I’ve made it no secret that I do not like the Apple+ service that much. I find its layout to be subpar and its content to be so sparse that I can’t imagine paying for it at all. Honestly, I only have it because I got a few years for free and even with that I’ve still never been that bothered to use it even when they finally put an app on game consoles meaning I can actually watch their limited content on the TV.
When it comes to the Oscar race this year for best animated film, it feels like Soulis the foregone conclusion. It’s kind of hard to beat a film that was so funny and poignant with such impeccable visuals and was such a cultural event. However, the race isn’t quite over yet and I would like to offer a wild card entry that might sneak in at the last minute, that being the Netflix original film Over The Moon.
In 2012, author Katherine Applegate released The One And Only Ivan. The novel was based on the real story of a circus gorilla named Ivan who was kept in the middle of a shopping mall until a large petition and the threat of a massive boycott got him transferred to a zoo where he would have something resembling actual freedom. The book was a smash hit, winning several awards and appearing on several “must read’ lists so an adaptation was inevitable and Disney just happened to be the ones to do it… and their version got nominated for an Oscar, hence why we’re talking about it.
Aardman Animation has a long history of creating some of the greatest animated works around. Their unique and iconic style has been a constant ever since the early Wallace and Gromit shorts were delighting kids in the early 90s (oh god I feel old). Since then they’ve become a standard-bearer in the world of claymation and their cinematic efforts have been constantly joyful, from the iconic Chicken Run (which is getting a sequel soon, now with 33% less angry anti-semite!) to the gloriously silly Curse of the WereRabbit. This year they’ve given us the second film in the Shaun the Sheep franchise and… oh my god it’s the most precious thing!
Once again Disney has done a weir business thing that only Disney could probably get away with, time once again to deal with the issue of the Premier Access where Disney expects an extra 30 bucks on top of their current streaming price in order to vide a movie, in this case Raya and the Last Dragon. They did this recently with Mulan(interesting how it’s only been the films with mostly Asian casts that get this treatment, not sure what that says but it’s an interesting trend) and back then I couldn’t justify it… I also couldn’t really justify this, but it was also in a local cinema and I genuinely believe that’s the best way to properly enjoy the visual spectacle of Raya and the Last Dragon
Robert Rodriguez is one of the most fascinating filmmakers of our time. Known as the one-man film crew, he’s got a reputation for doing everything on set. Not only directing and writing, we’re talking handling the editing and cinematography and score of his films, he’ll even carry the damn Steadicam if that’s what he has to do to get the job done. He’s also very well known for working with a limited budget, preferring to come up with creative solutions to his problems rather than just throw money at it. He’s the kind of director who you always look out for because no matter what he makes, you can guarantee that it’ll be interesting in some way. Well, now Netflix has decided to get this filmmaker on their payroll and let him have some fun and god I hope this is the first of many Netflix funded Rodriguez films to come because the man knows how to make a fun family film, which is the quick description of We Can Be Heroes.
Sometimes I wonder exactly what devil Pixar made a deal with in order to produce its films, because it’s getting to the point where their output is just consistently great. Even their worst film (The Good Dinosaur, I will not be taking arguments at this time) is better than what a lot of their competitors make and when they hit something out of the park it turns into one of the best films of all time. This year they already made one great film with Onward, which got shafted due to the pandemic, and were meant to release Soul in June. That pandemic made them pull Soul and then they had to rethink its release… enter Disney+, which now houses the best Pixar film of the year in Soul.
I’ve made it no secret how I feel about Disney remakes, I hate them, I hate them on a fundamental “These have no reason to exist beyond capitalism gone amuck” level. Sure, in a very real sense every remake is kind of pointless in some way, but the recent batch of Disney remakes seem to be extra pointless since they’ve taken to remaking some of their absolute classics. They don’t bother remaking things like The Black Cauldron or Oliver and Company, films that didn’t exactly do well. No, instead let’s remake classics like Dumbo, Aladdin and The Lion King… you know, that trilogy of remakes was so awful that I gave them all a joint place on my worst of 2019 list. Well, this year we add another film to the list of remakes… Mulan.
In 1983, Roald Dahl released his 14th novel The Witches and his story of a boy and his grandma going up against a coven of witches has always been somewhat polarizing. On the one hand, it’s a best selling novel that recently appeared on the BBC’s list of Top 100 most influential novels and on the other it’s been accused of being a misogynistic text ever since it released (and considering that the main villain is, essentially, every woman who isn’t a kindly old grandma and it was written by Roald Dahl… yeah, yeah that’s definitely there).
At some point in every prestige actor’s career, you will hear them utter the following phrase… “I did this one for my grandkids”. It’s a phrase that’s almost always followed by a movie that won’t be remembered for long but it’s forgivable because it’s for kids and clearly the actor in question would like something to share with their young relatives. Robert De Niro’s done enough films like The War With Grandpa, he can stop doing them any damn time that he wants!