Animated movies have been garnering more and more critical and public interest in recent years. Once viewed as only suitable for the kiddies, Japanese anime has helped elevate the medium, with Hollywood taking note. It was no surprise that Gore Verbinski's "Rango" received the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film Sunday night, as it had just the right mix of slapstick comedy to delight kids and sweeping vistas and film references to satisfy their adult chaperones. Johnny Depp's vocal performance as the titular lizard helped propel the film to the top of the heap as well.
"Rango" used computer animation, not 3D, which was an element in two of the other nominees, Dreamworks's "Puss in Boots," the "Shrek" prequel directed by Chris Miller, and "Kung Fu Panda 2," directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson. Both of those films were also led by strong vocal performances, featuring Antonio Banderas as the swashbuckling Puss and Jack Black as martial arts expert Po the Panda, respectively. The Academy should consider an additional category honoring such performances, as A-list vocal work truly drives these animated films and helps bring fans into the theater.
By nominating the two 3D films for Best Animated Feature Film, as well as Best Picture nominee "Hugo," the Academy is sending a message that it considers the 3D process more than just a gimmick to sell tickets. All three films are also available in 2D versions.
The animation category was rounded out by two foreign-language films: "Chico and Rita," a movie from Spain directed by Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal, and "A Cat in Paris," a French film directed by Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli. Notably missing from the category was Steven Spielberg's murky "The Adventures of Tintin." Despite the involvement of such entertainment bigwigs as Spielberg, Steven Moffat, and Peter Jackson, it really wasn't up to the standard of the winning "Rango."
Congratulations to the delightful and deserving "Rango," and all of the other nominees.
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- Gore Verbinski
- Johnny Depp