Frankenweenie

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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Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best Alex (Ryan O’Nan) is booted from his band, dumped by his girlfriend and fired from his job singing songs dressed like a dayglo moose, and he has no idea what to do next. Luckily, a stranger named Jim (Michael Weston) does, and soon the two set out on a multi-city tour singing original songs backed by a selection of children’s musical instruments/toys and learning the value of friendship and being true to yourself. O’Nan also wrote and directed this low-fi gem, and the result is a sweet and funny look at lives in flux. It also features a handful of incredibly catchy songs that may have you checking Amazon or iTunes for availability. (Yes, there is an album.) You’ll find yourself smiling through most of the film, either from the simple and addictive songs or from the familiar faces sharing the screen for a few minutes here and there including Arielle Kebbel, Jason Ritter, Christopher McDonald, Andrew McCarthy and others. [Extras: Featurette, outtakes, live performance, Q&A, short films, trailer]

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The Best Horror Movies of 2012

Another year has come and mostly gone and hundreds, if not thousands, of young, stupid, misbehaving teenagers have been lost at the hands of ghosts, apparitions, psychos, monsters, animals, and families with strange murder dynamics. Like any responsible site, it’s now our job to look back on a year of cinematic chaos and movie madness and sort all of this into an easy digestible list full of horrors! And family films! Because really, 2012 in horror wasn’t all that violent, but it was reflective and satisfying in a familiar way. Onward!

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Tim Burton is not a fan of the horizontally-challenged. That’s the conclusion I reached from watching Frankenweenie, an otherwise very pleasant return to form for for the director. What isn’t so pleasant is how every paunchy character — the mayor, the gym coach, and the chubby kid whose name doesn’t matter — is cackled at by Burton and turned into a visual punch-line. Burton portrays these characters in a way that seems antithetical to how most people perceive him and his films… with a casual dash of mean-spiritedness. The one constant in Burton’s films, aside from Johnny Depp obviously, is that he’s always championed the outcasts and made them the eventual heroes of their worlds. Think of the Goth cutter Edward Scissorhands defeating the jock bully, the goofy Amish kid saving the day in Mars Attacks, the friendless Charlie Bucket outlasting the truly bad kids to win the chocolate factory, etc. Looking back at his work, though, it seems clear that Burton himself has been acting the bully when it comes to even the mildly obese. They’re made to be clumsy, goofy, obnoxious and irritating, and if they don’t exist strictly as a visual gag they’re almost sure to be a villain. Can you think of one overweight hero or true good guy in his films? I can’t. Why would a man so feverishly in favor of defending and uplifting outsiders himself single out a specific group of people to consistently bully throughout his career? Hell if I know, but […]

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31 Days of Horror - October 2011

They said it couldn’t be done. A fifth year of 31 Days of Horror? 31 more terror, gore and shower scene-filled movies worth highlighting? But Rejects always say die and never back away from a challenge, so we’ve rounded up the horror fans among us and put together another month’s worth of genre fun. Enjoy! Synopsis In the live action short film that inspired the full-length stop-motion film in 2012, young Victor Frankenstein turns to the powers of science and electricity to bring his dog Sparky back to life. After his experiment is a success, the young boy must try to hide the cute, misunderstood monstrosity from an easily frightened neighborhood.

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Boiling Point

Before we even start one might ask, “Does Tim Burton need defending?” Obviously, he does (or else why would I write this?), and he needs it because the Tim Burton of today is not the Tim Burton we know and love. Or is he? Dun dun dun! Virtually everyone you come across will have a soft spot for his early works like Edward Scissorhands, Batman, and Beetlejuice and many hold a great respect for his work on Ed Wood and Big Fish. But after a series of perceived missteps, it’s as though Burton’s stock with more movie-savvy people has dropped, even as he’s garnered some serious monetary success.

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Frankenweenie

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that’s taking it easy on this Friday evening. Expect fun, happy thoughts heading your way in the news rundown below… We begin this relaxed Friday evening edition of MNAD with a shot from the Frankenweenie art exhibition currently going down at Disney’s California Adventure. Our friends at ScreenCrave posted some shots from around the gallery. As you know, I was quite fond of Frankenweenie. And I like art shows.

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FRANKENWEENIE

Editor’s note: Halloween comes early with this week’s release of Frankenweenie. For some delicious review snacks to go with your candy corn, here is a re-run of our Fantastic Fest review of the film, published just two weeks ago, on September 20, 2012. Since 1984, Tim Burton has directed fifteen feature films. And according to my research assistant Siri, eleven of those fifteen went over well (and were made “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes) with critics. So it’s not outside the realm of possibilities that Burton could be considered a great director. Unfortunately for the man behind Edward Scissorhands and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, a number of those not-so-fresh movies have come in recent years. Alice in Wonderland was a messy 3D “experience” and Dark Shadows was laughable, and not in a good way. If you ask any movie-loving member of the internet community what they think of Tim Burton these days, the answer is more than likely to skew negative. That’s because we have the collective short term memory of Leonard from Memento when it comes to directors. Lucky for us, 2012 Tim Burton still remembers the guy he was in 1984, and has since returned to direct Frankenweenie, his black-and-white stop-motion ode to classic monster movies and the bond between a boy and his dog, based on the 1984 short of the same name.

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Tim Burton directing Frankenweenie

No matter how much it may seem to be true in the age of The Internet, a director is not the sum of his or her most recent work. Often we find ourselves caught up in the fast-paced “what have you done for me lately” societal convention and we forget about what someone may have given us in a different time. Such is the plight of Tim Burton. Taken as a whole, his filmography may ultimately stand among the elite of his generation. Edward Scissorhands, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Batman, Ed Wood and Beetlejuice amongst his more iconic works. His gothic style and ability to connect us to the loner at the heart of many of his tales have become a hallmark of his long, successful career. But it’s a career tainted with a few more recent miscues. Ask a number of internet movie lovers what they think of Tim Burton’s movies, and long-term amnesia sets in. All we seem to remember are the recent failures, not the successes of our childhood. These were the thoughts running through my head moments prior to sitting down with the director for the first time in my career. There, just outside a large wooden hotel conference room door, I was uncharacteristically nervous. Sure, he’s just another director, a public figure — one who has more to lose if he says the wrong thing than I do if I mess up a question — but he’s also a filmmaker and artist whose work could be seen as landmarks […]

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Fantastic Fest: Martin Landau

Actor Martin Landau has been in the business of making movies and delighting audiences for over 50 years. There isn’t much, at this point, that he’s not seen. From working with directors named Hitchcock and Coppola to winning an Oscar in the role of Bela Lugosi in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, he’s had more than a few moments worth remembering. It’s the kind of talent that demands reverence. The kind of man you’d like to sit with and listen to for hours on end. No questions. No soundbytes. Just stories. The premiere of Frankenweenie at Fantastic Fest 2012 brought just that kind of opportunity. Before I was even able to sit down at the table for our interview, there was an energy about him. There, in an otherwise large and empty conference room at the Austin Four Seasons hotel, sat a man ready to tell me a story. Before I made contact with the seat, he was already off like a shot. While he may not be as physically nimble as he was earlier in his career, never has a mind been sharper. And in me, he found a captive audience ready to listen and share.

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Fantastic Fest

What is Movie News After Dark? After a few days of not posting, who even knows anymore. As many of you have seen, this week began Fantastic Fest. And as I’ve done every year without learning any important lessons or growing as a person, I made the mistake of thinking I could take on the first few days of Fantastic Fest and publish a few entries into the Movie News After Dark series. Several alcoholic beverages, seven films and a half-bottle of ibuprofen later and I’m once again in a position to learn a powerful lesson about overcommitment (I won’t). Fear not though, good friends and beloved readers, as Movie News After Dark has a hero. He just doesn’t start until Monday.

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Joss Whedon

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the exact thing that your pop culture obsessed sensibilities needs after a long hard day of talking about the latest iPhone on Twitter. We begin this evening with that picture of Joss Whedon holding Captain America’s shield on the set of The Avengers. Not just because we like that shot, but because Whedon is talking about his SHIELD TV show in a new interview with MTV. He’s talking about new characters who aren’t superheros, but underdogs. Also notable up top is this excellent interview with Chris Evans, who has also been known to hold that shield.

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Austin Cinematic Limits

I have been anxiously awaiting Fantastic Fest 2012 (September 20-27) ever since the carnivalesque tomfoolery of the Fantastic Fest 2011 closing party. Year after year, Tim League and the Fantastic Fest programmers have totally blown me away with their impeccable curating of genre films. And the parties… Oh, the parties! If my liver could talk, the stories it would tell… If history serves, Fantastic Fest 2012 will continue to expand upon its awesomeness, so this year will probably be ten times more amazing than last year’s festival. The announcements that Fantastic Fest has made so far with the first wave and second wave of programming have already solidified the fact that this will be the best damn Fantastic Fest of them all. First off, Tim Burton will be in attendance at the world premiere of Frankenweenie on the opening night of Fantastic Fest 2012. Sure, I have not been a fan of most of his recent work, but that makes him no less of a cinematic genius in my mind. And, while on the subject of this year’s festival guests, I pretty much peed my pants with excitement when I heard that Rian Johnson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt will be coming to Fantastic Fest with their film Looper. Color me thrilled!

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column that’s picking up the pieces as Hollywood takes off for an extended mid-week holiday weekend. Sure, the streets of Burbank are empty at the moment (quick, someone sneak onto the Paramount Lot and steal a rough cut of Star Trek 2!), but there’s plenty of news and notes to go around. We’re just that good, friends. We begin this evening with a shot of Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) and Rinko Kikuchi (The Brothers Bloom) in Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim wearing futuristic robot driving suits. Not only did Shock Till You Drop pull these from the pages of Entertainment Weekly, they also scored a pretty in-depth synopsis.

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FRANKENWEENIE

The only thing in life better than Fantastic Fest would be winning the lottery while you’re at Fantastic Fest. Like every year, we’ll be covering the hell out of it with a preternatural dedication that often requires us writing our reviews with straight jackets on. That’s a lot harder than it sounds when you’re also singing karaoke and drinking a high quality concoction of hooch. The full fest line up hasn’t been announced yet, but it will undoubtedly be full of movie goodness, and the opening night film promises to set the tone. The flick? Tim Burton‘s forthcoming Frankenweenie – which promises a return to stop motion, a returning to working with John August and a return to a story from his youth that finally gets a feature-length treatment. The movie hits theaters October 5th, but Fantastic Fest attendees will see it before anyone else. Hopes are high here because Burton seems to have lost his way as of late, crafting stuff in his wheelhouse that feels stale, but perhaps the solution to the rut is to dig deeper into it. To return to the kind of magic this morbid magician built his name on. It’s a hell of a way to kick things off. And this poster for the fest is a great way to celebrate the end of everything:

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Have we learned no lessons from Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”? Nothing about the consequences of playing God and reanimating the flesh? The inevitable disasters that accompany messing with the lines between life and death and–ooh! cute puppy! Fine, you can’t blame young Victor Frankenstein (voice of Charlie Tahan) for bringing his beloved pup Sparky back to life in Tim Burton‘s Frankenweenie – the dog is the kid’s best friend, after all. And damn if this second trailer for the film doesn’t make zapping life back into the dead look easy…too easy. Burton’s long-awaited feature take on the ‘weenie has already gifted us with one adorable trailer, but this longer take on some familiar material now presents a major obstacle for Victor and Sparky’s continued happiness – namely, pesky neighborhood kids who want to reanimate the dead too. Whatever happened to safe stuff, like playing video games and eating ice cream? It’s alive, it’s aliiiiiiivvvveeeee…after the break.

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Aural Fixation - Large

With Dark Shadows set to hit theaters this weekend, Warners hosted a small Q&A this past Tuesday to highlight what will be composer Danny Elfman and director Tim Burton’s fourteenth film together. I am notorious for getting lost on studio lots (I once accidentally wandered into a background shot during the filming of Private Practice while looking for a screening room), but I was pleased (and relieved) when I arrived and realized this event was being held outside making it easy to find (although the long line of Elfman fans flanking the venue was also a pretty clear indicator). It was a nice change of pace to be outside on a warm afternoon and seemed to put everyone in a good mood. While the Q&A was moderated, the goal of the afternoon was primarily to open the floor up to the fans and have them ask the questions. This can be a precarious opportunity when the questions are unfiltered (and sometimes cringe worthy) as anyone who has attended a Q&A can attest to. However this afternoon the questions (save for a few – no, Oingo Boingo will not be getting back together) were incredibly thoughtful and interesting. Elfman noted that doing events like this are something he gladly takes time to do as he loves interacting with fans and this was clear as he took every question seriously and gave each person his undivided attention when answering. The event was also to commemorate the release of Elfman and Burton’s 25th Anniversary […]

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For a film that reportedly got a young Tim Burton fired from Disney, that same studio sure seems set on making Frankenweenie a big event film for them this autumn. Burton’s film, an expanded version of his 1984 live-action short that apparently didn’t go over so well the Disney honchos way back when, will now be getting an IMAX release on its already-announced wide release date of October 5. The film will be both the first black and white film and the first stop-motion animated picture to hit IMAX screens. Like Burton’s original short, Frankenweenie is a family-friendly spin on Mary Shelley’s classic novel “Frankenstein.” In Burton’s world, Victor Frankenstein isn’t a doctor driven to extremes by his desire to reanimate the dead, however, he’s just a kid who has lost his beloved pet dog Sparky. Young Victor takes it upon himself to bring Sparky back from the dead and some sweet and clever hijinks ensue. I don’t think Sparky kills anyone, and I am pretty sure he’s not concerned with learning to read, but who knows just how deeply Burton committed to his source material. Nathan showed us the teaser trailer for the film last week, and I’m still cooing over how perversely cute it looks (not to mention how cuddly Sparky, a dead animal brought back to life, appears to be). While I’ve never identified myself as a Tim Burton fan in the least, Frankenweenie looks to be both cute and clever, and I can’t stop myself from […]

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