Animated Features 2014

The DVD of The Tale of Princess Kaguya came in the mail Friday and after having watched it, I can now comment on this category. They’ve been handing out Oscars for Animated Features since 2001 and it has always had a probationary feel to it for me, like they could cancel the category at any time. It was created in those heady days when we in this country were just discovering anime from Studio Ghibli and Pixar was flexing its muscles. The great Disney renaissance with The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast was not that many years in the past. There was talk of films like Toy Story getting a Best Picture nomination. Nowadays, however, Pixar has stumbled, Miyazaki has retired, and Disney only puts out a traditional ink and paint feature every few years and it can’t be counted on to be a masterpiece every single time. Sadly no one has stepped forward to fill these voids and I fear we are entering a fallow period. I suppose that there have been years when no live action film has been worthy of Best Picture, but with my confidence in the infallibility of Pixar shaken, I think the drought for animated films could last a good long time.
In any case, none of the films nominated for this year’s award are great. Most of them don’t even achieve good. The Boxtrolls is a movie for kids who like gross humor. Song of the Sea is pleasant enough, but hardly inspiring. The Tale of Princess Kaguya is long and slow and the payoff at the climax isn’t really worth the wait. Big Hero 6 is an unimaginative dip into the superhero genre by Disney. This leaves us with How to Train Your Dragon 2 as my pick, simply because I didn’t dislike it as much as the competition. The first one was good but it had the misfortune to come out in the same year as Toy Story 3.
Ugh. Hopefully, I’m wrong and there will be better years ahead.

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