January 24, 2012

Children Of The Animation Movie

Beat out Hollywood heavyweights Steven Spielberg and Pixar Animation Studios to collect surprise nominations in Oscar's peculiar animated feature race Tuesday, two obscure foreign movies being released by a tiny New York company. The French thriller "A Cat in Paris" and Spanish musical "Chico & Rita" - primarily hand-drawn movies little known outside the animation world - bested high-profile projects from perennial academy favorites Spielberg ("The Adventures of Tintin") and Pixar ("Cars 2").


Which Paramount is re-releasing for a limited one-week engagement Friday, and the DreamWorks Animation titles "Kung Fu Panda 2" and "Puss in Boots", three computer-animated Hollywood movies also made the list - Gore Verbinski's western comedy "Rango". "I'm amazed by the selection," said "Puss in Boots" director Chris Miller. "It's really wide open. It's been that way since the awards season kicked in. There's a lot of great films and different styles from some different countries. There's a lot of tradition in that part of the academy and respect for diversity."

The eligible Pixar film was not nominated, for the first time since the animated feature category was created in 2001. "For the last few years we've had a Pixar front-running film that was miles ahead of the other films," said animation historian Jerry Beck, editor of the website Cartoon Brew. "But this wasn't their year. Visually and technically, 'Cars 2' has got all the craft, but story-wise it was a kids' picture."

In which cameras record the movement of actors, then visual-effects artists and animators add to the performances, "Tintin" was made using the hybrid filmmaking technique of motion capture. How to treat "Tintin" was a matter of some debate in the animation community, however. Which received an Oscar nomination for its visual effects, the same method was used to create the hyper-intelligent animals in the live-action movie "Rise of the Planet of the Apes".

REBECCA KEEGAN