Monday 27 February 2012

Oscar Results - Rango and Morris Lessmore Take Home Awards

Last night was the 84th Annual Academy Awards ceremony, emanating from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California, celebrating the greatest achievements in cinema over the past 12 months.

Taking home the most prolific awards of the night, including Best Picture, Best Director (Michel Hazanavicius) and Best Actor (Jean Dujardin), was, unsurprisingly, The Artist. The french, black-and-white, silent film drew with Martin Scorsese's Hugo for total number of awards won, at 5 each. However, Hugo took home the more technical awards, including Art Direction, Cinematography and Visual Effects.

In terms of animation, the Gore Verbinski directed western flick, Rango, took home the award for Best Animated Feature, beating out A Cat in Paris, Chico and Rita, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots. Upon winning the award, Verbinski (pictured top with the statue) said:

"Someone asked me if this film was for kids. I don’t know, but it was certainly created by a bunch of grown-ups acting like children."

The Best Animated Short Film award was this year given to The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, by Shreveport based Moonbot Studios. Directors William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg (pictured above) were on hand to accept the honour. It's a huge honour and great sign of recognition for the studio's first short film; read more on Moonbot's website.

Bret McKenzie also took home the Best Original Song award for Man or Muppet, it's just a shame The Muppets didn't snag more nominations.

Nonetheless, congratulations to all involved in all of the films that won and those nominated. Read the full list of winners here.

Friday 24 February 2012

Ice Age Parodies The Artist

Ahead of a new trailer being released (on 5th March) for the fourth installment in Blue Sky Studios' much loved Ice Age franchise, Ice Age: Continental Drift, the studio have rolled out a parody of Oscar frontrunner, The Artist.

The video (above) is a black-and-white montage of clips from previous Ice Age films and shorts, showing the love between Scrat and the acorn that was such a popular side-story in the first 3 films, and it seems only topical given that the Oscars are this Sunday, and The Artist is almost a certainty.

Ice Age: Continental Drift is due for release on 6th July.

Discover the Forest with The Lorax

Universal Pictures and their animation division, Illumination Entertainment, have teamed up with Discover the Forest to bring us the above public service announcement. The 30-second clip promotes Illumination Entertainment's upcoming adaptation of Dr. Seuss's The Lorax, as well as highlighting its environmental messages and the importance of nature.

The video also displays some stunning and cool, previously unseen, footage from the film. The Lorax certainly looks set to be of the best animated films of 2012.

The Lorax is released in cinemas in the US on 2nd March, and in the UK on 27th July.

Video via The Lorax's official Facebook page.

Behind the Scenes of Brave

Following from the recent advertising blitz for Brave, TIME magazine today debuts a behind the scenes look at Pixar's next feature. The article shows us nine pictures from the development and production of Pixar's first fairytale, showing the film's original director, Brenda Chapman, and current director, Mark Andrews, interacting with the crew (including the infamous kilt Fridays), visiting Scottish locales and getting a feel of holding the varied weaponry.

TIME have also provided us with an example of a storyboard image from the film, which, for those of you that've watched the new trailer, "The Prize", will be very familiar.

Head on over to TIME to view all the images.

Thanks to Pixarian, Cat Hicks for the tip off.

Thursday 23 February 2012

New Brave Trailer Debuts

As promised, today, courtesy of iTunes Movie Trailers, we got to see a new trailer (more accurately, it's an extended clip) from Pixar's summer release, Brave.

The clip, titled "The Prize" shows the fiery haired, Merida showcasing her stubborn nature and her fantastic archery skills. Also prominently on display here is the breathtakingly gorgeous animation that Pixar have accomplished on the film; it certainly looks set to be Pixar's best looking film to date.

As its release date draws closer and promotion amps up, Brave looks set to become one of the top films of 2012.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Intense New Brave Poster Revealed

It's evident that this year's Pixar promotional season is in full swing, as advertising for their next feature, Brave, cranks up. Following on from a glut of Brave news, including the announcement of a new trailer (due tomorrow) and a revamped website, stacked with character bios, we now get the above poster.

The newest poster, courtesy of iTunes Movie Trailers, is stunning and intense; showing a fiery haired Merida preparing to unleash an arrow from her bow, all the while, standing menacingly in the background, is the huge, formerly titular (back when Brave was The Bear and the Bow) bear.

Check back again tomorrow for the new trailer.

Brave Website Gets a Makeover

Disney and Pixar have updated the official Brave website, bringing a lot of great new features. Most prominently (as you can see towards the bottom of the above screenshot) are a set of wonderful new images (complete with downloadable wallpapers) and descriptions of the main characters from what will be Pixar's 13th feature film.

The website also features a 2D storybook illustration of the film's previously released description. You can see this and all the bios on the newly remodelled website, here.

Brave hits US theatres on 22nd June and arrives here in the UK on 17th August.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Frankenweenie Poster

The poster for Tim Burton's next animated film, Frankenweenie, has debuted online. The first animated film Burton's directed in 7 years, Frankenweenie - a remake of the Alice in Wonderland director's 1984 short film of the same name - is a stop-motion, black and white film that sees young Victor reanimate his recently deceased dog, Sparky.

Frankenweenie is due to be released by Disney on 5th October, 2012.

Via Geek Tyrant.

New Brave Trailer Hits Thursday

As Pixar's next feature, Brave, encroaches, publicising and advertising for it will amp up in the next few weeks and months. As such, as production is nearing an end, we are expecting a new trailer this Thursday.

The tip-off comes from the iTunes Movie Trailers homepage which is sporting the above countdown, citing "Change your fate in 2 days", pointing towards a new trailer for Pixar's first fairytale coming on Thursday.

Keep your eyes on this site, as we'll be showing you the trailer when it debuts.

Monday 20 February 2012

The Muppets Review - The Most Sensational, Inspirational, Celebrational, Muppetational Return Possible

For those of you in the States, this is a very belated review, but, as we long ago came to terms with, Disney clearly hates all of us here in Europe, and we often have a ridiculously large delay between the US release and the UK (or European) release of Disney, or Disney owned, films - last year we had to wait until January for Tangled which came out in November in the US, The Muppets is our 2012 equivalent. Fortunately though, much like Tangled was, The Muppets was definitely worth the wait.

Sunday 19 February 2012

Pete Docter and Andrew Stanton Teaming Up

Yes, you read that right, the two famed Pixar directors who brought us, Monsters, Inc. and Up, and Finding Nemo and WALL E, respectively, were recently announced to be working together on a project - an animated short film.

Despite the Oscar winning pair's very hectic schedules - with Stanton directing the live-action space epic, John Carter, for Disney, and Docter directing the Untitled Pixar Movie That Takes You Inside The Mind - Andrew Stanton told us in a recent interview with Ain't It Cool News of the collaboration, which allows him to return to animation at Pixar whilst working on the John Carter franchise.

Stanton said:

"As a matter of fact I’m developing a short film with Pete Docter. There’s an idea that he and I have had for years that we are finally getting around to doing which is kind of funny. We are both way too busy, but we just love the idea of doing this one little project together"

Saturday 18 February 2012

The Simpsons at 500

The Simpsons, Matt Groening's brainchild, the most iconic show in recent memory, the mould from which shows like Family Guy and South Park seek to establish themselves, has reached the gigantic milestone of 500 episodes. The show, which started on The Tracey Ullman Show way back in 1987 as a series of shorts, has been a mainstay on TV as a series for 23 years.

The practically unparralleled achievement is a true feather in the cap of arguably one of the greatest TV shows of all time and The Simpsons has been getting a lot of well deserved coverage because of the approaching accomplishment. The Guardian has compiled a list of the top ten episodes of The Simpsons here, crowning the 007 spoof, You Only Move Twice the greatest episode of The Simpsons ever. Personally, I'd agree with The Guardian's choice of that and of Cape Feare as the top two, although I'd probably rank their first full episode, Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire, in the top three though. Although, fans and critics alike seem fairly unaminous that the show's finest hours were in its first decade or so, there is no arguing with the fantastic brilliance of the show, and recent episode's like Angry Dad: The Movie showed the show's timelessness and how it is still capable of utter brilliance and witty self-parody. The Guardian also has an article about its choice of the top ten things that make The Simpsons great.

BBC News has a couple of clips from the upcoming 500th episode here, as well as some words from Wallace and Gromit creator and Aardman head honcho, Nick Park, about the honour of guest starring in The Simpsons.

Matt Groening has also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Valentine's Day (read more here).

The Simpsons' 500th episode will feature guest appearences by controversial WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange and will air in the US tomorrow.

For more on the show's creator, Matt Groening, read our Bitesized Biography about him.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

New La Luna Clip

Entertainment Weekly has premiered a new clip (above) from Pixar's Oscar nominated short film, La Luna. The short, which has been making the rounds of festivals in the past few months, is scheduled to premiere worldwide with Pixar's 13th feature film, Brave, this summer.

The clip, which is accompanied on EW's website with an interview with the film's director, Enrico Casarosa, is charming, nostalgic and makes it obvious that La Luna is set to be one of Pixar's finest shorts to date. The musical accompaniment by Pixar favourite Michael Giacchino is also sublime.

For the clip and interview with Enrico Casarosa, head over here.

Via Upcoming Pixar.

Sunday 12 February 2012

Rango Takes Home a BAFTA

Although the presentation of the award appears to have been cut from the broadcast of the 65th British Academy Film Awards, earlier today the BAFTA for Best Animated Film was awarded to Paramount and Nickelodeon's Rango. The Gore Verbinski directed animated western is the favourite heading into the 84th Annual Academy Awards in two weeks' time and this is a huge honour for the film.

Rango beat out Steven Spielberg's mo-cap adventure, The Adventures of Tintin and the British film, Arthur Christmas. Check out the full BAFTA results here.

Friday 10 February 2012

Spotlight on Short Films: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Given this site's new self touted focus on classic short films and cartoons, it seems only appropriate to cover a broader range of animated shorts. Up until recently, Pixar has been my main outlet of animated shorts - with a few Disney ones cropping up too - however, I've recently started watching more, and one that I particularly loved (to the extent that it deserved its own post) is The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

The short, "inspired, in equal measures, by Hurricane Katrina, Buster Keaton, The Wizard of Oz, and a love for books, “Morris Lessmore” is a story of people who devote their lives to books and books who return the favor.". You've likely, if you haven't seen it, heard the short mentioned in the context of it being one of the 5 shorts nominated for the Best Animated Short Film Oscar this year, and there's a reason it's nominated! Personally, I loved I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat (the Looney Tunes short attached to Happy Feet Two) and that didn't get an Oscar nod, whereas Morris Lessmore did, so that should tell you something about the amazing quality of this short. Having now seen it, I can safely say that it would've caused me some hesitancy in my choice for the Best Animated Short Film A113Animation Award this year.

I'm harping on here, but my superlatives and hyperbole are apt in this case, as Morris Lessmore is brilliant. This shan't be a full review, as this post is intended merely to get you to go out and watch this short and to praise Moonbot Studios (the company behind it) for their talent. The animation is luscious and the style charming, the musical accompaniment is soft and nostalgic and it's an all round very touching, poignant film about the effect that books and, more broadly than that, - as this seems to be the mantra of Moonbot - about the effect that story can have on us.

Moonbot have done a wonderful job here and (having not seen any of their rival nominees - although I hear nothing but glowing reviews of Pixar's La Luna) I'd say they have a strong chance at the 84th Academy Awards later this month; they'd certainly deserve it. The studio who say, rather than devoted to any one medium - as they've also released a few acclaimed iPad apps - they are devoted to telling the best story they can. One thing's for certain, co-directors William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg and their team at Moonbot have certainly accomplished that here.

To surmise in platitudinal terms: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is fantastic!

Watch The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore on Moonbot's website via Vimeo; visit the short's official site (where you can see some great concept art); and like both the short and Moonbot's official Facebook pages.

Thursday 9 February 2012

First Look at Wreck-It Ralph

Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, we have been treated to our first look at Disney's 52nd animated feature film, Wreck-It Ralph. The next film out of the Disney animated canon revolves around a video game villain, the titular Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly), who leaves his own video game with the goal of proving he's a good guy really.

After leaving his game and jumping to the Halo-esque FPS, Hero's Duty (above), the former villain is enlisted to help fight the "constant battle against the marauding horde of Cy-Bugs" by Sergeant Calhoun (Glee's Jane Lynch)

Moving on to the next game, Ralph inadvertently wreaks havoc in the third gaming world of Sugar Rush (above) - a confectionery coated racing world. Throughout these worlds, Ralph encounters other characters, voiced by Jack McBrayer and Sarah Silverman.

The concept art you can see here vividly shows the three very distinct and vibrantly different worlds that the latest Disney animated film will explore. Personally, they look pretty great to me and I can't wait to see more from Wreck-It Ralph.

Monday 6 February 2012

39th Annual Annie Awards Results

Saturday was the 39th Annual Annie Awards, honouring the greatest achievements in animation over the past year. Following on from a controversial year last year, where DreamWorks' How to Train your Dragon swept the ceremony, this year it was Nickelodeon and Paramount's Rango that topped the ceremony, winning 5 awards.

The animated western story of lonely and eponymous chameleon, Rango, is the frontrunner for the Animated Oscar this year, and beat out DreamWorks' Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots, as well as Pixar's Cars 2 and others to scoop the top prize at this year's Annies. The Gore Verbinski directed film also took home awards, including Editing and Writing in a Feature Production.

Jennifer Yuh Nelson took home the award for Best Director for Kung Fu Panda 2, and there were awards handed to The Adventures of Tintin, Winnie the Pooh and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

For a full list of winners, click here.

Saturday 4 February 2012

Classic Cartoons #2 - Good Night

As our second 'Bitesized Biography' was dedicated to The Simpsons creator, Matt Groening, and that the function of 'Classic Cartoons' is to share some of the best, most influential and most timeless cartoons and shorts of all time with the masses, it seemed fitting that today's 'Classic Cartoon' be the short that started it all: 'Good Night', the very first Simpsons short. Before 'Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire' became the first ever full length Simpsons episode in December 1989, 'Good Night' grabbed the attention and adulation of audiences everywhere on The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987.

Bitesized Biographies #2 - Matt Groening

A113Animation's new focus on animated shorts and cartoons is dedicated to honouring and appreciating the paramount importance and influence of this magical and nostalgic medium that all of us grew up with - and there is no bigger or more influential cartoon show than The Simpsons. The Simpsons is possibly the greatest show ever made - certainly one of the most beloved - and is definitely the best animated show ever, and none of this could've existed if it weren't for the genius of Matt Groening.