It’s the most controversial time of the year. Awards season is officially underway, with various organizations beginning to announce nominations and even winners for what they consider to be the year’s best films. Where awards shows go, controversy follows closely behind, as bold choices are often made for which films, filmmakers, and actors are celebrated. On Monday, the Los Angeles branch of Association Internationale du Film d’Animation, also known as ASIFA-Hollywood, released their list of nominees for the Annie Awards, an event that many consider to be the biggest night for film and television animation. Pixar’s Monsters University and Toy Story OF TERROR! landed a combined 17 nominations. Find more details about what is in store for Pixar this awards season after the break!
Pixar may have a problem with a lack of female representation among its directors, but that’s not the case with many of its female characters. The concern over the disparity of active female characters in mainstream filmmaking has grown (rightly) louder over the last couple of years; though this has been a problem in big-budget films for a very long time, it’s become truly galling because it shows a perceived lack of progressivism in a culture that is often painted as being potentially too progressive. No doubt, there is a disturbing inequality in the number of male versus female directors, writers, and producers in Hollywood. Pixar may not be perfect, but to presume, as some have, that it is similarly failing in representing strong female characters in its films is wildly inaccurate.
Late last week, the Walt Disney Company decided to expand our knowledge of their inner workings just a little bit, specific to the future of their animation studios. Anyone who may have been concerned, for example, that Walt Disney Feature Animation would be going the way of the dodo (this writer is among them) could breathe a bit easier because of this news story. In some ways, the entire story is fairly random—why Disney chose to announce its animation slate through 2018 at the end of May 2013, we may never know—but it’s got plenty of information we can parse through. Specific to Pixar and this week’s column, the topic of concern is multiple films in one year.
Everything in pop culture that we embrace goes through cycles. Something is introduced to the masses, who fall in love with it, and then, after a requisite amount of time, a backlash arises. This is different from a piece of art, whether it’s a film, TV show, or book, being analyzed and criticized from a subjective point of view. Instead, that which is initially beloved begins to wear thin on some members of its audiences even if they are the ones who changed, not the art itself. (Take, for instance, the current season of AMC’s Mad Men, which has received countless plaudits in the past but is now receiving more unfriendly reactions because it’s inherently the same show, unchanging in its sixth year.) Backlash can be vexing, but it is not uncommon. And so it makes sense that the last couple of years, for Pixar, have been full of such a negative turn.
Over the last year or so, there’s been a trend online where people create short videos in which they list a series of problems they spotted in a mainstream movie, from Skyfall to Looper to The Dark Knight Rises. These videos all have received a disturbing amount of traction, as if their creators deserve a pat on the back for seeing what the rest of us, apparently, didn’t see or chose to ignore. These bite-sized excuses for modern film criticism are created by people who presume they’re being insightful, which is far from the truth. Better still, when they’re called out for their unnecessary whining, as happened when Looper’s director, Rian Johnson, got audibly frustrated at one of these videos, they half-heartedly shield themselves behind the “Oh, it’s just a joke!” excuse. Among Pixar films, Brave avoided this nitpicking—at least on such a grand scale. But if this video is any hint, we may need to batten down the virtual hatches because the nitpickers are already unloading on Monsters University. [Read more...]
Great movie trailers are something of a lost art. While we are overloaded with ads for every new big-budget movie these days, they’re getting more obnoxious, cacophonous, and ruinous. Depending on the movie, you can go onto its website or YouTube and see a handful of TV spots—most of which repurpose the same shots, action, and dialogue, but tweak them ever so slightly to stand out—as well as teaser trailers and full trailers that often lay out a movie’s entire plot. If they don’t, they’re almost certainly going to show you some of the most impressive bits of action or the funniest jokes. It feels as if we’ve been clucking our tongues at trailers that spoil the films they sell since the advent of the Internet. So why, exactly, should we watch trailers for movies we know we’re going to see? [Read more...]
Over the last two decades, Pixar Animation Studios has been able to top its competitors by reaching an almost unattainbly high level of quality. Pixar isn’t worried, it seems, with topping DreamWorks, but topping only what they’ve done in the past. Those rival studios—really, any studio making a family film, animated or not—are judged against whatever Pixar makes, but the Emeryville, California company raises the bar mostly so they can clear it before anyone else does. We may become rapidly disappointed at their output when they release something like Cars 2 after Toy Story 3, but it’s only because when Pixar delivers on a promise of brilliance, they do so in such unbelievable, ridiculous, unexpectedly moving ways. Their various consecutive runs of quality are unparalleled in the modern film industry, which they’ve worked hard to be separate from. Pixar works with Disney, fully ensconced in the culture of Hollywood, but being placed hundreds of miles north makes them feel totally separate, even now. And yet, there is one disturbing trait they share with the greater film industry, one that needs to be fixed soon: Pixar has a woman problem.
Over the last year, a fast-growing and nearly deafening debate in the film world is that of Pixar Animation Studios vs. Walt Disney Animation Studios. For a long time, the two heavyweight fighters were Pixar and DreamWorks Animation, because Disney Animation was churning out titles such as Brother Bear and Chicken Little, not remotely close to representing serious competition. Since the success of Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, though, people have once again sat up and paid attention to the studio that started it all, seeing in its new breed of animators a serious challenge to Pixar’s creative and financial dominance. Now that Pixar’s had two consecutive features creatively falter to varying degrees—Brave was better than people give it credit for, but it never reached the vertiginous heights of Up or the raw emotion of Toy Story 3—and because they have a couple sequels at different stages of production, the knives are out, thanks to a built-in yet outlandish level of impatience.
With Brave set in ancient Scotland, kilts are the go-to article of clothing for the male characters of the film. Pixar actually designed the unique patterns on the kilts that represent each of the various tribes of the kingdom. You can eye the designs in a new featurette released exclusively by Apple Trailers, which parodies the often (unintentionally) hilarious fashion ads that play on TV and movie screens. Take a look at the Brave featurette in HD after the jump! [Read more...]
Yesterday, we launched a new column called Al’s Steal of the Day, meant to highlight great deals on Pixar related items. Today, we are launching yet another column – Pixar Extras! – set up to bring you bits of Pixar from around the web. It is a collection of Pixar-related artwork, products, and cool goodies that may not make make it into their own full-blown articles, but are too sweet to simply ignore. Check out this week’s edition of Pixar Extras! after the jump! [Read more...]
Over the past few days, new interviews have emerged with two of the actors who have substantial roles in Pixar’s upcoming film, Brave. Star Kelly Macdonald, who is voicing main character Merida, and Kevin McKidd, voice of Lord MacGuffin and Young MacGuffin, both spoke with The Press Association about how it has been working on a film made by Pixar. Additionally, McKidd also spoke with MovieWeb on what it has been like to voice two characters for the animated film. Read on for some snippets from their interviews! [Read more...]
D23 Expo goers were given a rare and wonderful opportunity this past Sunday when Pixar presented “The Art of Brave.” The panel, hosted by production designer Steve Pilcher and shader art director Tia Kratter, offered a glimpse into the production and visual development process of the studio’s next animated feature. This really was something special. It was like personally being walked through an “Art of…” book with the artists themselves. They revealed beautiful concept images and pencil sketches featuring everything from landscapes and environments to characters and costumes. From what was shown, it is clear that this will be one of Pixar’s most beautiful films to date. [Read more...]
The Wrap is reporting (and The Pixar Blog has confirmed) that there has been a shift in release date for Brave, which is scheduled to hit theaters in 2012. No need to pout too much, as it is only being pushed back by a week. Originally slated to arrive on June 15, 2012, the film is now lighting up movie theaters on June 22. [Read more...]
In an interview with MovieWeb posted earlier today, Toy Story 3 director, Lee Unkrich, talks about the overwhelming success of his film:
It was very, very cool to see this little movie we made in Emeryville, California be embraced by so many different cultures around the world.
The interview then shifted to Pixar’s upcoming films. I have listed the highlights of the interview: [Read more...]