ParaNorman

Basic CMYK

Tomorrow, during the Academy Awards ceremony and telecast, Mondo will be unveiling new posters for sale tied to the Oscar-nominated films (visit the shop here). It’s their second year doing a special series like this, and you may recall last year’s designs for Rango, Hugo and others. As you can see above, we’ve gotten a preview of their 2013 crop with artwork revealed for posters for The Master, Les Miserables and ParaNorman. You can see these in full after the jump along with a massive gallery featuring some older designs for current and past Oscar nominees.

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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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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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Paranorman Commentary Track

The commentary tracks on animated films are destined to be different beasts than their live-action cousins if only because there’s little opportunity for onscreen performers to contribute. Sure the voice actors can join in, but they’re a minor element of production most likely severely lacking in anecdotes. So that leaves listeners with filmmakers unused to performing directly to an audience. But that doesn’t mean they’re not entertaining. ParaNorman is the only release I recommended buying in this week’s Blu-ray/DVD column, and it’s not difficult to see why. The makers of Coraline have returned with a funny, Amblin-like tale that finds real heart and drama in a story about a young boy who can see and speak with the dead. Norman is shunned by pretty much everyone, but when an evil witch’s curse threatens to raise the dead and destroy the town he becomes an unlikely and unexpected hero. Please note, there are spoilers below, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet skip this and go read my ParaNorman set visit instead.

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Drinking Games

Even though October passed us by almost a month ago, Focus Features has decided to drop its brilliant stop-motion animated film ParaNornman during the Christmas season. Consider it a gift to all of us scary movie fans who can adore this sweet-yet-spooky film in the comfort of our own homes without kids in costumes ringing the doorbell, constantly interrupting to demand candy. Of course, since you’ll be enjoying this film at home, possibly eating the last reserves of your plastic jack-o’-lantern bucket, you can knock back a couple drinks in the process. But go easy on the spirits, considering this movie is good enough to remember without a hangover.

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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. In Search Of: Complete Series The universe is filled with mystery, and for several years the best place learn more about in on a weekly basis was the show In Search Of… with host Leonard Nimoy. The series tackled all manner of the unknown from aliens to the Bermuda Triangle to conspiracies to the Loch Ness Monster and beyond. The Bigfoot episode was where I first saw footage of the creature walking through the woods. Sure the video was later debunked, but it was magic unspooling across the screen and I still remember my first viewing. Several of the episodes are dated, but many of the topics remain mysteries to this day. Note: Amazon.ca has the set cheaper so we’re linking there. [Extras: Featurette, all eight episodes of the 2002 remake with Mitch Pileggi]

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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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Game of Thrones Board Game

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column dedicated to the cool, the weird, the entertaining, the brief, the good, the bad and the ugly of the entertainment news world. Also, there’s some philosophical talk about Sharktopus, because that’s just how the Internet rolls. We begin this evening with an image of a handmade Game of Thrones board game that is absolutely fabulous. Created by Fay Helfer, it’s basically a Risk board in the shape and detail of Westeros. And it’s brilliant.

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Editor’s note: With FSR favorite ParaNorman opening today, we thought it was only appropriate to re-post our very special set visit from the film, originally posted on May 21, 2012. I recently visited a nondescript building outside Portland, Oregon that would feel right at home in any corporate office park in America. Nothing about the bland, uninteresting exterior even hinted at what to expect beyond the front doors. There’s no sign outside to tell you where you are. No iconic sculptures alluding to what they do inside. Nothing at all that even hints at the harmonious blend of magic and technology within. But make no mistake, what LAIKA Studios is hiding inside those four generic-looking walls is nothing short of a revolution in film production…a revolution 115 years in the making. LAIKA is the studio behind 2009’s critical and commercial hit, Coraline, a film that utilized creepy but beautiful stop-motion puppetry to tell Neil Gaiman’s dark childhood fable. Their follow-up feature is an original work called ParaNorman. It’s an Amblin-like tale of a small New England town, a very special boy who can see and talk with the dead, and a zombie uprising that threatens to destroy them all. And yes, it’s a comedy. Keep reading for a peek behind the scenes of LAIKA Studios’ upcoming production, ParaNorman, and their secret, high-tech weapon…Rapid Prototype 3D printers.

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“An episode of Scooby-Doo directed by Sam Raimi” is how directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell describe ParaNorman. Their horror-comedy wears its influences proudly. From the John Hughes-esque ensemble to Jon Brion‘s whimsical take on a John Carpenter score, it’s all obvious. Tonally, ParaNorman doesn’t share much in common with LAIKA Studio’s Coraline, a far darker movie. And not only is ParaNorman different from Henry Selick’s film in content, but also in terms of production. Butler and Fell didn’t want to approach ParaNorman as a stop-motion picture, as they saw the technical restrictions in going that route. Instead, they approached the film as if it was live-action, and it shows in the film’s scope and playful camerawork. According to Butler and Fell, they didn’t want to play by the rules of stop-motion. Here’s what ParaNorman directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell had to say about the film’s epic production, how The French Connection and Ronin influenced their zombie car chase, and the future of stop-motion:

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It is possible for family films, like any other film genre (or, for that matter, any other entertainment medium), to play to the cheap seats. It’s just that in the case of family films, those seats are brightly colored, made of molded plastic, and help little Jimmy see over the lady in front of him at the theater. When a filmmaker resigns himself to aiming the core of their movie low enough that only the tiniest of funny bones will be struck, story and character development take an unfortunate back seat. This issue has been raised and examined in many reviews on this particular site, and often due to the fact that the family film under review is guilty of sacrificing craft for a demographic-pandering layup. ParaNorman also calls to mind this issue, but quite fortunately, that’s only because it stands as a sterling example of a film that exists free of that compromise. ParaNorman is the tale of a boy named, unsurprisingly, Norman, who has been blessed/cursed with the ability to converse with the dead. This ability, as one would expect, leads to his being ostracized by his peers, mocked by his sister, and even resented by his father. Norman’s typically benevolent visions of the other side become increasingly sinister and foretelling of a horrible fate facing his community. Are the sins of Blithe Hollow’s past threatening to destroy its future? Is Norman the only person equipped to halt the impending Armageddon? Will saving his town finally get the […]

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Russell Crowe in Noah

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a column about movies and stuff. With a particular focus on “and stuff.” We begin tonight with a shot of Russell Crowe as Noah, in the upcoming vision from director Darren Aronofsky. He’s looking quite grizzled, like an older version of his character from Gladiator. And that’s alright. Because that situation worked out pretty well. Then again, he also looks like a slightly older version of his Robin Hood…

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This contest is now closed. Thank you for entering! Laika Entertainment returns to screens with their first new film since their Academy Award-nominated Coraline with Sam Fell and Chris Butler‘s ParaNorman, a charming as all get-out 3D stop-motion comedy thriller about a boy with some very special (and very weird) capabilities. Young Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) doesn’t have a friend in the world – a living friend that is – because he can talk to ghosts and witches and, as it turns out, zombies. Those skills might not fly in the American middle school, but they certainly come in handy when his town (already saddled with a witch-hunting past) is overrun by the brain-eaters. To get you ready to battle whatever monsters who might wander into your town, we’re giving away one (1) prize packs from ParaNorman to one (that is 1) lucky winner. The grand prize pack includes: a $25 Visa gift card, a t-shirt, a keychain, a notebook, a pair of slippers (like Norman’s own), a toothbrush (also just like Norman’s!), and a backpack. To win one (1) prize pack from Sam Fell and Chris Butler’s ParaNorman, all you have to do is jump down into the comments section and let us know what your favorite old school horror film is (Norman is a big fan of classic thrillers and chillers). Please also provide your email address in your comment. This contest is only open to U.S. residents. The contest will close on Wednesday, August 15th, at […]

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This hasn’t been the most prolific of summers as far as blockbusters are concerned. The Avengers gave this season a promising start, but no action film came close to matching its scope and sheer love for fun. Last month was the most disappointing proof of that, with the very flawed Amazing Spider-Man and the messy finale we got with The Dark Knight Rises. However, there’s been a good run of independent releases so far — Killer Joe, Headhunters, Safety Not Guarnteed, Your Sister’s Sister, Take This Waltz, etc. —  and this August is no different, with plenty of small and greatly satisfying offerings to be discovered.

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What is Comic-Con News After Dark? It’s taking over for a few days while Movie News After Dark goes off into the wilderness to find stories unrelated to Doctor Who. It’s taken focus a little too seriously. Also, Comic-Con News After Dark already has plenty of news about Doctor Who, including… Tonight’s top photo: Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill and Matt Smith, best known as the cast of BBC’s Doctor Who. They appeared today at Comic-Con looking cool. Sunglasses are cool. Also, Karen is my dream girl.

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What to Expect at Comic-Con 2012

Check out a preview of what the Rejects will be up to this year at the San Diego Comic-Con, beginning with SDCC virgin Brian Salisbury… Having never been to Comic-Con, in fact having never before set foot in the state of California, I can’t help but feel a tinge of trepidation as I pack for San Diego. Chief among these concerns was whether I’d even get an adequate feel of the Con on my first outing as I darted from roundtable to roundtable, from press screening to blogger party. Would I leave my first Comic Con with no legitimate understanding of what keeps people coming back year after year? It was then I decided that, as a noob, it was best to experience the convention as a fan and not an industry professional. I needed to separate these two factions of my personality, to make a clean break from the behind-the-scenes journalism aspect and the intrepid geeks who walk the floor without the benefit of credentials. That’s when the idea of wearing a mask came into the picture, to disguise myself and resist the temptation of professional perks. I will walk the floors, stand in lines for panels in the various halls, and talk geek shop with the other attendees; providing journal entries for each day. This seems doubly fitting given the amount of cosplay that I’ve heard takes place at Comic Con. I will blend in even under fantastical vestments. So what character would I choose? What hero, outlaw, […]

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Nothing says “summer at the movies” quite like a metric ton of big name blockbusters flooding theaters near you – superheroes on top of superheroes, classic television series brought back from the dead, animated gems about finding yourself – oh my! But with the cinema summer growing ever-larger, the stakes being pushed ever-higher, and enough content to keep audience members in their seats ever-longer, a line has to be drawn somewhere. Which is why all the members of the Voting Body of Film School Rejects gathered together in our secret chambers to vote on just which films have won our Most Anticipated nod. Twenty films emerged from our complicated, decades-old voting process (read: a Google doc) to be crowned winners. Why twenty? Well, there are twenty weeks in the cinematic summer season (if you count May, which we do – April will be included next year if Hollywood keeps this up), and that should give you movie-lovers a reasonable goal to meet for the viewing season. We’ve even managed to pinpoint our most anticipated movie-going weekend of the summer – June 22nd, when four films open in theaters, all of which made our list. But beyond the mathematics that went into picking the summer’s best weekend, there were also some genuine surprises on the list – including big tentpole films missing completely (sorry, Battleship and Dark Shadows), some indies that sneaked in with lots of votes, a battle royale that went down between our number one and number two picks, […]

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The latest film from the makers of Coraline, Laika’s ParaNorman has a lot to live up to – fortunately, the studio’s next film looks to be just as sweet, funny, and damn dark as their first. Starring Kodi Smit-McPhee as the voice of Norman, he’s just not like other kids – he’s got wacky hair, his parents don’t understand him, he doesn’t really have a lot of friends. Oh, and he can see dead people. And he’s cool with it. “AbNorman,” as the mean kids at school call him, might be a little lonely, but with spirits swirling around him, he’s never alone. And hopefully, Norman’s prowess with the undead will work beyond just everyday ghosts, because his town is about to be besieged by zombies and witches. Oh, my. The film is one of our Most Anticipated Movies of the year, thanks to the strength of its first teaser and also, just how damn cute Norman is. The full trailer is finally here, and while it’s less atmospheric than the teaser, it does let us into Norman’s life, complete with a trainwreck pal, a cool sister, those parents who just don’t get him, the mean kids at school, and ghosts and zombies aplenty. Get hip to Norman’s lifestyle and watch the full trailer after the break.

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It’s already the second day of 2012, which means we’ll all be sober within the next day or two. It also means that we can officially start looking (through blurry eyes) ahead to the future. A future of promise and potential. A future of hope. A future of tingling anticipation that the road stretched out in front of us that leads to the cinema will be paved with gold. Will there be piles of excrement along the way? Of course, but we don’t know how many or how badly they’ll tarnish our yellow-bricked roller coaster ride. All we can see from this far out is the shimmering wonder of movies to come – the vast unknown that looks wonderful (and might just live up to the hype). In past years (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011), we’ve gone with a fairly arbitrary count of 20-30 movies. This year, we decided to prove that there were 52 movies worth prematurely celebrating (even though what we found were many more). That’s one for every week (even if there are some weeks with a few and some weeks with none at all). Regardless of the number, Rob Hunter, Neil Miller, Kate Erbland, Allison Loring, Landon Palmer, Brian Salisbury and Cole Abaius have joined forces to remind us all that there are a lot of great movies to hope for this year. Go grab a calendar and pencil in everything that gets your blood pressure up toward unsafe levels. It’s going to be a busy, flick-filled […]

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.18.2014
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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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