Oscars Shmoscars. The Annie Awards are where the real glory is.
In all seriousness, animation is an unappreciated medium, so the 2011 Annie Awards is a phenomenon that really deserves our attention. The nominations are in for this year's awards ceremony, celebrating the art, production, writing, directing and acting in animated projects.
As you check out the nominees below, begin to realize that you're not nearly as happy as you could be. Then, watch all of the movies listed. Problem solved.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
A Cat in Paris – Folimage
Arrugas (Wrinkles) – Perro Verde Films, S.L.
Arthur Christmas – Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
Cars 2 – Pixar Animation Studios
Chico & Rita – Chico & Rita Distribution Limited
Kung Fu Panda 2 – DreamWorks Animation
Puss In Boots – DreamWorks Animation
Rango – Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Production
Rio – Blue Sky Studios
Tintin – Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall
BEST ANIMATED SPECIAL PRODUCTION
Adventure Time: Thank You – Cartoon Network Studios
Batman: Year One – Warner Bros. Animation
Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas – Blue Sky Studios
Kung Fu Panda – Secrets of the Masters – DreamWorks Animation
Prey 2 –Blur Studio
Star Tours – Industrial Light & Magic
BEST ANIMATED SHORT SUBJECT
Adam and Dog – Lodge Films
I Tawt I Taw A Puddy Tat – Warner Bros. Animation
La Luna – Pixar Animation Studios
(Notes on) Biology – Ornana Films
Paths of Hate – Platige Image
Sunday – National Film Board of Canada
The Ballad of Nessie –Walt Disney Animation Studios
The Girl and the Fox – Base14
Wild Life – National Film Board of Canada and Studio GDS
BEST ANIMATED TELEVISION COMMERCIAL
Audi “Hummingbird” – The Mill
Geico “Foghorn” – Renegade Animation
McDonald’s “Apple Tree” – Duck Studios/Kompost
McDonald’s “Suzi Van Zoom” – Duck Studios/Kompost
Norton “Stuff”– Psyop
O2 “Niggles & Narks” – The Mill
Statoil “Good Night” – Studio AKA
“The Pirate” – Meindbender
Twinings “Sea” – Psyop
BEST GENERAL AUDIENCE ANIMATED TV PRODUCTION
Archer – FX Productions
Green Lantern: The Animated Series – Warner Bros. Animation
Hoops & YoYo Ruin Christmas - Hallmark
MAD – Warner Bros. Animation
Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2 – Starburns Industries, Inc.
Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Lucasfilm Animation, Ltd.
The Simpsons – Gracie Films
BEST ANIMATED TELEVISION PRODUCTION - PRESCHOOL
Chuggington – Ludorum Pictures
Disney's Jake and the Never Land Pirates – Disney Television Animation
Disney's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – Disney Television Animation
The WotWots Season 2 – Pukeko Pictures
BEST ANIMATED TELEVISION PRODUCTION - CHILDREN
Fanboy and Chum Chum – Nickelodeon and Frederator
Kung Fu Panda – DreamWorks Animation
Penguins of Madagascar – DreamWorks Animation
The Amazing World of Gumball – Cartoon Network in Association with Dandelion Studios, Boulder Media & Studio Soi
BEST ANIMATED VIDEO GAME
Bumpy Road – Simogo
Catherine – Atlus
Gears of War 3 – Epic Games
Gesundheit – Konami Digital Entertainment
Ghost Trick: “Phantom Detective” – Capcom
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet – Shadow Planet Productions, Gagne/Fuelcell
Ratchet and Clark: All 4 One – Insomniac
Rayman Origins – Ubisoft Montpellier
Unchartered 3: Drake’s Deception – Naughty Dog
ANIMATED EFFECTS IN AN ANIMATED PRODUCTION
Can Yuksel “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
Chase Cooper “Rango” Industrial Light & Magic
Dan Lund “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Dave Tidgewell “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Eric Froemling “Cars 2” Pixar Animation Studios
Jason Mayer “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Joel Aron “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Lucasfilm Animation, Ltd.
Jon Reisch “Cars 2” Pixar Animation Studios
Kevin Romond “Tintin” Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall
Willi Geiger “Rango” Industrial Light & Magic
ANIMATED EFFECTS IN A LIVE ACTION PRODUCTION
Branko Grujcic “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” Industrial Light & Magic
Florent Andarra “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Industrial Light & Magic
Gary Wu “Cowboys & Aliens” Industrial Light & Magic
Lee Uren “Cowboys & Aliens” Industrial Light & Magic
CHARACTER ANIMATION IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Chad Sellers “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Michael Franceschi “Kung Fu Panda” Nickelodeon
Rebecca Wilson Bresee “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Sihanouk Mariona “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” Starburns Industries, Inc.
Tony Smeed “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
CHARACTER ANIMATION IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Andreas Deja “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Dan Wagner “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Jeff Gabor “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
Mark Henn “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Olivier Staphylas “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
Patrik Puhala “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
Pierre Perifel “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
CHARACTER ANIMATION IN A LIVE ACTION PRODUCTION
Andy Arnett “HOP” Rhythm & Hues, Illumination Entertainment
David Lowry “Paul” Double Negative Visual Effects for Universal
Productions/Relativity Media/Working Title Films/Big Talk Productions
Eric Reynolds “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” 20th Century Fox
Mike Hull “Paul” Double Negative Visual Effects for Universal
Productions/Relativity Media/Working Title Films/Big Talk Productions
CHARACTER DESIGN IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Bill Schwab “Prep & Landing” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Carl Raggio “Disney Kick Buttowski” Disney Television Animation
Chad Hurd “Archer” FX Productions
Chris Battle “Dan Vs.” Starz Film Roman
Eric Robles “Fanboy and Chum Chum” Nickelodeon & Frederator
Gordon Hammond “TUFF Puppy” Nickelodeon
Mike Dougherty “TUFF Puppy” Nickelodeon
Robert Ryan Cory “Secret Mountain Fort Awesome” Cartoon Network Studios
CHARACTER DESIGN IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Jay Shuster “Cars 2” Pixar Animation Studios
Mark “Crash” McCreery “Rango” Paramount Pictures and
Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Productions
Patrick Mate “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
Peter de Seve “Arthur Christmas” Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
Sergio Pablos “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
DIRECTING IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Brian Sheesley “Dan Vs.” Starz Film Roman
Chris Savino & Clay Morrow “ Disney Kick Buttowski” Disney Television Animation
Dan Riba “Ben 10 Ultimate Alien” Cartoon Network Studios
Duke Johnson “Community” 23 D Films, Inc.
Gabe Swarr “Kung Fu Panda” Nickelodeon
Ken Bruce “TUFF Puppy” Nickelodeon
Kevin Deters & Stevie Wermers-Skelton “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Matthew Nastuk “The Simpsons” Gracie Films
Mic Graves & Ben Bocquelet “The Amazing World of Gumball”
Cartoon Network Europe in association with Dandelion Studios, Boulder Media & Studio Soi
Peter Hausner “Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu” Wil Film
Steve Loter, Christo Stamboliev, Shaun Cashman, David Knott “Penguins of Madagascar” Nickelodeon and Technicolor
Tony Craig “Hoops & YoYo Ruin Christmas” Hallmark
DIRECTING IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Carlos Saldahna “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
Chris Miller “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
Don Hall & Stephen Anderson “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Gore Verbinski “Rango” Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present a Blind Wink/GK Films Productions
Jennifer Yuh Nelson “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Kelly Asbury “Gnomeo & Juliet” Touchstone Pictures
MUSIC IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Adam Berry, Bob Schooley, Mark McCorkle “Penguins of Madagascar” Nickelodeon and Technicolor
Ben Locket “The Amazing World of Gumball” Cartoon Network Europe in association with Dandelion Studios, Boulder Media & Studio Soi
Frederik Wiedmann “Green Lantern The Animated Series” Warner Bros. Animation
Grace Potter, Michael Giacchino “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Joel McNeely, Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda “Pixie Hollow Games” DisneyToon Studios
Kevin Kliesch “Thundercats” Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network
Shawn Patterson, Zeb Wells “Robot Chicken” ShadowMachine and Stoopid Monkey in association with Adult Swim
MUSIC IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Henry Jackman “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
John Williams “Tintin” Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall
Mikael Mutti, Siedah Garrett, Carlinhos Brown, Sergio Mendes, John Powell, “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
Zooey Deschannel, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Henry Jackman, Robert Lopez “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
PRODUCTION DESIGN IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Mark Bodner, Chris Tsirgiotis, Sue Mondt and Daniel Elson “Secret Mountain Fort Awesome” Cartoon Network Studios
Peter Martin “Hoops & YoYo Ruin Christmas” Hallmark
PRODUCTION DESIGN IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Harley Jessup “Cars 2” Pixar Animation Studios
Paul Felix “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Raymond Zilbach “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Tom Cardone, Kyle MacNaughton & Peter Chan “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
STORYBOARDING IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Barry W. Johnson “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Benton Connor “Regular Show” Cartoon Network Studios
Brian Kesinger “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Dave Thomas “TUFF Puppy” Nickelodeon
Fred Gonzalez “TUFF Puppy” Nickelodeon
Joe Mateo “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Justin Nichols “Fanboy & Chum Chum” Nickelodeon & Frederator
Katie Rice “Fanboy & Chum Chum” Nickelodeon & Frederator
Rebecca Sugar “Adventure Time” Cartoon Network Studios
STORYBOARDING IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Bob Logan “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
David Gosman “Rango” Paramount Pictures & Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Production
Gary Graham “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Jeremy Spears “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Josh Hayes “Rango” Paramount Pictures & Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Production
Kris Pearn “Arthur Christmas” Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
Nelson Yokota “Gnomeo and Juliet” Touchstone Pictures
Philip Craven “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Scott Morse “Cars 2” Pixar Animation Studios
VOICE ACTING IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Carlos Alazraqui as Denzel Crocker “Fairly OddParents” Nickelodeon
Dan Harmon as Jekyll “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” Starburns Industries, Inc.
Daran Norris as Cosmo “Fairly OddParents” Nickelodeon
Dee Bradley Baker as Obi-Wan “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Lucasfilm Animation, Ltd.
Diedrich Bader as Batman “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” Warner Bros. Animation
H. Jon Benjamin as Sterling Archer “Archer” FX Productions
Jeff Bennett as Kowalski “Penguins of Madagascar” Nickelodeon and Technicolor
Jeff B. Davis as Victor Frankenstein “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” Starburns Industries, Inc.
Jessica Walter as Malory Archer “Archer” FX Productions
Judy Greer as Cheryl Tunt “Archer” FX Productions
Logan Grove as Gumball “The Amazing World of Gumball” Cartoon Network Europe in association with Dandelion Studios, Boulder Media & Studio Soi
Nika Futterman as Asajj Ventress “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Lucasfilm Animation, Ltd.
Scott Adsit as the Creature “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” Starburns Industries, Inc.
Tara Strong as Timmy Turner “Fairly OddParents – Operation Dingleberg” Nickelodeon
VOICE ACTING IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Ashley Jensen as Bryony “Arthur Christmas” Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
Bill Nighy as Grandsanta “Arthur Christmas” Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
Gary Oldman as Shen “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
James Hong as Mr. Ping “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Jemaine Clement as Nigel “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
Jim Cummings as Featherstone “Gnomeo and Juliet” Touchstone Pictures
Zach Galifianakis as Humpty Alexander Dumpty “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
WRITING IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Blake Lemons, William Reiss, C.H. Greenblatt, Derek Evanick, Diana Lafyatis, Neil Graf “Disney Fish Hooks – Fish School Musical”
Disney Television AnimationCarolyn Omine “The Simpsons -Treehouse of Horror XXII” – Gracie Films
Dani MIchaeli, Sean Charmatz, Nate Cash, Luke Brookshier, Paul
Tibbitt “SpongeBob SquarePants - Patrick’s Staycation” Nickelodeon
Josh Weinstein “Futurama - All The President’s Heads” The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Television
Kevin Sullivan, Will Schifrin, Ray DeLaurentis “TUFF Puppy Thunder Dog” Nickelodeon
Matt Maiellaro, Dave Willis “Agua Unit Patrol Squad 1 – The Creditor” Williams Street Studios, Adult Swim
Ray DeLaurentis, Will Schifrin “Fairly OddParents “Invasion of the Dads” Nickelodeon
Steve Wermers-Skelton, Kevin Deters “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
WRITING IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Andy Riley, Kevin Cecil, Mark Burton, Kathy Greenburg, Emily Cook, Rob Sprackling, John R. Smith, Kelly Asbury, Steve Hamilton “Gnomeo & Juliet” Touchstone Pictures
Brian Kesinger, Kendelle Hoyer, Don Dougherty, Clio Chang, Don Hall, Stephen Anderson “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
John Logan, Gore Verbinski and James Byrkit “Rango” Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Productions
Sarah Smith, Peter Baynham “Arthur Christmas” Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman AnimationsSteve Moffat, Edgar Wright, Joe Cronish “Tintin” Amblin
Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall
EDITING IN TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Garret Elkins “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” Starburn Industries, Inc.
Hugo Morales “Kung Fu Panda” Nickelodeon Jason W.A. Tucker “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Lucasfilm Animation, Ltd.
Paul D. Calder “Futurama” The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Television
Ted Machold, Jeff Adams, Doug Tiano, Bob Tomlin “Penguins of Madagascar” Nickelodeon and Technicolor
EDITING IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Clare Knight, A.C.E. “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Craig Wood, A.C.E. “Rango” Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon
Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Productions
Eric Dapkewicz “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
Michael Kahn “Tintin” Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall
Stephen Schaffer, A.C.E. “Cars 2” Pixar Animation Studios
Winsor McCay Award – Walt Peregoy, Borge Ring, Robert Searle
June Foray – Art Leonardi
Special Achievement – Depth Analysis
There are 115 films selected for this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Even the most die-hard film buff couldn’t see each one that Park City, Utah has to offer but luckily we have selected the few that look most promising based solely on their loglines, cast, etc. (for a full list of competing films go here, for a full list of non-competing films here). Check out our top picks below!
Cedar Rapids (Director: Miguel Arteta; Screenwriter: Phil Johnston) —A wholesome and naive small-town Wisconsin man travels to big city Cedar Rapids, Iowa to represent his company at a regional insurance conference. Cast: Ed Helms, John C Reilly, Anne Heche, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Alia Shawkat, Sigourney Weaver.
Ed Helms helped write the movie. That alone should sell the film to you.
The Details (Director and screenwriter: Jacob Aaron Estes) —When hungry raccoons discover worms living under the sod in a young couple’s backyard, the pest problem sets off a wild and absurd chain reaction of domestic tension, infidelity, organ donation and murder by way of bow and arrow.Cast: Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney, Ray Liotta, Dennis Haysbert. A movie with raccoons, infidelity, Elizabeth Banks, and a death by bow and arrow? Sold.
Life in a Day (Director: Kevin Macdonald) —Life in a Day is a historic global experiment to create the world’s largest user-generated feature film. On July 24, 2010, professional and amateur filmmakers captured a glimpse of their lives on camera and uploaded the footage to YouTube, serving as a time capsule for future generations. While the film may be boring, the fact that they did this makes the film worth watching.
The Music Never Stopped (Director: Jim Kohlberg; Screenwriters: Gwyn Lurie and Gary Marks, based on the story “The Last Hippie” by Oliver Sacks) — A father struggles to bond with his estranged son who suffers a brain tumor that prevents him from forming new memories. He learns to embrace his son’s choices and to try to connect with him through the power of music. Cast: J.K. Simmons, Julia Ormond, Cara Seymour, Lou Taylor Pucci, Mia Maestro. While this sounds a little too sad for my tastes, J.K. Simmons is the man. He alone could get me into any movie so I guess I’ll stick it out for this one.
My Idiot Brother (Director: Jesse Peretz; Screenwriters: Evgenia Peretz and David Schisgall) — After serving time for selling pot, Ned successively moves in with each of his three sisters as he tries to get back on his feet. His best intentions quickly bring the family to the cusp of chaos and ultimately the brink of clarity. Cast: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer. If the cast alone isn’t working for you, Zooey Deschanel plays a lesbian with Rashida Jones. Don’t forget to breathe.
Perfect Sense (Director: David Mackenzie; Screenwriter: Kim Fupz Aakeson) —A poetic and magnetic love story about two people who start to fall in love just as the world begins to fall apart. Cast: Ewan McGregor, Eva Green, Ewen Bremner, Stephen Dillane, Denis Lawson and Connie Nielsen. I only included this one for its ridiculous logline.
Red State (Director and screenwriter: Kevin Smith) — A group of misfits encounter extreme fundamentalism in Middle America. Cast: Michael Parks, Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner, John Goodman, Melissa Leo. Let’s see how well Kevin Smith handles the horror genre. He’s been talking about this one for years, time for him to put up or shut up. Though something tells me that won’t happen any time soon.
Salvation Boulevard (Director: George Ratliff; Screenwriters: Doug Max Stone and George Ratliff, based on the novel by Larry Beinhart) —An evangelical preacher who has captivated a city with his charm frames an ex-hippie for a crime he did not commit. Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, Greg Kinnear, Marisa Tomei. There is something alluring about the prospect of a preacher framing someone for something they didn’t do. Add this cast in and we’re definitely excited.
The Son of No One (Director and screenwriter: Dito Montiel) —Two men in post-9/11 New York are forced to relive two murders they committed as young boys. Their lives start to unravel by the threat of the revelation of these shocking and personal secrets. Cast: Channing Tatum, Al Pacino, Katie Holmes, Tracy Morgan, Ray Liotta, Juliette Binoche. The closing night film doesn’t sound too interesting except that it has Tracy Morgan. Color me intrigued and let me stroke my long and gorgeous goatee.
Bobby Fischer Against the World (Director: Liz Garbus) — The drama of late chess-master Bobby Fischer's career was undeniable,as he careened from troubled childhood, to World Champion and Cold War icon, to a fugitive on the run. Bobby Fishcer is one of the most fascinating people to ever become a grand champion of chess. His story has been told before but personally I don’t think one more will hurt.
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (Director: Morgan Spurlock) — A documentary about branding, advertising and product placement is financed and made possible by branding, advertising and product placement. A film buff endorsing a movie from one of the best documentarians working in his new film about the film business? You must be crazy.
Bellflower (Director and screenwriter: Evan Glodell) — A ballad for every person who has ever loved and lost – with enough violence, weapons, action and sex to tell a love story with apocalyptic stakes. Cast: Evan Glodell, Jessie Wiseman, Tyler Dawson, Rebekah Brandes. Case in point of a second half of a sentence completely saving the sentence from the first half.
Lord Byron (Director: Zack Godshall; Screenwriters: Zack Godshall and Ross Brupbacher) — When he's not pursuing women, Byron is smoking weed and loafing around. But he's grown restless in his middle-age and feels the need to escape – he just doesn't know where to go. Cast: Paul Batiste, Gwendolyn Spradling, Kayla Lemaire. We’re definitely not wanting to see this looking for advice. Definitely not.
The Off Hours (Director and screenwriter: Megan Griffiths) — A passing truck driver brings an unfamiliar sense of optimism to a woman working the night shift at a quiet diner, reminding her it's never too late to become the person you always wanted to be. Cast: Amy Seimetz, Ross Partridge, Scoot McNairy, Lynn Shelton, Bret Roberts, Tony Doupe. I love truck drivers. I’m pretty sure I still want to be one. If this doesn’t have a killer country soundtrack I want my money back (which is whopping zero dollars, but whatever).
to.get.her (Director and screenwriter: Erica Dunton) — Five girls come together for one fateful night where anything goes. They all had secrets, but their friendship was the only thing they knew to be true. Cast: Jazzy De Lisser, Chelsea Logan, Adwoa Aboah, Jami Eaton, Audrey Speicher. BLUGH.
Kaboom (Director and screenwriter: Gregg Araki)— A science fiction story centered on the sexual awakening of a group of college students. Cast: Thomas Dekker, Haley Bennett, Chris Zylka, Roxane Mesquida, Juno Temple. A science fiction film about sexual awakening? I’m there.
Meek’s Cutoff (Director: Kelly Reichardt; Screenwriter: Jon Raymond) — In 1845, three families who have hired mountaineer Stephen Meek to guide their wagons over the Cascade Mountains get lost and face hunger, thirst and a lack of faith in their instincts for survival. Cast: Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Zoe Kaza, Bruce Greenwood, Shirley Henderson. So this is basically a period piece of Alive with two of the best actors around. Done.
Submarine (Director: Richard Ayoade; Screenwriter: Richard Ayoade from the novel by Joe Dunthorne) — Fifteen-year-old Oliver Tate has two big ambitions: to save his parents' marriage and to lose his virginity before his next birthday. Cast: Craig Roberts, Paddy Considine, Sally Hawkins, Yasmin Paige. This film had a big showing at this years Toronto Film Festival. I just want to see it already!
Uncle Kent (Director: Joe Swanberg; Screenwriters: Joe Swanberg and Kent Osborne) — A pothead cartoonist in Los Angeles spends a weekend trying to sleep with his visiting house guest – a woman from New York he met on Chatroulette. Cast: Kent Osborne. While the premise sounds awesome, basing around the already past its prime fad Chatroulette seems like a wrong move.
Hobo with A Shotgun (Director: Jason Eisener; Screenwriter: Johnathan Davies) — A hobo hops from a train with dreams of a fresh life in a new city, but instead finds himself trapped in an urban hell. When he witnesses a brutal robbery, he realizes the only way to deliver justice is with a shotgun in his hands and two shells in the chamber. Cast: Rutger Hauer, Molly Dunsworth, Gregory Smith, Brian Downey. Looks like we found the winner for Best Title.
Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same (Director and screenwriter: Madeleine Olnek) — A shy greeting card store employee unknowingly falls for a lesbian space alien while two government agents closely track their romance. Cast: Lisa Haas, Susan Ziegler, Jackie Monahan, Cynthia Kaplan, Dennis Davis, Alex Karpovsky, Rae C Wright. Just kidding about the best title thing from above. This is the clear winner.
Troll Hunter (Trolljegeren) (Director: Andre Ovredal) — A group of student filmmakers get more than they bargained for when tangling with a man tasked with protecting Norway from giant trolls. Cast: Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Hans Morten Hansen, Johanna Mørch, Tomas Alf Larsen. Norwegian giant trolls, what more could you ask for?
Corman’s World: Exploits Of A Hollywood Rebel (Director: Alex Stapleton) — Tracks the triumphant rise of Hollywood’s most prolific writer-director-producer, the true godfather of independent filmmaking. Cast: Jack Nicholson, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, James Cameron, Roger Corman. Just look at who all is involved and tell why you wouldn’t watch this? Now shut up and learn something.
Jess + Moss (Director: Clay Jeter; Screenwriters: Clay Jeter and Debra Jeter) — Without immediate families that they can relate to, and lacking friends their own age, second cousins Jess and Moss only have each other. A series of visceral vignettes conjure memories of companionship and sexual awakening during a summer shared together on their Kentucky farm. Cast: Sarah Hagan, Austin Vickers. So it’s like George Michael and Maebe make a movie? Whatever, I’ll watch.
The Nine Muses (Director and screenwriter: John Akomfrah) — An allegorical fable divided into overlapping musical chapters, this film retells the history of mass migration to post-war Britain through the suggestive lens of Homer's epic poem, The Odyssey. And the Most Pretentious Sounding Film award goes to The Nine Muses. Thanks for playing.
Benavides Born (Director: Amy Wendel; Screenwriters: Daniel Meisel and Amy Wendel) — A high school senior in a forgotten town has earned admission to the University of Texas at Austin but can't afford to go. Her one shot is a scholarship for winning the State Powerlifting Championship. Cast: Corina Calderon, Jeremy Ray Valdez, Joseph Julian Soria, Julia Vera, Julio César Cedillo. Female Powerlifting hasn’t exactly gotten the best films attached to it. I hope this film changes that.
Homework (Director and screenwriter: Gavin Wiesen) — Quirky, rebellious George has no ambitions other than to cut his next class. But one day, one girl gives him the perfect reason to figure out who he really is. Cast: Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts, Michael Angarano, Elizabeth Reaser with Rita Wilson and Blair Underwood. This sounds stupid but Emma Roberts is kind of cute, so who knows.
The Ledge (Director and screenwriter: Matthew Chapman) — Perched on a ledge, a man says he must jump by noon, while a cop races against time to get to the bottom of it. Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Liv Tyler, Patrick Wilson and Terrence Howard with Christopher Gorham. Early reviews of this film say its really good. So I’ll go along for now.
Like Crazy (Director: Drake Doremus; Screenwriters: Drake Doremus and Ben York Jones) — A young American guy and a young British girl meet in college and fall in love. Their love is tested when she is required to leave the country and they must face the challenges of a long-distance relationship. Cast: Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston. UGH... wait, it’s Anton Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence? Never mind, this is going to be awesome.
Take Shelter (Director and screenwriter: Jeff Nichols) — A working-class husband and father questions whether his terrifying dreams of an apocalyptic storm signal something real to come or the onset of an inherited mental illness he's feared his whole life. Cast: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon, Kathy Baker. This looks super serious, and that’s great, but I really just want to see Katy Mixon.
Terri (Director: Azazel Jacobs; Screenwriters: Patrick Dewitt and Azazel Jacobs) — Orphaned to an uncle who is fading away, mercilessly teased by his peers and roundly ignored by his teachers, Terri is alienated and alone. When the dreaded vice-principal sees something of himself in Terri, they establish a friendship which opens Terri up to the possibility that life is not something to be endured, but something to be shared, and even enjoyed. Cast: Jacob Wysocki, John C. Reilly, Creed Bratton, Olivia Crocicchia, Bridger Zadina. Ok, I know this film sounds ridiculous, but it has Creed Bratton in it. That’s gotta count for something, right?
The Untitled Sam Levinson Project (Director and screenwriter: Sam Levinson) — A pair of reckless siblings are dragged into a chaotic family wedding by their overwrought mother. Cast: Demi Moore, Kate Bosworth, Jeffrey DeMunn, Ellen Barkin, Ellen Burstyn, Thomas Haden Church. Wedding movies involving dis-functional families are always the best.
BEING ELMO: A Puppeteer’s Journey (Director: Constance Marks) — The Muppet Elmo is one of the most beloved characters among children across the globe. Meet the unlikely man behind the puppet – the heart and soul of Elmo – Kevin Clash. A movie about the guy who has his hand up Elmo’s butt all day? Actually, that sounds kind of sweet.
Page One: A year inside the New York Times (Director: Andrew Rossi; Screenwriters: Kate Novack and Andrew Rossi) — Unprecedented access to theNew York Times newsroom yields a complex view of the transformation of a media landscape fraught with both peril and opportunity. Something tells me it will be more than bored journalists checking Twitter all day.
The Redemption of General Butt Naked (Directors: Eric Strauss and Daniele Anastasion) — A brutal warlord who murdered thousands during Liberia's horrific 14-year civil war renounces his violent past and reinvents himself as an Evangelist, facing those he once terrorized. And the award for logline least like the film the title suggests goes to this film.
Abraxas (Director: Dai Sako; Screenwriters: Dai Sako and Naoki Kato) — After botching a speech on career guidance at a local high school, a depressed Zen monk with a heavy metal past realizes that only music can revive his spirit.Cast: Suneohair, Rie Tomosaka, Manami Honjou, Ryouta Murai, Kaoru Kobayashi.
Zen monks and heavy metal? This nirvana goes to 11.
All Your Dead Ones (Todos Tus Muertos) (Director Carlos Moreno; Screenwriters: Alonso Torres and Carlos Moreno) — One morning, a peasant wakes to find a pile of bodies in the middle of his crops. When he goes to the authorities, he quickly realizes that the dead ones are a problem nobody wants to deal with. Cast: Alvaro Rodríguez, Jorge Herrera, Martha Marquez, Harold Devasten, John Alex Castillo. Sounds gross to find a bunch of dead bodies amongst your crops, but it does sound like a great film.
Happy, Happy (Sykt Lykkelig) (Director: Anne Sewitsky; Screenwriter: Ragnhild Tronvoll) — A perfect housewife, who just happens to be sex-starved, struggles to keep her emotions in check when an attractive family moves in next door. Cast: Agnes Kittelsen, Henrik Rafaelsen, Maibritt Saerens, Joachim Rafaelsen.
You had me at sex-starved Norwegian housewife.
Vampire (Director and screenwriter: Iwai Shunji) — On the surface, Simon seems like a fairly normal, average young man, devoted to his teaching job and ailing mother. Secretly, he is compelled to hunt through online chat rooms and message boards, searching for the perfect girl who will ensure his own survival. Cast: Kevin Zegers, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rachel Leigh Cook, Kristin Kreuk, Aoi Yu and Adelaide Clemens. A Japanese film about creepy guys hunting girls? Surely you jest.
KNUCKLE (Director: Ian Palmer) — An epic 12-year journey into the brutal and secretive world of Irish Traveler bare-knuckle fighting, this film follows a history of violent feuding between rival clans. I hope this film will make me want to break a bottle over my head and throw someone out a pub window.
Project Nim (Director: James Marsh) — From the Oscar-winning team behind Man on Wire comes the story of Nim, the chimpanzee who was taught to communicate with language as he was raised and nurtured like a human child. I’ve often dreamed of a world where men and monkeys live as one. Also I’ve always wanted to ask a Gorilla if he wanted to play video games with me.
Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure (Director:Matthew Bate) — When two friends tape-recorded the fights of their violently noisy neighbors, they accidentally created one of the world's first 'viral' pop-culture sensations. And with a great title and an intriguing logline, this film has me wanting more. Sounds delightful.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.