Kung Fu Panda 2

Oscar 2012 Predictions: Best Animated Film

The Best Animated Feature category first appeared in 2001 (Shrek was the winner), and a cartoon has taken home the prize every year since. Crazy, right? And while the Pixar juggernaut has won this category four years running, their decision to focus on profit with Cars 2 instead of quality has cost them the nomination. Their absence has left the field wide open, and for only the third time in the past decade there are five nominees vying for the award. Unlike some Academy Award categories, this year’s nominees for Best Animated Feature actually managed to include the year’s best animated feature. Even better? It’s going to win. The nominees are listed below with my predicted winner in red…

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It’s been a year filled with silent screen stars seeking redemption, the 1920s coming alive in Paris, a young boy searching for the first great director, sex addicts in New York City, horses going to war, maids of dishonor, and skulls getting crushed in elevators. Now it’s time to celebrate all of those things and more with the 84th annual Academy Awards. They’ve come a long way since the Hotel Roosevelt in 1929 (although sex addicts have almost always been a fixture). Get to ready to smile, ball your fists with snubbed rage, or be generally unsurprised. Here they are. The 2012 Oscar nominees:

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As we all sit here at Reject HQ, gathered around an absurdly long, but incredibly imposing, table discussing what to do with the nuclear missiles we just “creatively appropriated” from a breakaway Russian republic, it occurs to us that 2011 was a great year to be bad. For every boring, dopey, goody-good hero that popped up on the silver screen, there was a brilliant, super cool, woefully misunderstood villain doing everything he/she/it could to thwart the zero hero at every turn. So when Supreme Commander #1, better known to the world (and those pesky Avengers so they’ll stop blasting our lair) as Neil Miller, issued an official order (delivered by a specially-trained, fire-breathing, gun-toting alligator who lives in the moat) to construct a supersonic death ray…that assignment went to Kate “Femme Fatale” Erbland. But then I got asked to do this list of the 20 Best Villains of 2011, a decided promotion from my usual position as sinister cocktail-fetcher and cleaner of the diabolical gutters.

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The Best Films of 2011: The Staff Picks

As you may have noticed, this final week of 2011 has been almost completely taken over by our third annual Year in Review. It was born in 2009 out of our love for lists and your thirst for reading, discussing and ultimately hating them. And each year the entire project gets a little bigger, a little bolder and slightly more absurd. With that in mind, I’m once again proud to present you with The Best Films of 2011: The Staff Picks. Each of our 14 regular staff writers, contributors and columnists, almost all of whom have been with us the entire year, were asked to present their top 5 films, in no particular order (although many of them placed their top film at the top, as logical people tend to do), each with an explanation. Some even included curse words as a bonus to you, the reader. Read: The Best Films of 2010: The Staff Picks | The Best Films of 2009: The Staff Picks Once again, the Staff Picks are a testament to the diversity we have here at Film School Rejects, with picks ranging from the likely suspects (Take Shelter, Hugo, Shame) to the slightly more nerdy (Attack the Block, Super 8, The Muppets) to several movies that may not yet be on your radar (see Landon Palmer’s list for those). And once again, it’s with a deep sense of pride that I publish such a list, the best of 2011 as seen through the eyes of the movie […]

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The 10 Best Action Films of 2011

Some other sites or site runners may look down on lists, but those people are what are known as no-fun douche bags, because really, lists are awesome. They are short, easy to digest little morsels that you can wash down with a carbonated beverage, argue about, and take recommendations from. If you don’t like lists, you are worse than Hitler. You know what’s better than Hitler? Lots of stuff, like peanut butter cookies with little peanut butter cups pressed into them. That, and also these ten action movies, which are my favorite for the year. Yeah, you’ll probably disagree, so comment below or get your own damn website.

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Whereas Pixar has dominated the category in recent years, the sense that Cars 2 isn’t a shoe-in for awards season is offering a spotlight to a wider field. In fact, it’s also a wider field that will beget more nominees – if there are 16 eligible in the given year, 5 nominees will make the short list. If the numbers stay steady, this would mark the third time since the Best Animated Feature‘s inception in 2001 that there are more than 3 films up for the big prize. According to The Wrap, the list of films that have been submitted for consideration include: The Adventures of Tintin, Alois Nebel, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Arthur Christmas, Cars 2, A Cat in Paris, Chico & Rita, Gnomeo & Juliet, Happy Feet Two, Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, Kung Fu Panda 2, Mars Needs Moms, Puss in Boots, Rango, Rio, The Smurfs, Winnie the Pooh, and Wrinkles. Just because they’ve been submitted doesn’t meant they’re all eligible. Several haven’t done qualifying runs in Los Angeles theaters, and many are questionable because of their use of motion capture or live-action blend. In the mo-cap cases of Tintin, Happy Feet Two and Mars Needs Moms, filmmakers have been asked to discuss their methods and intentions with the process in order to prove eligible. The Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks are also animation/live-action hybrids, so their fate is unclear at this time. Without them, and without, say, the Czech Republic’s rotoscoped Alois Nebel, the […]

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The Reject Report

And around and around it goes. Kind of like the box office. It comes and goes, and sometimes you look around and wonder what exactly is changing? Well, the movies are getting bigger. The animation is getting slicker. And the sequels are starting to take over. They’ve even got PIXAR in their grubby claws this weekend. Cars 2 is the big Summer movie, the likeliest candidate to the the top spot, but where will it rank among the rest of Pixar’s slate? Does Bad Teacher have a shot at a big opening? Is Ryan Reynolds still flying around space or did he get eaten by the Super 8 monster? Okay, that last question probably won’t be broached, but we’ll hit on everything else in this week’s Reject Report.

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The Reject Report

In darkened theaters… In brightest lobbies… Yeah, I’m not finishing that. Instead I’m looking forward at what’s in those darkened theaters this weekend. We have Green Lantern. We have Mr. Popper’s Penguins. We also have the returning Super 8 looking to hold onto that nostalgia for one more weekend. One of these is sure to come out on top of the heap. The other two will be submerged into a vat of self-pity. Unless the winner is the penguin movie. Then all three films as well as American audiences should really take a hard look in the mirror and gauge their worth. But I’m not judging. It’s the Reject Report, and no evil shall escape our site. Lame.

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The Reject Report

Oh, yeah. It’s a verb now. It’s not easy for anyone to open a period piece with no A-list names and the only brand loyalty coming in the form of its director and producer. It’s even difficult for J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg, which would indicate why Super 8 underperformed in its opening weekend. Don’t get me wrong. $37m is a great opening. When you consider the sci-fi/family drama/coming of age story reportedly cost $50m, that $37m seems even more impressive. Analysts, myself included, were estimating in the $45-55m range, and much of that stemmed from Spielberg and Abrams, who is directing his first film that isn’t part of a large franchise with this one. We obviously overshot the estimate, but maybe some of us just wanted the film to perform better.

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The Reject Report

Imagine Brad Pitt standing on a desolate road holding a gun on director J.J. Abrams. Sitting in front of Abrams is the mystery box, that figurative enclosure in which Abrams stores the secrets of his latest project. Brad Pitt screams a phrase we haven’t heard him scream since 1995, and as Abrams reaches into the box to reveal what’s inside (hint: it’s not Gwyneth Paltrow’s head), a shot rings out. Abrams drops dead, but it isn’t Pitt’s gun that fired. It’s Judy Moody who is standing behind Pitt and who, as of now, is NOT having a bummer summer. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s a lame story with a stupid ending. You try writing these intros out every week. Let’s get to the number, okay?

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The Reject Report

Could have been a B-. Maybe even a C+. The point being X-Men: First Class rose to a somewhat acceptable occasion, about what was expected. Especially by analysts who realized the film wasn’t being backed by Hugh Jackman, the first time in the franchise, and was comprised of an entirely new cast. Add into that mix the idea that X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine were both such colossal disappointments, and it seems X-Men: First Class did rather well despite all it has going against it. It still opened larger than 2000’s original X-Men, but the film still came in fourth among the franchise’s debuts.

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The Reject Report

And I hope they’re teaching math. But this class is probably more about learning skills like flinging energy beams from your eyes or learning how to hone you telekinetic abilities. I kind of wish I had some of those right now. That way I’d know exactly how many audience members will be attending X-Men: First Class this weekend, and my numbers will be a bit more accurate than they were this time last week. Thanks a lot, Kung Fu Panda 2. Regardless, it seems pretty evident First Class will come in #1 this weekend, as it opens unopposed. That is, if you consider the gargantuan second weekend Hangover Part II is likely to have. Still, I’m sticking with my guns. First Class all the way, but its debut might not be as astonishing as some would hope. Let’s look into that more right now.

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Coming off the heels of box office news that Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides made more money in its standard showings than in its 3D showings, and a weekend in which the big 3D family release Kung-Fu Panda 2 opened softer than analysts were predicting, comes comments from Tim Burton regarding his upcoming films, and whether they will use 3D. As you might remember, Burton’s last film, Alice in Wonderland, used the oft derided 3D post conversion method and became one of the poster children for film’s that didn’t present well crafted 3D effects at all, but still charged the extra money for the ticket. When asked about 3D plans for his upcoming big screen adaptation of the vampire soap opera Dark Shadows, Burton said, “I have no plans for that.”

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news round-up that, for the time being, is keeping things brief. Memorial Day weekend is one that Hollywood generally takes off, so news is light. That said, there was plenty of discussion and artful expression happening all weekend that didn’t require us to sift through the virtual pages of The Hollywood Reporter. Read: there’s some cool stuff in tonight’s edition. The Times has a report that, for some of you, can’t come soon enough. 3D is fizzling and Hollywood is scared. The report focuses on the lopsided box office of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which took in far more dollars in 2D despite a major push in the other direction from Disney. Even Kung Fu Panda 2, an animated 3D family adventure, opened soft in the additional dimension. Perhaps this will prompt some changes to be made. It probably won’t, but a guy can dream.

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Boiling Point

Pointing out the flaws in Hollywood is easy – there are hundreds of them. Unfortunately for the entertainment system, I’m a fan of taking the low road and always pointing those flaws out. After all, it’s not easy to be mad every week without taking a few cheap shots. A child of the 80s, I’m a big fan of action. Guns, knives, swords, bullets, punches, jump kicks, Van Damme, you name it, I dig it. Hell, I’ll watch the shitty UFC/WWE vehicle movies that go straight to DVD just to see somewhere get punched in the eye socket. You’d think action movies would be easy to make and send to theaters. Toss in some fireballs, some blood, some roundhouse kicks – easy, right? Apparently not. I mean, sure, we get good action films every now and then, maybe even once a month – but how many more just fall flat? What’s wrong with Hollywood and action movies when one of the best, if not the best, action movies so far is the animated Kung Fu Panda 2?

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Let’s just get this out of the way. I was wrong. The Hangover Part II came out with a fury last Thursday and not only took the weekend with minimal effort but shook up some rankings on some very important records books. Upon its release it had already taken the #1 spot on the widest R-rated opening ever with 3615 screens under its belt (FYI, the previous record-holder for that was Watchmen with 3611 screens). While The Hangover Part II wouldn’t take the top for any other records beyond the size of its release, it would certainly reorganize some notable lists.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr follows Jamie Chung to Thailand, hoping to get married. Unfortunately, someone slips him roofies, which made him black out and spend a drunken night in Bangkok. Once he got out of that city, he headed over to China to become the new pot-bellied dragon warrior. After all, if a cartoon panda can do it, why can’t he? That didn’t stop him from spending another night in the hospital, and maybe a little time in a Bangkok jail. And then the real horror happened… Kevin saw The Tree of Life.

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Whether you’re trying to avoid the releases this week or augment them with even more movies, Your Alternate Box Office offers some options for movies that would play perfectly alongside of (or instead of) the stuff studios are shoving into the megaplex this weekend. This week features a group of grown men reliving their drunken nightmares in Thailand, a group of animated animals kicking Kung Fu ass throughout China, and one man taking an epic journey through everywhere ever.

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The Reject Report

Another Summer weekend, another slate of motion pictures fighting for your hard-earned dollar and precious minutes. But what could possibly pull it out and end up at the top of the heap this Memorial Day weekend? Could it be the one with the monkey, all cute and cuddly and human-like? Or could it possibly be the one with the monkey? Or even better yet, and this one is an outside shot, it could be the one that’s already been in release, the one with the monkey. Zombie monkey. One of these movies – it’s gonna be the one with the monkey – is going to come out on top. Let’s look a little closer at them and sort out which one it’s going to be. Monkey.

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If there’s one family movie franchise I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it’s the epic tale of Po the Kung Fu Panda and his merry band of fighting creature friends, the Furious Five. This sequel to the 2008 hit resurrects and expands upon the original’s blend of creatively filmed action, appealingly broad comedy and classic Chinese motifs interspersed with that age-old animation standard: cute animals. This time, Po the Dragon Warrior (Jack Black) and his team are called upon to protect China from Lord Shen (Gary Oldman), a peacock with a devious plan to right a past wrong and heavy machinery to back it up. The kung fu masters must face immense obstacles, not the least of which is Po’s sudden, shocking realization that his noodle-shop owning goose father (James Hong) isn’t his biological paterfamilias.

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published: 10.30.2014
B-
published: 10.29.2014
D+
published: 10.27.2014
C-
published: 10.24.2014
C-


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