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I’m at the Vegas airport, my flight was due out at midnight, but currently delayed until 2 AM, and I’m a little tipsy.  I take no responsibility for anything contained in this post.  If you are looking for a chill bar in Vegas, I recommend The Griffin, on Fremont St., downtown.  And across the street, check out Insert Coin(s), for a bar (with a decent beer selection) that features a number of old school video games.  I got to instruct my co-worker on the cultural importance of The Simpsons and X-Men arcade games.

44. Winter’s Bone

We talked about the film plenty this year, and I reviewed the film way back in October.  As with most of the other Oscar nominees, I’m all talked out here, so let’s just keep it moving.

43. The Town

Another movie we tackled some this year, including a great post pulled together by John.  I think the film ended up a little too high on my list, but 2010 really was a subpar year for film.  Honestly, I’d already forgotten that Jeremy Renner nabbed a Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance in the movie.  Could we maybe institute a moratorium on Boston movies for a little bit?  The accent is annoying, and there are plenty of underused places in the US that would make for good locales.  Just saying.

42. Red

Red was a good idea, I just wish they fully committed to the absurdity.  Because this movie is, almost by definition, ridiculous.  If you are going to have Dame Helen Mirren machine gunning people, then just embrace that.  There was an undercurrent of seriousness here that I just didn’t get.  Not to say it was a bad movie, it wasn’t.  Just think there was the potential for something really great.

41. Dogtooth

I’m pretty certain Dogtooth is the most messed up movie I’ve ever seen.  It is just so (intentionally) wrong.  Just…wow.  To the point where I hope writer/director Giorgos Lanthimos (along with co-writer Efthymis  Filippou) seeks out therapy.  The fact that it received an Oscar nomination was heralded as a sign that the selection process for Best Foreign films was finally working.  Which may well be true.  But I think all the film’s advocates have some serious issues they need to work out.

40. Toy Story 3

Naturally came up a few times this year for us.  I gotta say, I’m baffled at the love for this film.  I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time bad-mouthing it, so I just want to clarify that I like the movie, but I didn’t love it and don’t see how others do.  It isn’t a bad movie, but not particularly compelling.  Pretty much just two hours of the familiar crew being placed in crappy situation after crappy situation.  Maybe because the characters mean so much from the first two movies that their predicaments felt a lot more meaningful for people?  I dunno.  To me, one great thing about Pixar movies is their heart, and I just didn’t see it here.

39. Salt

Questionable DC geography aside, Salt is a perfectly serviceable action flick.  Screenwriter Kurt Wimmer has come up with a bevy of thinking man’s thrillers, and he comes up with a good premise here.  The third act is a little disappointing, though, it felt like he could have gone a little deeper with the mysteries surrounding Angelina Jolie and Liev Schreiber (who between this and The Manchurian Candidate has found a rather specific niche for himself).  And hey, that was Smash from FNL as a CIA officer.

38. Date Night

Starring Tina Fey and Steve Carell, with cameos up the wazoo, Date Night should have been a home run, but instead settles for a double.  Which I’m inclined to lay at the feet of screenwriter Josh Klausner, who also wrote Shrek Forever After.  Man, can you imagine if Carell and Fey had co-written this bad boy?  The movie was generally funny, but I wouldn’t call the characters exactly in the respective wheelhouses of the leads.  And it doesn’t seem the film is sure exactly what question about their relationship is trying to be answered over the course of the night.

37. Kick-Ass

I mean, it was decent,  but given the hype, director (Matthew Vaughn), screenwriters (such as Jane Goldman) and cast (Aaron Johnson, Nicholas Cage, Mark Strong), I was kinda hoping for more.  I guess it was a little unsettling to see someone as young as Chloe Moretz being shot at by her character’s father, kicking butt, and tossing out curse words, but it takes a little more than that to rile me up.  Johnson does seem to have a promising career in front of him.  Also, I don’t know if it is the lack of vowels in her name or her lack of lines on HIMYM, but I was a little surprised to see that Lyndsy Fonseca is quite the fetching young lass.

36. Machete

Robert Rodriguez does a number of things very very well.  He’s probably got one of the best understandings of the sensibilities of Westerns of any writer or director working today.   Crazy shootout scenes with tons of guys going after each other?  Knocks that out of the park.  He can establish a certain gritty, Robert Rodriguez feel to a film.  He seems to work well with name actor and actresses, turning their roles in ensemble pieces into something memorable.  On the flip side, I’m not convinced he’s yet figured out how to put together a coherent story.

35. Leaves of Grass

In this Tim Blake Nelson film, Ed Norton plays…you may want to sit down for this one…a dual role.  He’s a well-regarded philosophy professor drawn back to his Oklahoma hometown at the request of his drug-dealing twin brother.  The rest of the eclectic cast includes Susan Sarandon, Richard Dreyfuss, Maggie Siff, Keri Russell and (that) Steve Earle.  The film may not be quite as insightful as it thinks it is, and occasionally veers into weird subplots (including one revolving around anti-Semitic graffiti spraypainted on the wall of a synagogue).  But it has a good heart and manages to be funny, interesting, and often insightful

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We’ve been releasing our takes on the big eight categories throughout the week with a few more to come. Before the big show tonight, I wanted to take one last look at some of the smaller categories that we didn’t bother to do the full treatment on, mostly because we have successful careers and vibrant social lives. Mmmhmm

Art Direction

Nominees: Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 1, Inception, The King’s Speech, True Grit


How many of these movies have rotating hallways and a flooded Japanese pagoda-style mansion? Oh, just Inception? Then I pick that.

Makeup

I’ve only seen The Way Back, but what a makeup job it is. This is a film about escaped prisoners traveling across Siberia and the Gobi desert. That is a hard trek and the makeup really sells it: sunburn, bug bites, extreme thirst, swollen limbs. The makeup is integral, noticeable, and realistic. Also, Colin Firth has some badass tattoos.

Documentary Feature

Restrepo and Exit Through the Gift Shop are both terrific and number among my favorite films of the year. I do like Restrepo slightly more, though I’m rooting for Exit because it’s so different from the usual Oscar documentary and because I love the idea of Banksy as an Oscar winner.

There’s been some talk of Waste Land coming up on the outside and sneaking in for the win. That would be unfortunate. It follows an artist as he recruits trash pickers in Rio de Janeiro’s largest dump to help him create large-scale works of art out of garbage. It’s a decent film, but it piqued my interest in ways I don’t think it intended. The first half deals a lot with the pickers’ daily lives. Where the film sees degradation I see fascinating economic forces at work – mainly positive ones. The film also has an intense Savior Through Art theme, which is probably the common movie theme that I hate the most. It drives my left-sided economist brain crazy. Savior Through Economic Growth, Technological Advancement, Improving Institutions, and Access to Credit, anyone?

I haven’t seen the other two nominated documentaries.

Animated Feature

Toy Story 3 is still my pick, but I have seen The Illusionist since my look at this category a month or so back. (You can go there to see my thoughts on Toy Story and the third nominee, How to Train Your Dragon.)

The Illusionist is amazingly gorgeous. The hand-drawn, watercolor style is breathtaking and creates a wonderfully colorful and vivid version of Scotland. It also has one of my favorite shots of the year, one that starts on a grassy hilltop and swoops through the streets of Edinburgh. I literally gasped, which I believe no 3D animated film has made me do. Director Sylvain Chomet also composed his own music, and it’s very good.

I wish Chomet would break away from the wordless style that he uses here and in Triplets of Belleville. Both films feel slight on plot without dialogue to advance them, which makes them drag. The whimsy and the animation go a long way, but a little more needs to happen to really push me over the top.

Live Action Short

Shorts International and Magnolia have been releasing the Oscar nominated shorts theatrically for the past few years. I would encourage those who can to see out this year’s Live Action program (I believe you can also find them on iTunes).

My choice is Wish 143, about a teen with terminal cancer who gets to participate in a Make A Wish-type program. His wish? To lose his virginity. This film killed me. It does a great job of portraying one’s reaction to illness. The teen, played by Samuel Holland, is so richly realized. For most of it I wondered if it would be appropriate to put a short on my Top 10 list. Unfortunately the ending stumbles a bit.

Na Wewe is my second choice and will be your winner tonight. A van is stopped by rebels in Burundi during the Rwanda/Burundi genocide in the 90s. The rebels separate the passengers into Hutus and Tutsis, planning to execute the latter. The passengers try to convince the rebels to spare them. It has basic emotional elements (suspense/ tragedy/ injustice), an important issue (genocide), and a well-developed and feel good – albeit somewhat obvious – theme (self-definition and how we’re all connected). A natural winner.

The other nominees are God of Love, a cute film about a modern-day hipster Cupid who uses darts instead of arrows; The Crush, a trite story of a young boy who has a crush on his teacher and will fight for his love; and The Confession, a good-looking but sort of pointlessly bleak tale of two boys who can’t figure out what to confess for their first Confession so they set out to cause some trouble.

Animated Short

I try to catch these every year because it usually features some really creative animation. I was underwhelmed with this slate. Check out the live action shorts if you can only see one.

Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary) is the only one that wowed me. And even then, it’s much more style than substance. It’s about a trip into the Malagasy countryside, visualized as a scrapbook come to life. The story is sort of bland, but the animation pops with some cool use of perspective. The Malagasy music used as accompaniment is also a treat.

Let’s Pollute is an amusing take on a 1950s public service film, sarcastically promoting the benefits of pollution. The Lost Thing follows a boy who finds some sort of alien-robot on the beach and tries to find a home for it. Honestly, I just didn’t get it. Day & Night is the cute Pixar short preceding Toy Story 3 about two characters representing the two times of day. I hear it’s great in 3D, but I’ve only seen it in two dimensions, where it’s rather flat, pardon the pun.

The Gruffalo is by far the longest and features the voices of several famous actors like Helena Bonham Carter. The animation is nothing special and the plot is aimed at the toddler level. At 30 minutes, this adult was very restless by the end as I knew where it was heading about 5 minutes in. And yet, except for one brief mention of Madagascar, it was literally the only film people were talking about walking out of the theater. It makes me wonder if it has a shot for the win.

The Oscars are less than a week away and we’re taking a look at all the categories we care to. Today it’s Adapted Screenplay, whose nominees are all also Best Picture nominees.

  • 127 Hours: Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy
  • The Social Network: Aaron Sorkin
  • Toy Story 3: Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
  • True Grit: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
  • Winter’s Bone: Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini

Adam:

He isn't coming for 30% of the Oscar

The Social Network. Fin.

Oh, I am assuming I will need to write more about this category. Ok. First, Aaron Sorkin writes dialogue better than anyone else out there – bar none. Let me qualify that, he writes dialogue for smart people better than anyone else out there. Sports Night and The West Wing are two of the best television programs ever made. The largest reason for this is Aaron Sorkin and his writing. The Social Network owes pretty much all of its appeal and positive criticism to Sorkin’s script – and it is well deserved. Sorkin’s trademark rapid-fire dialogue is present in all its glory, but is supported/ enhanced by his artful telling of this story. I liked the back-and-forth of depositions and actual story, mainly because Sorkin was able to do so smoothly and keep the story moving at the same time. The biggest compliment I can give Sorkin and his script  is that I really enjoyed the movie, and that is as someone who hates Facebook and is unimpressed by David Fincher (so that is pretty impressive).

As the only Grouch to really enjoy True Grit, I throw in a few words about the Cohen brothers’ script. A minor spoiler is that they modified the story slightly from the original. At first I was a little worried about it, but that quickly changed. I thought they did a great job with both the changes and the script as a whole. The story moved, the changes were largely relevant, and the dialogue was entertaining. The only thing they failed miserably on was the ending. I stated before that the glaring failure of the remake was the ending. While I liked the Coen brothers’ version a lot better, the ending was far inferior to the original’s. All in all, though, I definitely think they deserve to be nominated and their script ranks second in my mind.

I honestly don’t have a lot to say about the other movies nominated. I liked Winter’s Bone’s story (surprisingly enough some of the scenery/ characters reminded me of home). There were definitely better movies made in 2010 and better scripts, but I am not angry about its nomination. Toy Story 3 was fine. Not great, but fine. I laughed some, and didn’t hate that I watched it. 127 Hours is pretty much in the same boat. All in all, we have an extremely strong script, a strong one, a decent one, and two weak ones. Not the most impressive bunch I’ve seen, but, for the Academy, I’d say this is a pretty good showing.

Who Should Win: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network (hands down)

Jared

I was pretty proud of myself for describing the dialogue in the Joel and Ethan Coen’s True Grit screenplay as “Runyonesque”, so I’ll stick with that.  Which makes it a little surprising, then, that I didn’t like the film more, given how much I like Damon Runyon.  Here’s the thing, though.  Runyon’s dialogue serves interesting characters doing interesting things.  The Coen’s dialogue serves kinda interesting characters doing terribly uninteresting things.  So while at times it was a welcome distraction, a Western can very rarely be entertaining because of the talking in it.  Brian makes an excellent point about Josh Brolin’s Tom Chaney (there’s a Washington Senators dying to be made here): That’s it?  The man was on screen for what, three minutes?  This film was a road trip movie, and not a particularly good one at that.

There were lots of good things about Winter’s Bone.  The cast were all pretty interesting.  The look of the film felt great.  And it was refreshing setting for a movie for a script.  And while the script was certainly the genesis of all that, I personally want to see a little bit more from my Oscar nominees.  I’m not sure I can point any one particularly weak part of the script, just not sure I could point to any one particularly strong one, either.  The plot seemed almost like a procedural in nature.  Jennifer Lawrence’s quest was, at times, very linear.  The sparseness of the script certainly matched the locale, but I tend to need more.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep harping on it, I don’t understand all this love for Toy Story 3 and would be much happier if people replaced How to Train Your Dragon wherever I see the former.  OK, yes, the scene at the end got the room a little dusty.  But otherwise it is just the toys being placed in crappy situation after crappy situation.  I didn’t see the heart or wit that were the hallmarks of the first two films.  I’m not suggesting this film was bad, just that people are perhaps lauding it with praise left over from 1 and 2.

127 Hours is perfectly adequate.  The script is generally taut and engaging, though it may rely a little too heavily on the dream sequences.  Especially considering it really is a one trick pony: a hiker gets stuck and (SPOILER ALERT!) cuts off his arm, the end.  It is hard to envision how that simple story could make for a compelling story, so kudos to Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy for turning in a relatively interesting screenplay.

He's coming for...

Clearly though, Aaron Sorkin’s script for the The Social Network is tops here and it isn’t particularly close.  Thank goodness it qualifies as an adapted screenplay so there’s no chance of it losing to the juggernaut that is The King’s Speech.  From the opening seconds of the film, you know you are in for something uniquely Aaron Sorkin.  And something amazing.  I undoubtedly felt, while the movie was still going on, that I was watching something epic.  I think it is mistake to take the film for something grandiose, like generation-defining.  But that doesn’t make the movie any less enthralling, filled with clever lines and fascinating scenes.  Sorkin’s screenplay is the best one of the year, and maybe the best we’ve seen in awhile.

John

Another decent slate, though marked with films whose strongest elements were outside the script, in my estimation. 127 Hours is all fast cuts, splashy camerawork, and terrific acting. The story is fine, but it achieves what it does through the ways Danny Boyle chooses to visualize it. Toy Story 3 works quite well. I can only say it didn’t build up to something as delightful and emotional as most Pixar movies for me. It is still quite humorous and clever with Mr. Tortilla Head one of my favorite gags of the year.

ALL OF IT


I think True Grit is full of great language, strong characters, and a decent story, but the performances and technical work stand out more to me. Winter’s Bone is a strong second place, particularly in its characters. But it succeeds on atmosphere, which is a lot more than what’s on the written page.

I follow my colleagues with a resounding decision for The Social Network. When people think screenplays they think dialogue and Sorkin has a great way with words. But let me also draw attention to the film’s flashback structure, which really allows its themes to unfold. Or the drama and humor in the plot. This is more than just Sorkin walk-and-talk pizazz.

Snub: I think Fair Game would have found a good home here.

We’re going to go ahead and knock out all the sonic categories today. They happen to be some of the favorite niche categories of several Grouches.

Best Original Song

Your nominees:

  • “Coming Home” from Country Strong
  • “I See the Light” from Tangled
  • “If I Rise” from 127 Hours
  • “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3

John bemoans the state of the category:

This is such a bland group of nominees. It was a bland slate of eligible titles this year, so much so that I didn’t even bother with my annual look at this category. Usually there are a couple big names eligible in the category and a few songs I really like that come out of nowhere. And then the Academy will nominate a bunch of songs I’m mostly ambivalent about. This year didn’t have many I actively disliked, but also few really stood out. I don’t anticipate any getting listens after this Oscar season.

And yet this set of nominees still puzzles me. Only four songs got the nod, meaning only those four received scores high enough to be deemed worthy of nomination. It’s no big tragedy that any particular song didn’t get in and it wouldn’t bother me if these four had just happened to rise to the top. But it amazes me that the music branch decided it would rather forgo a fifth nominee than nominate one of the other choices. This crop gets nominations but nothing from Burlesque is even good enough to qualify for a nod??

The only one I dislike is “If I Rise,” which is almost not even a song. It’s about as low-key as music can be, with just enough lyrics to constitute a song and not a chant. I concede it works well over end credits and it’s an effective counterbalance to AR Rahman’s pulsating score through much of the film. The Dido parts aren’t bad, particularly in the beginning, but they feel out of place with the bizarre elements of the rest of the song.

The rest are all generic genre tunes to my ear. “Coming Home” is a bland pop country song that’s devoid of good hooks and is too reptitive. The bizarre thing is that there is a good song from Country Strong. It’s even called “Country Strong.” But it’s not original to the movie! Go figure.

“We Belong Together” is a nice enough ditty, but I defy you to tell it apart from any other Randy Newman contribution to a Pixar film. That leaves “I See the Light,” which is my winner by default. Again, fine enough musical number but I can’t say it had much impact. Disney purposefully only submitted this song to increase its chances at a nomination/win. I’d say there are songs that I like better from Tangled, but at least this one is thematically resonant.

Snubs: Of the weak eligible slate, the Burlesque songs really do stand out. I would have nominated them all and given “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” and given it the win, albeit without a ton of enthusiasm. I also have a small soft spot for Avril Lavigne’s “Alice” from Alice in Wonderland. She really shows off her pipes.

Jared sees things similarly

“If I Rise” is the kind of breathy atmospheric song that is instantly forgettable.  Rahman is clearly better served going big and bold.  And I’ve always viewed Dido’s successes as more plaintive numbers.  It is going to be interesting to see Florence – The Machine tackle the song on Oscar night, even if I’m not yet convinced she can salvage it.

“Coming Home” probably isn’t as good as “Country Strong”.  Either way, the titles hint at the largely generic tunes populating this movie.  “Coming Home” is the type of soaring, chorus-less song that does not exist outside of movies.  And I’m not entirely certain why the Academy insists on continuing to recognize its ilk.

Randy Newman can crank out movie songs in his sleep at this point.  I won’t go for the obvious joke there because I don’t think “We Belong Together” is that bad.  Even if the title conjures superior Mariah Carey and Pat Benatar songs.  This one, however, is pretty decent montage-y type of song.  It doesn’t have a strong presence, and tends to fade into the background at bits, but it has some decent parts to remind you it is still there.

But “I See the Light” is the only legitimate song of the bunch.  Now, OK, perhaps I was always going to liked a song sung by Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi.  I think Moore is an underrated singer.  I probably listened to “I Could Break Your Heart Every Day of the Week” daily for about a month at one point.  And most of you probably know that I have a weak spot for celebrities who dabble in singing.  So when I heard Chuck was singing on an Oscar-contending song, I mean, I was sold.  The song has its own merits.  I found myself humming the song a few times after listening to it, including a couple of times while writing this post.  I mean, yeah, it feels like a traditional Disney song in a lot of ways.  But groundbreaking songs aren’t really the Academy’s thing.  The song is pleasantly uplifting, and that’s going to be enough to take the category for me.

Best Original Score

The nominees:

  • John Powell, How to Train Your Dragon
  • Hans Zimmer, Inception
  • Alexadre Desplat, The King’s Speech
  • A.R. Rahman, 127 Hours
  • Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network

John takes this one:

Score is one of those categories where I’m never sure what I’m going to like. Some music transports me back to a film I enjoyed. Some work great in the context of the movie. Some are wonderful on their own. I’m not sure any characteristic stands out for me. Atonement had wonderful music that stood on its own; Up was less of a good stand alone listen but terrific as a transport back to the film’s rich emotion. This year it’s a bit of all of the above.

When I think of the 127 Hours music, I think of a throbbing score. But most of the pieces are much more subdued. The slower stuff clearly didn’t make much of an impact, while I’m not sure I ever really got into the more up tempo music. It is a compelling artistic choice for a film about a guy stuck in a canyon.

I don’t have anything to say about How to Train Your Dragon except that if I heard it without context, I would suspect its a film score. The potential of a sweep for The King’s Speech has fans particularly annoyed in this category, but Desplat delivers a score I quite enjoy. It works very well in the film and it’s good even on its own. The repeated piano motif is nice.

I love the score from The Social Network and it complements the film beautifully. The electronic music and repeated six distinct notes reinforce the film’s themes. But it’s less fun listening to it on its own so I’m going for the bombast and BRAAAAAAAAAH! Inception‘s score just heightens its already considerable bad assery. It’s big and dramatic, fun and brash.

That said, two of my favorite scores were ineligible this year due to their reliance on preexisting work: Clint Mansell for Black Swan and Carter Burwell for True Grit, which probably would have received my vote if it were nominated.

Snubs: I really enjoyed director Sylvain Chomet’s score to The Illusionist and Rachel Portman’s orchestral accompaniment to Never Let Me Go.

Sound

There are two sound categories. Sound Editing is sound effects. Sound Mixing is the mix of all sonic elements: dialogue, music, ADR, and effects.

The nominees for Sound Editing are Inception, Toy Story 3, Tron: Legacy, True Grit, and Unstoppable.

For Sound Mixing: Inception, The King’s Speech, Salt, The Social Network, and True Grit.

Jared talks Editing:

I’m nowhere near observant or knowledgeable enough about sound editing and mixing, so I’ll abstain, even though I’ve seen eight of the ten nominees (and Salt is waiting for me at home).  But I wanted to take a minute to highlight the most unlikely Oscar nominee, Unstoppable.  I saw the film on the plane to Vegas on this trip out, so it is fresh in my mind.  I’ll save my thoughts on the film for elsewhere.  But it was generally exciting.  And considering the dialogue and characters were uniformly useless and the visuals fairly rote, I’m going to go ahead and say that by process of elimination, the sound must have played a key role in my appreciation of the film.

John talks Mixing:

I just happen to have seen all the nominees here. I can’t say I can really judge a mix that well, but I’ll point out that The King’s Speech seems like an odd choice for a sound category. What kind of audio landscape is this? Most of the scenes have two characters talking in a room with whimsical music playing in the background.

The Social Network probably has the most noticeably-mixed scene of the year with its nightclub scene. Cranking up the techno music to nearly drown out the conversation is an interesting choice. And maybe I’m falling into the more = better trap, but I’ll choose Inception for the same reason I’ll choose it in a lot of categories: there’s so much going on that the technicians who make it coherent deserve some recognition.

There’s been a lot of talk about this year being a great year for animation. I went through the list of eligible animated features this year and… not so much. Actually, last year was a much better year for animated films. Look towards that crop for a group of entertaining and ambitious films.

So what if I had a ballot? Well, I would have had to see more of these, for one. Voters must see 80% of eligible films and then award scores from 6-10 to those films. The Academy defines 10 as excellent, 8 good, 7 fair, and 6 poor. To me, this means a 6 can run the score between mildly disliked and outright hated. A film must achieve an average score of 7.5 to be nominated.

And unfortunately The Illusionist, one of my most anticipated films, has not come to DC yet. When it does I’ll see it and add it to the list.

Despicable Me: 7

A cute movie, but not particularly noteworthy. It also isn’t all that funny. It just doesn’t have any spark to make it memorable.

How to Train Your Dragon: 8

I wasn’t bowled over by this one as so many seemed to be. But it is charming and has some terrific animation. A couple flying scenes really use the 3D well.

Idiots and Angels: 6

Bill Plympton has two Oscar nominations for shorts and I like that he brings a neat, hand-drawn style to this year’s race. The wordless plot follows a jerk who sprouts angel wings and changes his life. But it’s actually really boring, unfortunately.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole: 6

A standard, poorly-drawn (in plot and character development, not animation) fantasy film. But with owls. It does have some beautiful animation and I bet all the flying looked great in 3D.

Megamind: 6

I had been looking forward to this one for a long time due to its terrific premise: a supervillian whose life loses meaning after defeating his superhero foe. Unfortunately it’s seriously deficient in humor and the plot is not nearly as clever as the premise.

My Dog Tuplip: 8

A very nice film based on JR Ackerly’s memoir of his time with his often misbehaving dog. The story is amusing, touching, and frank while the hand-drawn animation style is neat. Oddly, it’s not a film for children as a surprising amount of it deals with topics like Tulip’s urination habits and procreation.

Shrek Forever After: 6

At least it’s a huge improvement over the putrid Shrek the Third. It also has a lot of good jokes. The plot is awful and barely thought-out, however. There’s nothing to enjoy between hilarious one-liners.

Tangled: 6

Another one that just didn’t move me like it did others. It always seems to be lacking something: a joke that doesn’t quite connect, an emotional connection that doesn’t quite hit home, a plot point that doesn’t quite work.

The animation is also disappointing and sort of drab. I think part of it is that I saw it in 2D. Some scenes that aren’t visually interesting are probably improved by 3D. One romantic scene surrounded by floating lanterns is dull in 2D but I bet looks neat in 3D. Similarly, Rapunzel’s animated hair doesn’t stand out as much.

Toy Story 3: 9

Again, can’t really say it slayed me like it seemed to everyone else, but still very good with a tight story.

I couldn’t see everything (for some it was actually impossible) and these are the other eligible films:

  • Box office bomb Alpha and Omega
  • DVD sequel given a qualifying run to try to push the category over the threshold for five nominees (which it did not) Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue
  • Animated hybrid Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
  • Asian imports Summer Wars (Japan) and The Dream of Jinsha (China)
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