Out Now – 11th November 2011

Arthur Christmas
Worth watching if only because somehow the IMDb page for this film has been decorated with Christmas colours. This has completely charmed me. I’m now going to simply list some of the cast and hopefully you’ll agree that the plot doesn’t matter and this is an instant must see: Imelda Staunton, James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Kevin Eldon, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy and Outnumbered‘s Ramona Marquez.

Want to see a lot of burly men try to imitate the success of 300? You sicken me.

The Rum Diary
Johnny Depp stars in an adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s novel as written and directed by Withnail & I‘s Bruce Robinson. Despite the pedigree involved critics are split right down the middle so approach with caution.

The Awakening
Wartime ghost story starring Rebecca Hall and Dominic West. Imelda Staunton is in this film too, should you be looking for a double bill this weekend.

Wuthering Heights
Genuinely gutted to have missed this raw and unique take on a classic tale during the London Film Festival. The focus is less on frocks and bonnets and more on emotions, violence and swearing so don’t expect this to be a cosy ITV1 drama.

How Nicolas Cage has the time to make so many bad films I’ll never know. In his latest instance of cinematic mediocrity he and Nicole Kidman play a couple held to ransom as lies are uncovered and plots twisted.

Les Enfants du Paradis (limited release)
Re-release of the 1945 French film about the tragic romance between a mime and an actress. WARNING: May contain scenes of extreme mime and mime-related dialogue.

Tabloid (limited release)
“A documentary on a former Miss Wyoming who is charged with abducting and imprisoning a young Mormon Missionary.” Can’t wait for this to come on More4.

The British Guide to Showing Off (limited release)
A look at the 40 year history of an outrageous costume pageant, the Alternative Miss World Show.

Black Pond (limited release)
“An ordinary British family and their Japanese friend are accused of murder when a stranger dies at their dinner table.” UK comedy drama shot for a tiny amount and starring Simon Amstell as he continues his foray into acting. Also starring Yuki and Polly from Casualty which is very exciting for a small number of people.

Arthur Christmas – Trailer

Somehow passing me by until now, Arthur Christmas tells the tale of Santa’s son and his quest to bring Christmas to one small girl and is out this Friday.

Made by Aardman and starring James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Kevin Eldon, Hugh Laurie and Ramona Marquez (star of Outnumbered) this is one film to get excited about and could well enter the halls of fame as a new Christmas favourite. After watching this trailer I couldn’t help but share it:

Is the Animated Feature Oscar Just for Kids?

A large number of films have been submitted for the Best Animated Feature Oscar at the 2012 awards, and despite there being a good mix of family films and more adult features I can’t help but feel that only those with a child friendly approach will have any chance of taking home a statuette.

The 18 submitted films are:
Rango, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots, Rio, Cars 2, Hoodwinked Two! Hood Vs. Evil, Gnomeo & Juliet, Mars Needs Moms, Winnie the Pooh, The Adventures of Tintin, Arthur Christmas, Happy Feet Too, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, The Smurfs, Alois Nebel, A Cat in Paris, Chico & Rita and Wrinkles.

Amongst the list I can see two films I know to be aimed at a more mature audience, Chico & Rita with its story of love and music, and Alois Nebel the beautifully dark tale of a man haunted by the past. The latter absolutely blew me away and deserves all the awards it can get, yet I cannot imagine it getting the gong in February next year.

Looking back at the winners in the Best Animated Feature category, only established in 2001, the winners are always films for all the family. Six of the previous ten winners are for Pixar films, and I hope it isn’t too controversial to call these family films suitable for all ages. This is not a criticism as all six are excellent films, however these victories have meant that equally worthy, and perhaps less child-friendly, films such as The Illusionist and Persepolis have not got the recognition they deserve. Maybe it’s not even about being a family film but about being a fun comedy, something that animation is more synonymous with than drama.

The introduction of this category itself is thought to exclude animated films from the Best Picture category and, while certainly not against the rules for an animated film to win, has been the case so far. By giving the animated films their own category it sets them aside from live action features, almost suggesting a second place position and making them unlikely to take home the biggest award of all. This diminished ranking makes the Best Animated Feature Oscar feel like a more “fun” award and so much less likely to go to a dramatic film like Alois Nebel and more likely to go to a family comedy like Rango (which I adored too).

This is all just my personal opinion and I am more than happy to be argued against or even proven wrong in February. Animation is a true art form and deserves to be recognised as such whatever the genre the animation may be.