Daily post &Norshtein 03 Feb 2010 09:02 am

Dumbing down Oscar/Norshtein visit

- I thought I’d comment on the Oscar nominations.

The list of 10 Best Picture nominees creates some pathetic choices. The Blindside and District Nine should not be nominated for the Best Picture. It diminishes the category and demeans the other nominees. I’m sure Up got in there because of the increase to 10 nominees, but I’d gladly sacrifice that to give a little dignity to the award. The Messenger was better than either of those two films (and better than Avatar as well) yet it was left out in the cold.

They did this once before, in 1939, when every one of those 10 nominees deserved to be there. This year it was tough just picking 5 films to be nominated.

I’m glad Tomm Moore’s The Secret of the Kells got nominated, though I don’t think it was particularly good. However, it would have been a total sham if Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs had been honored. My preference would have been for Ponyo, which may have been the best animated feature of last year’s crop.

(By the way, there’s another chance to see the Secret of the Kells in NY. Tomm Moore will be in attendance for a Q&A. It’s playing Sat Feb 27 at the CANTOR FILM CENTER – 36 East 8th Street – at 1pm. Go here for tickets in advance. )

It’s also sad that Runaway wasn’t nominated for Best Animated Short. It’s better than most of those nominated, even though I’m not a fan of any of the shorts in the running. There were a bad crop of films shown this year, and I would have had a hard time if I had to select any of them.

I have to say, watching Logorama, which ended with a devastating earthquake, so soon after the Haitian disaster was difficult. This wasn’t the fault of the filmmakers, just the circumstances that were happening in the real world. It took something away from the film, for me.


Yurij Norshtein is visiting the two coasts.

He’ll be in San Franciso this Sunday, Feb. 7h, showing his films and talking at the Balboa Theater (3630 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA). Tickets are $25. The event will be a fundraiser to support Yuri Norshtein’s animation studio in Moscow.

He’ll be in Olympia, Washington on Wednesday, February 10th at the Evergreen State College (Communications Building, Recital Hall in Olympia Washington.) Ticket prices are $10 regular admission, $8 seniors, $5 students.

He’ll be in LA this Friday at the USC School of Cinematic Arts (the Norris Cinema Theatre/Frank Sinatra Hall.) The admission is free and begins at 7:00pm. Friday, February 5th, 2010. Igor Kovalyev (Milch, The Rugrats, Duckman) will lead the conversation with him.

And, finally, he’ll be in New York on Monday, February 15 at the School of Visual Arts Theater (333 W. 23rd Street, between 8th/9th Ave.) This event is free to ASIFA East members (and anyone else, too.) Interesting enough, none of those who put together the NY edition of this show have any idea whether Norshtein will be screening films or just doing a Q&A. It’s up to him (and I’m pretty confident his films WILL be screened – since he doesn’t speak English, making a lengthy talk impossible.)

This is one of the great world leaders of animation, people. ATTEND ATTEND ATTEND and Stop being so lazy.

12 Responses to “Dumbing down Oscar/Norshtein visit”

  1. on 03 Feb 2010 at 11:20 am 1.Mark Mayerson said …

    I’m also sorry that Ponyo did not get a nomination. However, I’m surprised that The Princess and the Frog did get one. I would have preferred Ponyo or Mary and Max, both of which are far more interesting than the Disney film.

  2. on 03 Feb 2010 at 3:39 pm 2.Mario NC said …

    I’m kind of surprised about the mixed reception of The Secret of Kells. That one and The Fantastic Mr. Fox are, for me, the best animated features of last year. I troughly enjoyed them in all levels (story, design, animation etc.)

    It’s true that Ponyo deserved a nomination, but it’s just not that “great”. Yes, is technically perfect and a charming children’s movie, but I can help to think that it feels kind of unremarkable compared with other Miyazaki films. Even though I watched a couple of months ago, I can’t remmember a lot about the movie, save one or two amazing and imaginative sequences. It’s like it dissapeared of my mind altogether, and thats a really bad thing if is a Miyazaki film. It’s just like the nomination of Howl’s Moving Castle, it doesn’t have a lot of chances of wining.

    I have to agree that Princess and the Frog didn’t deserve a nomination. And considering the political views of the Academy it actually has a lot of chances of winning, even thougn Up is the obvious choice this year.

  3. on 04 Feb 2010 at 12:33 am 3.Elliot Cowan said …

    I liked Kells a great deal.
    It’s probably my favorite of the nominated films.

  4. on 04 Feb 2010 at 7:02 pm 4.D Knott said …

    Ponyo is not nominated because it didn’t deserve to be. As far as story goes, it’s an unresolved mess. It seems like Miyazaki, when faced with ending his story decided to rely on a ponderous “mystical” resolution that was entirely unsatisfying. I think Miyazaki did a much better job incorporating Japanese mythology and mysticism into his stories in Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. I think with Howl’s and Ponyo, Miyazaki has gotten into the habit of painting himself into a corner story-wise, while getting too preoccupied with art direction or the fact that he re-animates many of his animator’s scenes. Nice animation; unsatisfying storytelling.

  5. on 05 Feb 2010 at 1:43 am 5.tkrepcio said …

    Minor correction. There were at least 10 nominees for Best Picture each year from 1933 through 1943, not just 1939. Some years did feature a mix of clunkers and gems. The blog Awards Daily did an analysis of the ’10 nominee’ years and their conclusion is that there is more likely to be a Director/Picture split with 10 nominees, which seems to be the odds on prediction for this year.

    I haven’t seen all the animated feature nominees, but Ponyo was the best animated feature I saw last year. I agree, to a small extent, about the ending. The resolution was abrupt. For me, the rest of the movie more than made up for it.

    Actually, I found the ending of Ponyo much less flawed than the whole last third of UP. The way I see it, they had this old pilot character, the Howard Hughes character, and they never figured out how to deal with him, so they went the most banal and formulaic route, all mixed in with lots of unnecessary 3D oriented action sequences. Maybe I just expect more from PIXAR, but I was disappointed.

    Coraline is a real head scratcher for me. I’ve never liked the features of Henry Selick and Coraline just continued that feeling. Plus, I just don’t understand the seeming desire for a ‘horror movies for kids’ genre.

    Putting negatives aside, I was glad to see such an amazingly diverse and daring crop of animated features released in 2009. I applaud all the hard work, imagination and determination from all the writers, directors, animators, etc.

  6. on 05 Feb 2010 at 6:05 pm 6.anon said …

    I like Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. I think you don’t give it enough credit, its a solid film.

  7. on 05 Feb 2010 at 6:54 pm 7.Cameron said …

    I have to disagree with D Knott. The endings aside, both films were mostly spectacular storytelling.

    Granted, Ponyo’s narrative was thin, but that’s a non-issue and beside the point. Miyazaki’s goal was to create a story told entirely with art design and animation, free of CGI. I think he succeeded. The animation is both spectacular in its large moments and nuanced in its subtler ones, with some of the finest use of color I’ve seen. For my money, the scene with the empty car, as well as the tunnel sequence, are much truer and more moving storytelling than anything else I’ve seen this year, far more soulful than The Princess and the Frog (which I feel did not deserve its nomination at all).

    I’m also not seeing why people accuse Howl’s Moving Castle of being shallow and pretty, when it contained one of the more dimensional and character-driven romances of last decade, as well as some pretty gutsy and potentially controversial political commentary. The detailed steampunk art style was simply icing on the cake, as far as I’m concerned.

    That said, as much as I loved Ponyo, I might actually prefer The Secret of Kells, which I find to be one of the best examples of visual storytelling in some time. Having viewed it a good four times, I’ve continually spotted new subtleties, whether it’s the mechanical designs and plans in the practically-minded lead Abbey’s quarters or the symbolism of the Eye of Crom. To me, it’s like a modern folktale, and despite criticisms to the contrary I found it to be brilliantly characterized and structured.

  8. on 05 Feb 2010 at 7:02 pm 8.Cameron said …

    Excuse my second post, but let me also throw in my thought that District 9 deserves its best picture nomination far more than Avatar, which I found to be the epitome of pretty, dull, one-dimensional, formulaic storytelling. Avatar demeans the category. It’s no different from nominating something like Transformers.

    But, really, does it matter? Calling for dignity for an awards category strikes me as fairly ludicrous. I’d gladly give up a little dignity to bring more attention to animation or other “non reputable” sorts of cinema. Not that Up was my favorite among the animated pictures of this year, but it’s a non issue when I rarely even like the five nominees they typically choose. I’d do anything to demean those blasted forgettable “Oscar” films.

  9. on 05 Feb 2010 at 9:01 pm 9.D Knott said …

    Sorry Cameron, but your comment just did not make any kind of sense. A thin narrative being a non-issue??? Unless you are talking about experimental animation, these films are driven by narrative. Art direction and animation are always at the service of story. If it was not the case you would be looking at an art installation that just happens to be a moving image. I agree that the animation was spectacular (the car racing the waves sequence.) But spectacular animation does not a good movie make.

    I like Howl’s up until the very last minute where he tried to wrap up the whole story in one soliloquy. A clumsy ending that did not do service to what had come before it.

    And, yes, Princess and the Frog was a mess and does not deserve to be nominated either.

  10. on 11 Feb 2010 at 1:44 pm 10.vm said …

    I think Secret of Kells beats Ponyo on any level, anytime :D original story, design, look, much better movie. Ponyo is just another Ghibli film, and not one of the better ones, just a weird little movie for weird little children :D while Kells is one truly spectacular animated film.

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