Out Now – 9th December 2011

Puss in Boots
Antonio Banderas’ Puss in Boots gets a prequel to cover the time he spent before appearing in Shrek 2 in a film the critics say has, “an abundance of wit, visual sparkle, and effervescent charm.”

Another Earth (limited release)
Rhoda is involved in a fatal car crash when it is announced on the radio that a mirror version of Earth has been discovered approaching our planet. Struggling with the guilt of killing a mother and son in the crash, Rhoda becomes preoccupied with the idea of the second Earth on which exists an alternate version of herself, identical up to the point of discovery. Did her mirror self make the same mistake and cause an accident too? Cannot wait to see this one.

The Well Digger’s Daughter (limited release)
“A father in pre-WWII France is torn between his sense of honour and his deep love for his saintly daughter when she gets in trouble with the wealthy son of a shopkeeper.”

Mysteries of Lisbon (limited release)
“Follows a jealous countess, a wealthy businessman, and a young orphaned boy across Portugal, France, Italy and Brazil where they connect with a variety of mysterious individuals.” Lives up to the mysterious nature suggested by the title. With this being a Portuguese film the likelihood of us seeing this is dramatically increased; we have a track record.

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (limited release)
Harold, Kumar and Neil Patrick Harris return in some kind of Christmas adventure involving weed, nudity and the wonderful abuse of 3D.

Barely Legal (limited release)
Another straight to video American film somehow creeps its way into UK cinemas. Three (female) best friends born on the same day try to lose their virginity at a joint 18th birthday party.

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.