in the TV categories, the biggest winner of the night was Dreamworks’ Dragons: Riders of Berk. In addition to a win for Best TV Production for Children, Dragons won for Storyboarding, Music, and Directing. Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness won in a single category, TV Editing.
The ABCs of Death is a horror anthology film which premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. Released as Video-on-Demand on January 31, it will screen in theatres from March 8 in the U.S.
The film is comprised of twenty-six different shorts – all themed around death – one for each letter of the alphabet. Spanning A is for Apocalypse to Z is for Zetsumetsu, each short has its own director and style.
H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion (by Thomas Cappelen Malling) features two anthropomorphic animal characters. A World War 2 British fighter pilot depicted as a jowly British Bulldog is shown watching a striptease performed by a sultry red fox who is concealing a deadly secret.
A short clip of the anthro characters can be found here - viewer discretion is advised.
The producers of Wastelander Panda, the tale of Arcayus (an anthropomorphic panda wandering a post-apocalyptic wasteland) have made a last-minute call for voice actors.
With the project now in post-production, the producers are looking for three actors to voice the three animal characters in the story. In particular, they are looking to voice:
- ISAAC – Male, 28-35 years of age. Deep voice – think Chris Hemsworth.
- ARCAYUS – Male, 40-50 years of age. Deep voice – think Sam Neill or Geoffrey Rush.
- AKIRA – Male, 25-35 years of age. Deep voice – think Ving Rhames.
For anyone tempted to try out for a part, the close of applications is imminent (February 1st).
Walt Disney Pictures have announced several upcoming feature films, and among them is the sequel to the successful 2011 re-launch of The Muppets. Currently titled The Muppets… Again, the new film is scheduled for release in March of 2014. According to The Muppet Wiki, “The film is planned to be a ‘comedy caper’ set in Europe. Ricky Gervais will star as ‘a male lead whose intentions are always in question’ along with Ty Burrell as an Interpol inspector, Tina Fey as a ‘Russian femme fatale,’ and a ‘slew of cameos’”. [Oh like they ever have that in a Muppet movie!] The sequel will be again directed by James Bobin, and scripted by Nick Stoller, who co-wrote the 2011 film with star Jason Segel.
During the early eighties, the FCC began to back off on restrictions on advertisements in children’s television, despite pressure from parents’ groups to apply more. The upshot was a series of Saturday morning cartoons (as well as other children’s shows) that were nothing but glorified commercials for various toy lines.
Hasbro was one of the companies involved in selling chunks of plastic to kids who could then nag their parents via the magic of animation. To be entirely fair, their products were probably the most artistically valid at the time, which I should stress was not saying much. Most of their shows have had a remarkable shelf life, long after the need to sell toys have gone.
In 1986, Hasbro had two movies hitting theaters based on their toylines; Transformers: The Movie and My Little Pony: The Movie, with a G.I. Joe: The Movie planned for 1987. However, both became massive box office flops, and G.I. Joe was sent direct to video. While Transformers quietly went on to become an animated cult hit, My Little Pony, well, didn’t.
The reason for this is simple; it’s not a very good movie. But looking at it today, it offers insights into why the newest incarnation of the property, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, has followed in Transformers: The Movie footsteps to become its own animated cult hit, as well as why bad movies are bad in general.
From January 18 to 25, the GKids (Guerrilla Kids International Distribution Syndicate) distributor gave the 98-minute French animated feature The Rabbi’s Cat (Le Chat du Rabbin), directed by Joann Sfar and Antoine Delesvaux, produced by Autochenille Production (a studio set up in 2007 by Sfar and Delesvaux to make this movie), and based on Sfar’s French five-volume graphic novel of the same name (volumes 1, 2, and 5 of it, to be exact), a one-week American limited “general” distribution, in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego on the West Coast. It will have an East Coast release in mid-March.
The original French release, on June 1, 2011, won the Annecy Crystal for Best Feature at the 2011 Annecy International Animated Film Festival, and the 2012 César Award (“the French Oscar”) for Best Animated Film. It had a one-week release in one theater in America on December 7-13 to qualify for 2012 American film awards, and was nominated for the Annie in two categories, Best Animated Feature and Outstanding Achievement, Directing in an Animated Feature Production.
On January 20, my sister and I went to the Laemmle Town Center 5 in Encino to see The Rabbi's Cat, in French with English subtitles. It was playing for a week, and has gotten a mixed but generally favorable illustrated review in LA Weekly, January 18-24, 2013, the major citywide free alternative newspaper. Rotten Tomatoes gave it 93%.
The Oscar nominees have been announced, and it is a weird year. It was so weird, most Oscar pundits had a better idea of what would win Best Original Song than Best Picture. Now that the nominees are out, it looks like Best Picture is finally clear, but most pundits (this one included) have a better lock on Best Foreign Language Film than Best Animated Feature. So much for “we’ll know come November.”
Did you know that Thor’s magic hammer has a name, Crusher, and is anthropomorphic?
I don’t recall that Marvel Comics ever taught us that. You can see for yourself on the 15th when the (bad) Icelandic 2011 CGI 3-D feature Thor: Legends of Valhalla, directed by Óskar Jónasson, is released in America Direct to Video. Or watch this 1’37” trailer.
Actually, Crusher is an accurate translation of Mjölnir, the mythological hammer's name.
The ALAA’s 2012 Anthropomorphic Recommended List will close on January 15, 2013, to allow for last-minute recommendations of last-week-of-2012 releases. The 2012 Ursa Major Awards nominations will open on January 17, the first day of Further Confusion 2013.
Go to the Ursa Major Awards website on January 17 to register for an online nomination form. You may cast up to five nominations in each of eleven categories: Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture, Best Dramatic Short Work or Series, Best Novel, Best Short Fiction, Best Other Literary Work, Best Graphic Story, Best Comic Strip, Best Magazine, Best Published Illustration, Best Website, and Best Game. If you do not have five nominees in any category, you may nominate less. To be eligible, a work must have been released during the calendar year 2012; must include a non-human being given human attributes (anthropomorphic), which can be mental and/or physical; and must receive more than one nomination.
If you cannot think of anything to nominate, you may refer to the 2012 Recommended List. That has at least five titles in each category, recommended by Furry fans. Remember, 2012 Recommendations are not nominations for the awards. Nominations of a work are separate. You may nominate a work that has not been recommended if it meets the eligibility criteria.
We’ve been following this one since we first caught wind of it in Animation magazine, and somehow it snuck by us… and right onto DVD at your local WalMart, no less. Cinderella: Once Upon A Time In The West (known as Cinderella 3D in Europe) is a new CGI feature from France, directed by Pascal Herold. The story is much as you’ve ever heard it before: Cinderella (a pretty pronghorn who can handle her own in a fight) lives with her cruel stepmother and ugly stepsisters (all of them big old hounds)… this time, in a town in the Old West. A handsome prince (also a canine, but much more… handsome) comes into town and… well you know the rest. Or do you? Did we mention the sand pirate monkeys who fly on vultures? Yes, it’s that kind of film! It’s produced by Delacave Studio, and you can check it out at their web site. Oh, the DVD is in English, by the way.
Animation Xpress #415, January 7, 2013, has the first trailer for Indian studio Green Gold Pictures’ second Chhota Bheem animated CGI children's feature, Chhota Bheem and the Throne of Bali, following the smash success (in India, in Hindi) of last year’s Chhota Bheem and the Curse of Damyaan. As before, the movie is not really anthropomorphic, but it does have Bheem’s talking monkey friend Jaggu (“Jaggu is surprisingly kickass”), and the trailer shows lots of evil Rangda’s anthropomorphized monsters. Out May 3, 2013 in India, in Hindi.
The Cartoon Brew has a preview list of animated features due out in 2013; at least those announced so far – some with trailers.
There are two kinds of movie reviewers; those that see the traditional end of year top ten list as a chore, and those like me who see it as a perk. Anyway, here’s ten movies from 2012 that I liked.
Due to technical difficulties on my end, you get two columns this month to make up for the zero columns last month. Anyway, this month sees the Annies announcing their nominees, so this column will be all about that.
The Cartoon Brew has reported earlier on Warner Bros. making tests of live-action/CGI versions of Marvin the Martian and Hong Kong Phooey for “live-action” features featuring the cartoon stars. Now the CB has that test footage, thanks to director Alex Zamm.
The Cartoon Brew says, “Quick! Check these out before they remove them from the internet…”, which presumably means that this may be considered too embarrassing to leave up for long, due to the literal toilet humor..