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8 Animated Features in the Oscar Race You Might Have Missed

8 Animated Features in the Oscar Race You Might Have Missed

2015 will see two new Pixar animated features come to theaters and
win over audiences worldwide. But while this year looks like it’s going
to be a
profitable one for the studio behind films that have become pillars
of computer animation, 2014 was a quiet year for them. As a result,
other studios like
WB and “The LEGO Movie” or Dreamworks and the second installment in the “How to Train Your Dragon” series had much less
competition during most of the year.

Another great side effect of this Pixar-less year was the attention given to much smaller features with inventive stories and handcrafted visual
artistry. Among
these, traditional animation soared with the release of new films
from acclaimed animators like Bill Plympton, Cartoon Saloon’s Tomm Moore, and Studio Ghibli’s Isao
, as well
as Signe Baumane’s mind-bending feature debut. There were also 3D animated
alternatives from two pairs of French filmmakers, Hélène Giraud & Thomas Szabo and Stéphane Berla & Mathias Malzieu.

From the 20 films competing to be nominated as Best Animated Feature at the 87th
Academy Awards, only 6 were created using 2D animation and only
one, Laika’s “The Boxtrolls,” represented the stop-motion technique.
But despite being outnumbered by works done solely using digital tools,
these films
prove that intimate storytelling and laborious work can certainly be
more rewarding than following the industry’s conventions.

Since these films and their creators often don’t have the resources
that major studios do for promotion, several of them might have slipped
through the
cracks. However, they are worthy of as much, or even more
praise as any big budget animated feature released last year. Here is
a list of 8 of
them that deserve a wider audience. Many of them are visual wonders
that challenge our imagination in heartwarming, intelligent, and even provocative
ways. Furthermore, two
of them managed to become Academy Award nominees against the odds.


Dir: Bill Plympton
Country: U.S.
Language: English
U.S Distribution: None Yet
PC: Bill Plympton Studios
Where to Watch? Plympton’s latest screened at numerous festivals around the world during 2013- 2014 and it had a one-week theatrical run in Los Angeles back in August. For information on future screenings and a possible Blu-ray/DVD release visit the film’s official site  HERE or follow the director on Facebook and on Twitter @plymptoons

Giovanni’s Island

Dir:  Mizuho Nishikubo
Country:  Japan
Language:  Japanese/Russian
U.S Distribution:  GKIDS
PC:  Production I.G.
Where to Watch?  After playing at several festivals the film received a one-week qualifying run in Los Angeles last November. For future information on a broader theatrical or home entertainment release visit GKIDS or Production I.G.

Henry & Me

Dir:  Barrett Esposito
Country:  U.S.
Language:  English
U.S Distribution:  Henry & Me Productions
PC:  Reveal Animation Studios  
Where to Watch?  Following a short NYC theatrical run in August, the film became available on DVD and digital platforms on September 30, 2014.  

Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart

Dir:  Stéphane Berla & Mathias Malzieu
Country:  France/Belgium
Language:  French/English
U.S Distribution:  Shout! Factory
ISA:  EuropaCorp
Where to Watch?  The film opened theatrically in select cities on September 24, 2014. It’s now available on Blu-Ray/DVD and digital platforms.

Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants

Dir:  Hélène Giraud & Thomas Szabo
Country:  France/Belgium
Language:  No Dialogue
U.S Distribution:  None Yet
ISA:  Futurikon
Where to Watch?  The film had its qualifying one-week theatrical run in December. For a future opportunities to see the film check the official site HERE.

Rocks in My Pockets

Dir:  Signe Baumane
Country:  Latvia
Language:  English/Latvian
U.S Distribution:  Zeitgeist Films
ISA:  New Europe Film Sales
Where to Watch?  Although the film opened back in August, there are still a few theatrical engagements coming up. Find them HERE. It will also be released on DVD/Digital Download on January 29, 2015 via the film’s official site.

Song of the Sea” – Academy Award Nominee

Dir:  Tomm Moore
Country:  Ireland/Luxembourg/Belgium/France/Denmark
Language:  English/ Scottish Gaelic
U.S Distribution:  GKIDS
ISA:  WestEnd Films
Where to Watch?  Currently playing in Los Angeles, NYC, and Toronto and expanding to more  U.S. cities in upcoming weeks. For exact dates visit HERE.

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” – Academy Award Nominee

Dir:  Isao Takahata
Country:  Japan
Language:  Japanese
U.S Distribution:  GKIDS
ISA:  Wild Bunch
Where to Watch?  Currently playing in several theaters around the country. For exact locations and dates visit HERE . The film will be released on Blu-Ray/DVD on February 17, 2015.

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