By: Peter Kosanovich
Now, without further ado, here is this year’s breakdown of the animated film category as represented at the Academy Awards. Starting with the smallest, most out-of-left-field film, there is My Life as a Zucchini. Unfortunately, My Life as a Zucchini has yet to have its US release (February 24, 2017), which means I have not had the opportunity to see it, but because the Academy so rarely gives the win to the foreign film I do not actually see this winning. That being said, do go see it when it comes out, as the reviews so far have only been good! Next is The Red Turtle, co-produced by Studio Ghibli, which immediately gives the movie a little more clout than others. Interestingly though, to make the story universally understandable, the movie is almost entirely without dialogue, besides standard efforts, or reactionary sounds such as grunting or non-descript yelling. Because of this, despite the beauty of the film, the audience has been more limited, and I do not see The Red Turtle gaining enough momentum to persuade voters in its favor. It did, however, win the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature – Independent; the Annie Awards highlight accomplishments within the animation field specifically. Getting into the heavy-hitters is Moana, Disney’s effort to diversify its princess lineup. Focusing on the daughter of a Polynesian island chief, Moana follows the titular heroine as she embarks on a quest to save her island from being swallowed up by the ocean. The film tells a wonderful, well-constructed heroes journey featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and newcomer Auli’i Cravalho, accompanied by the musical styling’s of Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda. Personally, this was one of my favorite movies of the year, showcasing beautiful animation, wonderful music, a brief glimpse into Polynesian culture, and I wish it could win; somehow, as well as Moana has been received by both critics and audiences, it has mostly fallen off the radar during this award season. I’m not sure how a Disney Princess musical manages to be an underdog, but that’s what I see it as this year, as it really has not performed well at various other award shows and circuits.