Kimi no Na wa / Your Name

Kimi no Na Wa or Your name is taking the Japanese box office by storm. The movie has recently surpassed Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo anime film, as well as James Cameron’s Avatar film. The only anime films to earn more are Ghibli and Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and Princess MononokeIt premiered at the Anime Expo 2016 convention in Los Angeles, California on July 3, 2016 and later in Japan on August 26, 2016. It has a growing box office of $158.1 million and includes  fantastic reviews and a few wins from BFI London Film Festival, Bucheon International Animation Festival, Tokyo International Film Festival and Newtype Anime Awards. Expect this movie to get a lot of attention in the next couple of months.
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Kimi no Na wa or Your name has been licensed by Funimation. Since it ran at the Laemmle Music Hall for one week, Dec 2nd to the 9th, it qualifies for the 2016 Oscars for Best Animation. A film must run for a week in LA county in order to qualify for a selection. A wider theatrical release is planned for the first quarter of 2017. After 52 days at the box office, it sold a total of 11 million tickets. This movie not only has a simple yet highly interesting plot it is capturing a lot of attention with a twist throughout the film and to fans loyal to the science fiction realm.

Your name is an animated youth science fiction fantasy film directed by Makota Shinkai. Makota Shinkai is a famous director of anime that has worked on previous gorgeous films of a voices of a distant star, 5 centimeters per second and the garden of words. The animation is by Comix Wave Films and distributed by Toho that have also worked on Makota Shinkais previous films. Without giving anything away the film is inspired by the novel, Your name written by Makota Shinkai. It was published in Japan by Kadokawa on June 18, 2016. The story is about a a high school girl named Mistuha Miyamizu living in the town of Itomori. She  is fed up with her life in the countryside and wishes to be a handsome Tokyo boy in her next life. Later, Taki Tachibana, a high school boy living in Tokyo, wakes up in a daze and realizes that he is Mitsuha, who herself has somehow ended up in Taki’s body. The story progresses with adventure, humor, science fiction and quite possibly some romance? I’m beyond excited for this film and I expect this movie to get a lot of praise during the Academy Award season. I do not expect this movie to win best animation overall but I do like to hope it gets the top 5 list of the category. Keeping my fingers crossed for an early release date in the United States.
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Nimona comic mashup with Feast Director

To those that enjoy epic quests, science fiction and shape shifting comic characters you are in for a surprise if you happen to be familiar with the Nimona comic. Nimona is a fantasy and sci fi comic written and illustrated by Noelle Stevenson. Stevenson started her webcomic while attending Maryland Institute College of Art in order to complete her senior thesis in 2012. HarperCollins eventually published her work as a young adult graphic novel in May 2015. The title character is a rambunctious young shape shifter and the sidekick of supervillain Lord Ballister Blackheart. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a knight turned mad scientist who’s pursued by his nemesis, Sir Ambrosius Goldenlion. The first five chapters focus on the differences in outlook between Nimona and her adventures against the villainous Institution at Sir Ambrosius Goldenlions wrath. Nimona has been well received and was awarded Best Web Comic of 2012 and was nominated for a 2015 Eisner Award. It certainly isn’t a surprise to see that the comic has been given the go to be turned into a movie.
Patrick Osborne has been given the reigns of bringing this comic to life for Fox Animation. With an Oscar for best animated short under his belt and recognition for  Wreck-It Ralph, Tangled and Bolt, I can see him doing a fantastic job in keeping this comic faithful to Stevenson’s work. Stevenson’s other comic, Lumberjanes has been given the go for a live-action adaptation. Marc Haimes, who is a former DreamWorks executive is attached to writing the screenplay. Vertigo Entertainment’s Roy Lee ad Adam Stone will produce the film. Fox’s last non-Blue Sky animated feature was Reel FX’s, The Book of Life, which was released last fall and was nominated for a top spot on the best animated list at the Oscars. A release date has not yet to be announced but good things are surely to come to our heroines.

Academy Awards: Best Animated Film

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The Boxtrolls

These are the first Academy Award nominations for Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable and Travis Knight

Big Hero 6

These are the first Academy Award nominations for Don Hall and Roy Conli

How To Train Your Dragon 2

This is the second Academy Award nomination for Dean DeBlois. He was previously nominated for: How To Train Your Dragon (2010)
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Best Animation Upset

I’m sure most of you are well aware that one of the movies to be nominated for a Golden Globe this year did not make the finalist for best animation at the Academy Awards. With a lot of buzz through the internet there are a lot of people wondering why, The Lego Movie was not nominated. Being a fan of the movie myself I was a little surprised that the movie did not make the list as well. Warner brothers and the animation team certainly put a lot of effort and time in making this box office hit, awesome. Phil Lord, who co-directed with Christopher Miller, took the snub in stride, though, tweeting his own Oscar. Miller also tweeted about the snub.

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Even though the movie was snubbed for best animation it was nominated for best original song. It will be interesting to see the winner of the best animation category for this year and I’m actually really glad that Song of the Sea and The Tale of Princess Kaguya were both finalist. The Academy Awards will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, February 22, 2015. If you have any predictions or thoughts about the animation category or any other categories please write a comment. Every year I make my own predictions of each category for the award ceremony.

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Laika Announces New Film, Kubo And The Two Strings (2016)

Laika an American stop-motion animation studio specializing in feature films, commercial content for all mediums, music videos and short films have recently announced their new film for 2016. Laika known for their two Oscar nominations for Coraline, ParaNorman and most likely BoxTrolls for 2015 has announced their underway with their fourth installment with Focus Features. This will be the first movie in the the new three picture partnership between Laika and Focus.  Their new film, Kubo and the two strings will be filmed in the company’s signature 3D stop motion and CG technique. The new film is described as a “sweeping, swashbuckling adventure set in a mythical ancient Japan.” The film is set for release on August 19, 2016.

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The screenplay was written by Marc Haimes and ParaNorman writer-director Chris Butler. CEO Travis Knight will be producing the film with Arianne Sutner who is known for working on the movie ParaNorman. The movie will feature a star-studded voice cast including, Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara and Brenda Vaccaro. Art Parkinson, best known for his role on Game of Thrones playing Rickon Star will voice the title character Kubo.

Beauty and the Beast (1991) Anniversary

Beauty and the Beast is a 1991 American animated musical romantic fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation. The film is the 30th animated film in the Walt Disney Animated Classic series and based on the traditional French fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont. The movie is the third film in the Disney Renaissance period that consisted of films from 1989 to 1999. The film was directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise. The film was produced by Don Hahn and the screenplay was written by Linda Woolverton. Most of the people working on this film had already established high rankings among movies associated with Disney. After the release of this film on November 22, 1991 and the films high success, most people  who worked on this film are widely recognized for their talent. The movie has a high rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.

BeautybeastposterThe film had an overall budget of $25 million and grossed $425 million dollars at the box office. The movie was nominated for several awards, winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical for Comedy. It became the first animated film to be nominated for the Academy Award for best picture. The film received 5 additional Academy Award nomination, including Best Original Score, Best Sound, and Best Original Song on three separate nominations. In 2002, Beauty and the Beast was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Production  had to be completed on a compressed timeline of two years rather than four because of the loss of production time spent developing the earlier Purdum version of the film.Most of the production was done at the main Feature Animation studio, housed in the Air Way facility in Glendale, California. A smaller team at the Disney-MGM Studios theme park in Lake Buena Vista, Florida assisted the California team on several scenes, particularly the “Be Our Guest”. The success of the CGI ballroom sequence helped convince studio executives to further invest in computer animation.

The Little Mermaid (1989) 25th Anniversary

November 15th marked the 25th anniversary of American animated Disney movie, The Little Mermaid. The Little Mermaid is the 28th film in the Walt Disney Animated Classic series and was distributed by Buena Vista. The movie is loosely based on the Danish fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson. If you’re not well aware of the movie, the story is about a sixteen year old girl named Ariel. Ariel happens to be a  mermaid and the daughter of King Triton. King Triton is the King of the of the sea and Ariel dreams of becoming human. With her best friend Flounder and Scuttle the seagull she meets a young prince named Eric. With multiple songs and dilemmas such as saving the prince and making a trade with Ursula the sea witch, she must face overcoming obstacles to save prince Eric as well as herself.

La-SirenitaThe film was directed and produced by Ron Clements and John Musker. The music was composed by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman who wrote the Academy Award Winning Score. One of the film’s most prominent songs, “Part of Your World”, was nearly cut from the film when it seemingly tested poorly with an audience of school children. The voices of Jodi Benson, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Pat Carroll, Samuel E. Wright, Kenneth Mars, Buddy Hackett and Rene Aubjeronios made this film transpire into the masterpiece it is today. The movie had an overall budget of $40 million and a total estimate of $211.3 million at the box office. The Little Mermaid is listed as one of the top Disney films and holds an overall approval rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Interesting Facts:
1.
 Ariel was quite deliberately made a redhead in order to distinguish her from Daryl Hannah‘s character in Splash (1984).
2.
 Ariel’s body type and personality were based on Alyssa Milano. The effect of her hair underwater was based on footage of astronaut Sally Ride in weightless conditions
3. 
In Greek mythology, the God of the Sea is Poseidon, or Neptune in Latin. This movie’s sea king has the name Triton, one of Neptune’s sons.
4. There are several shots of Ariel, sitting on a rock, in a pose reminiscent of the “Little Mermaid” statue that sits in Copenhagen harbor.
5. The first Disney fairy tale since Sleeping Beauty
6. This was the first Disney film to receive an Academy Award since Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971), though other films had been nominated.
7. The shot of Ariel reaching out through the skylight of her grotto was the last shot to be completed. It took four tries to get the optical effects just right.
8. The printed film format is 35 mm (Eastman 5384) and a 70 mm (blow-up) (Eastman 5384)
9. Ariel’s liplines were created with hand-inking.
10. For this film, the artists received inspiration from the Nielsen story sketches that were brought out of the Archives for them to study, and they gave Kay Nielsen a “visual development” credit on the film. Another first for recent years: Live actors and actresses were filmed for reference material for the animators. Sherri Stoner acted out Ariel’s key scenes. Not all of Disney’s animators approved the use of live-action reference; Glen Keane, the co-supervising animator of Ariel said in an interview with the Orange County Register that one artist quit the project rather than work with live-action reference.