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The Oscar Flight of Miyazaki's The Wind Rises
Thursday, 05 December 2013 16:05

kaze-posterThe latest feature of Hayao Miyazaki gains momentum in the 2014 Oscar race.


 After its two consecutive wins in both New York FIlm Critics Circl and the National Board of Review and his runner-up status at the LA Film Critics Awards (which gave their award to the French feature Ernest and Celestine) The Wind Rises by the legendary studio Ghibli director seems to move to the forefront in the Academy Award race for Best Animated Feature.


Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises), which is based on the manga of the same name has an "adult" theme, the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed the Zero fighter plane of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack.


But the Miyazaki treatment seems to tranform the war horror into a beautiful exercise in nostalgia.


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Yet, what are the relative worth of the critics awards?The New York FIlm Critics Circle would seem to favor more "artistic" choices over kiddies fare. They gave their 2001 award to Richard Linklater's innovative and philosophical Waking Life and the 2003 award to Chomet's French film The Triplettes of Belleville.


Miyazaki has been awarded twice from NYFCC, both for his Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle.


Things are more mainstream with the National Board of Review. Apart from Spirited Away, not a single non-US animated feature has been awarded from NBR.


Indeed, NBR voters have a a close award affiliation with Pixar, having awarded every major Pixar film (Incredibles, Ratatouille, Up) -breaking this chain twice with Wreck-It Ralph and Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride.


So, is The Wind Rises suddenly becoming a more eligible option for Academy Award voters in the animation branch of the Academy?


Critics awards won't necessarily predict the Oscar outcome -the too many awards of Disney's Wreck-It Ralph last year were not enough for the Disney film to win the Academy Award (which went to Pixar's Brave).


Yet the buzz about Miyazaki's last film to direct, good-to-stunning film reviews and a subject that invites US liberalism might lend a good ear to the Academy.


This could do the Oscar trick, especially in a year dominated by sequels (Monsters University, Despicable Me 2), reworkings of classical fairy tales (Frozen) and lesser-known (but also eligible for an Oscar surprise) European films, such as the French sweet film Ernest and Celestine.


The only problem with that is that Hayao Miyazaki has already won an Oscar -in 2002 for his Spirited Away. But that was 11 years ago -a long time ago in the minds of Oscar voters.


And don't underestimate the Disney distribution machine behind The Wind Rises; unlike other 'adult' films, this film is meant to be seen -and evaluated accordingly.


Vassilis Kroustallis


Last Updated on Monday, 09 December 2013 10:33