As I noted yesterday in my round-up of the animated short Oscar shortlist, Warner Bros. is pushing hard for a nomination for their new Sylvester and Tweety short. I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat, which is playing in front of Happy Feet Two, would be the first Looney Tunes to go to the Academy Awards since 1963’s Now Hear This. Sylvester and Tweety themselves were nominated four times in the ’40s and ’50s, winning twice. I haven’t yet seen the new short, so I have no idea if it lives up to the extraordinary legacy of Warner Bros. cartoons at the Oscars, but I’m eager to find out.
In the meantime, let’s take a look back at the last time these two rambunctious pets made it to the podium. 1957’s Birds Anonymous would mark the fourth Oscar victory for the Looney Tunes series, and the second for a Sylvester and Tweety cartoon. It’s a wonderfully light-hearted spoof of the dark and often heavy-handed melodramas of the time, influenced by the growth and success of Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s also one of the most successful films Friz Freleng directed before Warner Bros. closed their animation studio in 1963, causing him to then start his own production company (DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, which would create The Pink Panther). Continue reading
Today the Academy announced the 10 animated shorts that have made it onto the shortlist for the Oscar, to be given out in February. Only three to five of these films will be nominated, but even getting this far is an incredibly exciting accomplishment. Therefore, instead of just copying out the list and moving on, let’s talk about them a bit.
Of course, at this point some of the films are easier to learn about than others. The Sylvester and Tweety short even has a For Your Consideration page, while others have almost no online presence. The ten look to be a nice blend of techniques, with representation from stop-motion, traditional and computer generated animation. There’s also a bit of an international presence, with films from Argentina, the UK, France and Poland. The always-present National Film Board of Canada also appears twice on the list. There are veterans of the industry (including former Oscar nominees) alongside very new filmmakers.
Only one of these shorts is available on the web and I haven’t caught any of them at festivals this year, so this’ll be a somewhat basic preview. However, as things become more available I’ll try reviewing them individually. Once I’ve seen them, anyway. For now, here’s a round-up with some trailers. Continue reading
I must say that the most exciting thing about today’s National Board of Review announcement for me was the Best Actress honor for Tilda Swinton. Firstly, it’s refreshing when these groups shake things up a bit and keep the competition going. But more than that, I think Swinton is one of those actresses who enrich just about every conversation, Oscar season or otherwise. Her strength isn’t simply that she’s an extraordinarily talented actress, but that she chooses projects and collaborations that dare to enrich and extend art and cinema as a whole. Too many of the leading female performances raved about this awards cycle are in safe and uninteresting movies, which is never a problem for a Swinton picture.
But enough general gushing. Let’s go back to an early point in Swinton’s career, one of her very first film roles. A year after appearing in Caravaggio, her first collaboration with Derek Jarman, the director asked her to star in his contribution to 1987’s Aria (which I covered earlier this week, as a tribute to Ken Russell). The music is the famous Depuis le jour from Gustave Charpentier’s Louise, a sweet ode to young love. It’s a gorgeously simple short from the often provocative director, as earnest in its beauty as the music itself. Continue reading