Brave

Best Animated Feature

Best Animated Feature is the youngest current Academy Award category, first given out in 2002 (to Shrek). It is often one of the easiest to predict, perhaps because of its youth but more likely because of the short list of films that qualify every year. There’s usually a very clear front-runner, and more than half of the time it’s been Pixar. That’s not the case this year. Competition is alive and well in the Best Animated Feature race. Here are the nominees with my prediction in red:

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ted_02037204

Once upon a time, the Oscar nominations were filled with titles unfamiliar to the regular Joe. Not unknown, necessarily, but at least not widely seen. But today, thanks to all kinds of home video platforms and theatrical distribution for even the short film nominees, it’s not always so impossible to see everything before the big night. To help those of you wishing to be completists, I’ve listed all of this year’s recently announced Oscar nominees and noted how and where you can see them, whether presently or soon enough. It may not be entirely doable, as some foreign films haven’t officially been released here, including one that doesn’t even yet have a date, and some titles are in the middle of their theatrical to DVD window. But there are a bunch that can be streamed right this moment on your computer via Amazon, Google, YouTube and other outlets, each of which I’ve marked accordingly courtesy of GoWatchIt. Only three are through Netflix Watch Instant, by the way (How to Survive a Plague, The Invisible War and Mirror Mirror). And one short has been embedded in the post. 

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JENNIFER LAWRENCE and BRADLEY COOPER star in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

The 70th Golden Globe Awards will be held tomorrow night, and I invite you to join myself and FSR’s awards guru, Daniel Walber, for live-blog commentary during the ceremony. We’ll try to keep it smart, avoid too much snark and will likely be obeying the rules of the drinking game that co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have devised. It will also hopefully be more conversational than remarks we could have just tweeted, in order that I can turn the discussion around as a more readable post-event recap of the night. In case you’re too busy paying attention to your TV to also read our words simultaneously. Anyway, you can’t head into a big awards telecast viewing without predictions for what you think will win. Daniel and I seem to agree on exactly half of the movie categories. So, maybe it won’t be such a predicable night. Check out our choices after the break and give us your own predictions in the comments. If you do better than either of us, we commend you in advance (and maybe at the end of our GG coverage too).

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12year_disappointments

If there’s one word I think of that’s best tied to the story of film in 2012, it’s “disappointing.” That’s not to say that 2012 was a disappointing year for movies. I don’t know if it was the best in a while, as some of my fellow critics claim, but then I still haven’t seen a lot of the “best” titles of the year. What I do know is that there were enough movies that really, really, really disappointed a lot of people, and so I feel like I heard — or read — the word “disappointing” more than any other. Whether it was a long-awaited prequel to a classic helmed by the original’s director or the expected return to form for a filmmaker or a final installment of a much-worshipped superhero trilogy or a reboot of a beloved comic-based franchise or a new animated feature from a usually dependable studio, there were plenty of major releases that turned out to be less than satisfying. At least for some.

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Pixar_Easter_Eggs_Brave

“It’s like filling an ice tray. They like to fill it very carefully, one cube at a time, until it’s all even. I’d rather fill the sink with water, stick the ice tray under the sink, and pull it out. Fill ’em all up at once.” That’s Mark Andrews comparing the animation process to submerging  a slotted piece of plastic into water. In his interview with Steve Pond at The Wrap, Andrews spoke directly about his vision for Pixar — one that runs a bit counter to what they’ve employed to find success for over a decade. Emerging from TV animation, the Brave director is used to a bit more speed. “It was a really good testing ground, because it makes you go with your gut and try stuff out and just roll with it. And once I got into features and saw how slow everybody works, I thought, OK, fine. I’ll keep at my same speed, and just get through more stuff.” Since Toy Story in 1995, Pixar has released about a movie a year (skipping 1996,1997, 2000, 2003 and 2005) as well as a number of shorts. Presumably, Andrews would fill in those gaps by ensuring the studio is producing at least one movie every year. Where there’s even more room for change is in the infamously long gestation period for Pixar perfection. On the other hand, it’s tough to argue with their track record, even if you believe it’s fallen off in the past few years because of commercialization (the Cars franchise) […]

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Brave

In just a few months, a team of holiday warriors, an orange environmentalist and 19 other animated hopefuls will battle for an Oscar. Of course by then the number will have been whittled down to a handful (probably 5), but the astounding fact remains that this year features more award-submitted animated features than ever before. There are widely-released, popular entries like Hotel Transylvania, ParaNorman and Pirates! (THR has an excellent run-down of the entire list), but the large and diverse queue once again raises the problem inherent in having an animated category: animation is not a genre. While most of the films are aimed squarely at the young and young at heart, there’s also the wildcard Liar’s Autobiography which uses 17 different animation styles to tell the story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman. That dark horse is awkwardly shoehorned into a category that might also be called “Best Family Film” at this point.There’s also Hey Krishna, an entry from India that tells about the childhood years of the dairy-loving God, and “Best Talking Animal Animated Film” could be its own subcategory this year (although it’s unclear what species The Lorax is). Since the category has cemented its own importance (and arguably achieved the goal of placing a spotlight on animated work), we have to ask every year whether it’s time for this style of movie to stand on its own in the “regular” categories. With Toy Story 3 being nominated for Best Picture at the 2011 broadcast and an undeniably […]

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Reject Recap: The Best of Film School Rejects

This was a major holiday week in America, so FSR content was a bit lighter than usual. And yet you may have been too busy traveling to follow the site over the past few days anyway. If so, the most important thing you missed is our post highlighting all the things we’re thankful for this year. Among them is you, whether you’re one of the longtime loyal or one of the many who’ve just started reading us this year. Now, even though the holiday is a couple days past, we want to thank you for once again catching up with us here at the Reject Recap as we give you another rundown of our best reads from the past seven days. As always, first we remind you to check out our reviews of this week’s new releases: Life of Pi; Red Dawn; Hitchcock; Rust and Bone; and The Central Park Five. We also re-posted our Silver Linings Playbook review since the film went wider this week. Among the films, it looks like we recommend Rust and Bone and Central Park Five the most. We haven’t published a review of Rise of the Guardians yet, but we invite you to read our interview with the animated film’s director, Peter Ramsay, the introduction for which offers some critical praise. This week we also watched and commented on new trailers for Now You See Me, Parental Guidance, Admission, Chasing Ice and Jack the Giant Slayer. Watch those and all our latest Short Film […]

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I’ve never been accused of being particularly smart with money. For the longest time I thought having an “addictive personality” was a good thing, like people really couldn’t get enough of you, which I thought was applicable, but it turns out the real definition is just as apt. You see, I have always been a collector of things. All sorts of stuff. If I liked it, not only did I want it, but I wanted all of it. Whether it was a complete run of the original GI Joe comics (I ended up with around 130 of the 155), a complete run of The ‘NAM, vending machine toys, or movies, I had to have them. I had to own them. As a born sucker, apparently, I was the perfect target for “Collector’s Editions,” “Special Editions,” and everything else you can call a release to convince someone that it’s part of a larger whole. Sometimes, it was worth it. Sometimes it was really worth it, like getting the Evil Dead films in Book of the Dead format. Awesome. But often, it was just a sham – and things have gotten worse. Much worse. What’s so special about these editions anyway?

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Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Nitro Circus: The Movie Nitro Circus is a group of friends who routinely perform dangerous stunts for their own entertainment, and the roster includes folks with names like ‘Street Bike’ Tommy, ‘Special’ Greg Powell and Arron ‘Wheelz’ Fotheringham. They’re like the Jackass crew, but instead of stapling frogs to their nut sacks or seeing who can fart the biggest fireball these guys (and one gal) do actual stunts involving motorcycles, cars, modified Big Wheels and more. It’s a massive difference, because instead of wanting them to get hurt you’re wanting to see them succeed. They also truly appreciate each other before, durring and after the stunts as opposed to trying to humiliate each other on camera. This is a fun and suspenseful watch, but as a reminder Pick of the Week status doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a recommended buy, just that it’s a release worthy of attention. Also available on Blu-ray. [Extras: Deleted scenes, featurettes, interview]

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Pacific Rim

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column about movie news that wasn’t exactly nightly this week, so it’s giving you a Friday edition with a little extra umph… We begin this evening with one of four new images from Pacific Rim, courtesy of the most recent edition of Empire magazine. It features Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba and those sweet, shiny suits worn by the drivers of the giant-ass robots in Guillermo del Toro’s exciting next film. Now, when are we going to get a shot at those robots in action?

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Eagle-eyed fans of Pixar can tell you that the studio is a big fan of littering their movies with Easter Eggs; which is a fun way of saying they stick junk from their past films in the background of their current films. Most prominently, they have a long standing tradition of hiding the Pizza Planet truck – which first appeared in the original Toy Story – in every film that they make (other than its strange snub in The Incredibles). Want proof? This Pixar Wiki entry on the truck has compiled a screen grab of each case of this rusty junker showing up in a Pixar product. But what about Brave, you may be asking? Well, the film has been out for a couple weeks now, and Walt Disney Studios seems to be worried that people are going to stop talking about it, so they’ve emailed around some handy screen grabs that point out the secrets they have in store for us this time around. Both come in the scene where the film’s princess protagonist, Merida, visits the wood carving shop of the tricky old witch she strikes a deal with. The first image, which should come as no shock, features Toy Story’s now iconic pizza delivery truck. Look, it’s right there sitting on her workbench:

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a vicious sonofabitch, back from a weekend of debauchery (and candle-lit research) to bring you news and notes from around the film blogosphere. The best links end up here. If they don’t, you should email them in so that we can include them tomorrow. No seriously, do it. We begin this evening with a first look at Naomi Watts as Princess Diana in Caught in Flight, a film from Downfall director Oliver Hirschbiegel. The film will see Di’s relationship with Dr. Hasnat Khan, who will be played by Naveen Andrews. Because all those blonde-haired dames love a little Sayeed. Also because it really happened, in real life.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a hunter of the best stories of the day. Most days. Pretty much every week. It works 24/7 to give you one article per night. Because sleep is for the week. And whatnot. We begin this evening with a new image from Breaking Bad and its upcoming season five premiere, a shot of a particular character who is likely to be the most interesting story. At least, early on in the season. How will everyone’s favorite henchman Mike (Jonathan Banks) react to the events that concluded season four? This new image gives us a bit of a preview.

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The Dark Knight Rises Billboard

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly commitment. We want you to have a rundown of the best articles of the day. Newsworthy, opinionated or otherwise, we count down today’s best because we owe it to you, our beloved reader. We begin this evening with the coolest piece of Dark Knight Rises marketing that you’re likely to see, courtesy of the folks at /Film. Spotted at the intersection of Sunset and La Brea avenues in Hollywood, this billboard is not a graphic, but an actual billboard that appears to have exploded into the shape of the bat symbol. And here, we thought Christopher Nolan wasn’t down with 3D.

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Brave

Brave has already made a milestone for Pixar as it marks the 13th straight release to debut at #1. No surprise for a brand that’s loved around the world and continually crafts memorable movies that resonate with children and old children alike. But where does it rank against other Pixar openings? According to numbers from Box Office Mojo, The Movie Formerly Known as The Bear and the Bow made $66.7m domestically in its first weekend, making it the fifth highest in the production company’s history. Here’s the full ranking:

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Pixar Scenes We Love

The love of discussing movies is something you and I share, dear reader. Otherwise, what the heck are we doing here? And with few exceptions, there isn’t any kind of film that I love talking about more than the various works of animation created by talented artists, renderers and storytellers throughout the history of the medium. Few do it better and merit as much discussion as the folks from Emeryville, California’s own Pixar Animation Studios. And with the release of their 13th film this week, a princess story called Brave, it’s reason enough to discuss some of the best individual scenes from the Pixar catalog. Personally, I’ve never been hooked on franchise pieces like Toy Story or Cars, but have always loved Pixar’s more stand-alone efforts. Many of which, as you’ll see from the assembled list, come from visionary storytellers Brad Bird, Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter. These filmmakers and their teams have pushed the envelope, even inside the already expansive confines of Pixar’s world. From their films I’ve assembled six Scenes We Love from the films of Pixar Animation Studios. It may not be the definitive list, but it’s certainly the one that lives within my own movie-loving heart.

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Brave

As an entertainment company, Disney has never been short of stature in a few key areas. Most notably, they’ve always been good at selling fantastical stories and moving movie-sized boxes of merchandise in their wake. They built an entire theme park around their properties, constantly move home video releases in and out of a metaphorical vault, and they always seem to come up with stories that serve two purposes: capture the adoration of youth and then get them to convince their parents to buy them things to fuel those fires of love. And for years, fairy tales and princess stories have been their bread and butter. Conversely, the folks at Pixar have always marched to a slightly different beat. They’ve always simply made stories they thought were fun, not that they necessarily thought we’d buy. Movies about talking toys, runaway fish, and main characters who can’t even talk. For Pixar (even though they became an official part of Disney in 2006 and had a working relationship with the Mouse House well before that), they’ve never made anything that felt like a Disney movie. That is, until their latest film, Brave. For better or worse, a product of princess story perception or real influence, Brave is a Disney movie at heart. And depending upon who you ask, it’s either a major misstep for Pixar or an evolutionary one for its parent company.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s like a nightly version of American Top 40, but with movies and no Casey Kasem. Actually, it’s nothing like American Top 40. It’s just about movies. We begin tonight with a piece of Drew Struzan’s The Thing poster for Mondo, all part of the Alamo Drafthouse’s Summer of 1982 series. Even though it’s reminiscent of the original poster for the film, it’s still quite cool. Movies.com also has a pretty solid interview with the postering legend, which you should read. And now, the news…

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s for fun. Really, just for fun. We begin this evening’s rundown with a picture of Michael Bay riding Transformers: The Ride alongside the lovely Jenna Wolfe from The Today Show and some nameless youths who probably won a contest. Or they’re someone’s nephew. Either way, they are there. With Bayhem. Riding through 3D Transformer mayhem. Now that we’ve had a rhyme, here’s the rundown of today’s best reads…

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Pixar Character Logo

If there’s any outfit that celebrates the team sport aspect of filmmaking, it’s Pixar. What began as the Graphics Group at LucasFilm has evolved into its own behemoth of wonder and magic. Not just pioneers of technology, they’ve sought to invent in order to put stories out into the world – using computer animation for the ancient purpose of spinning tales and crafting characters. Led by Ed Catmull, the production house (which was bought by Disney in 2006) boasts luminaries like John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich and many more. There newest film, Brave, is in theaters this week, so here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from RenderMan and company.

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