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 A rather predicted victory for Disney's Frozen, and a European short getting the Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Animated Short respectively.

 It was Disney's comeback at the 86th Academy Awards. After its rather unexpected loss with Wreck-It Ralph in 2013 (Brave from sister company Pixar won), Disney persuaded Academy votes for its 3D computer animation expertise in Frozen  - the overall praise about the snow depiction, even though the story itself left many things to be desired.

 The variant of Hans Christian Andersen's Snow Queen gave Disney, surprising as it may seem, its first victory in the Best Animated Feature category since the award was introduced in 2001.

 In a category in which winners were frequently selected from Pixar's slate of computer animation films (Pixar's Monsters University was absent from this year's nominations), Frozen by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck rather ascertained that Disney could do in the 3D computer animation field what the innovative Pixar had done since Toy Story. The old-age use of fairytale inspiration in a Disney film seems to have paid off. No wonder that Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck (dir.) and Peter Del Vecho (producer) in their acceptance speech described the result as "inspiring" and "magical". 

 The song Let It Go (Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez), which also won the Academy Award for Best Song, was also made as part of a package for the magical journey.

Miyazaki's The Wind Rises (and his third nomination for an Academy Award) which was highly tipped to win an Academy Award, did not repeat the 2001 Oscar victory with Spirited Away

The French animated feature Ernest and Celestine (Benjamin Renner and Didier Brunner), which was much superior to Frozen in terms of its theme (an unacceptable and almost illegal friendship) and character development, also left empty-handed.

The nominees:

  • The Croods, Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco and Kristine Belson
  • "Despicable Me 2, Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin and Chris Meledandri
  • Ernest and Celestine, Benjamin Renner and Didier Brunner
  • Frozen, Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho
  • "The Wind Rises, Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki

 

In the Best Short Animation category, Mr. Hublot (Laurent Witz, Alexandre Espigares), a Luxembourgian-French co-production, won over the the retro-style of Disney's Mickey adventure Get A Horse!

In this 11-minute film (in 2D and 3D computer animation), Mr Hublot lives in a world where characters made partially of mechanical parts, driving huge vehicles, rub shoulders with each other.

The arrival of the dog Robot Pet will turn his life upside down: he has to share his home with this very invasive companion...

This small but endearing film (its first inspiration were the characters by sculptor Stéphane Halleux) seems to have appealed to voters, who did not want to give a double win to the Disney studio. Even though Get A Horse! had the nostalgia feeling all over it, it was more extravagant than magical -unlike last year's awarded Paperman (John Kahrs), also by Disney studio. At the same time, Academy Award voters bypassed some edgier (see Feral by Daniel Sousa) nominated films -including some films that never made the final nominees' list.

Yet, it is a positive thing that a non-studio offering was awarded for its team effort at a time when funding is even more difficult to secure for small-scale but heroic productions.

European independent animators Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares have now more than a friendly boost to either develop Mr. Hublot into a feature film , or prepare a different feature film project altogether.

See the short film nominees:

  • "Feral," Daniel Sousa, director, and Dan Golden, music and sound design (Daniel Sousa)
  • "Get a Horse!" Lauren MacMullan, director, and Dorothy McKim, producer (Walt Disney Feature Animation)
  • "Mr. Hublot," Laurent Witz, director, and Alexandre Espigares, co-director (Zeilt Productions)
  • "Possessions," Shuhei Morita, director (Sunrise Inc.)
  • "Room on the Broom," Max Lang and Jan Lachauer, directors (Magic Light Pictures)

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2013 were presented on Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre™ at Hollywood & Highland Center®.

 

Vassilis Kroustallis

 

 

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