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2009-12-16

Golden Globe Nominations Announced

The Golden Globe Nominations have been announced, and Ghibli Freaks will be paying special attention to the Animation and Foreign Film categories.  Sadly, Ponyo did not receive any nominations.

The movies nominated for Best Animated Feature Film include Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and the Frog, and Up.

While I would have been thrilled to see Miyazaki's Ponyo given a nod, it most likely would have to be in the Foreign Language category, and not the Animation Feature.  American movies take center stage in this venue, and this year has been excellent for the animation medium.  There's just a lot of competition this time around.

I have to say I'm happy to see Coraline and Fantastic Mr. Fox given nominations.  I wouldn't expect either to win (Pixar will wrap up the award once again), but it's very good news to see these more independent-minded (and inventive) films acknowledged.  I would like to see more films like those.  I'd like to see the medium expand and grow, and not merely rehash or mimic what Pixar has done.

I know it's a silly old cliche, but sometimes, it really is good enough just to be nominated.  The artists behind these films should feel proud.  And they should feel inspired to create more intelligent, original movies.  The animation medium is dependent on fresh ideas, not formula.  Let's hope some good comes from this.

The big question, for me, is what this suggest for the Oscar nominations.  The Golden Globes are often viewed as an early indicator of where the Motion Picture Academy will go.  That's probably truer for the major acting categories, and less so for the "minor" categories, but this does suggest where

Obviously, I think Ponyo deserves an Oscar nomination for Best Animation Feature.  Heck, I think it deserves a nod for Best Picture, and I've harped on that enough.  But it is quite possible that Hollywood will decide that Hayao Miyazaki has already been recognized for his achievements when he won the Oscar for Spirited Away.  The Golden Globe nominations suggest this.  We'll have to wait and see what happens.

Hayao Miyazaki's Thoughts on Pixar's Up



A dedicated reader passed along this Youtube link, a segment from Japanese television showing Hayao Miyazaki welcoming Pete Doctor and Pixar and discussing their latest movie, Up.  The video clip includes subtitles of Miyazaki's comments, but only in Japanese.  I'm sure this will make it easier for someone to translate it into English.

If someone could help out with that, it would be greatly appreciated.  You could either send me an email so I could post it here, or you could just use the comments.

Back From Vacation

Hello, everybody!  I'm back from a two-week stint of battling the flu, and spending time with the future wife down in Bogota.  I just got back home earlier tonight, and I've been digging through overdue emails and resolving to get back to work on the Ghibli Blog.

News was pretty slow the last few months, but it appears that things are picking up again.  This can only be a good thing.  My deep thanks and gratitude to the community of Ghibli Freaks, every one of you who have opinions to share, questions to ask, and story tips to pass along.  This site wouldn't be possible without you.

2009-12-02

A Charlie Brown Christmas

(Update: This video has since been removed from Youtube.  Sorry.)

I see that A Charlie Brown Christmas is playing on the teevee this week, so I had to show it here on the blog.  It's much easier this way.  You won't have to feel frustrated with network-imposed cuts and too many commercials.  And watching online has a certain anti-establishment feel, which Charles Shultz' holiday classic shares.

I always say this is my favorite American animation of all, and I mean that sincerely.  I love the art style.  I love the way the Peanuts characters are brought to life on the screen.  I love those jazzy off-color backgrounds for the closeups.  Most of all, I love the story, so simple and sincere.  It's a story about childhood and the need to preserve their innocence from the cynicism of the adult world.  It's joyous for the sake of being joyous.  Moments come and go for no greater purpose than to depict daily life.  I'm thinking especially of the terrific opening on the lake.

In this regard, A Charlie Brown Christmas is the American Totoro.  For all the praise given to Hayao Miyazaki, I can't name a single animation produced in this country that strives to capture Totoro's lifelike pastoral feel.  Sparky Shultz and Bill Melendez were the only ones to ever pull it off.

And I am still amazed that this cartoon was even allowed on the air.  A prime-time cartoon show that decries and openly mocks commercialism?  Don't they know last week was Black Friday, the most important day of the year?  I got a lot invested in this ride!  Shut up!  Look at my furrowed brows of worry...this has to be real.

Ahem.  Don't know how I thought up Bill Hicks just there.  Maybe A Charlie Brown Christmas, as the saying goes, comes from a more innocent time.  Maybe the television medium was still new enough for more experimental content.  Maybe mass media has too much money attached to it in the 21st Century.  I wonder, as I munch on my Dolly Madisons, could Charlie Brown be made today, the same as it was in 1964?  What challenges would today's animators face?  Could the internet make a difference as an alternative outlet, away from the conglomerates who own the networks?  I'm really curious to know that, and I'd like to hear what the animation community as to say.

In any case, enjoy Charlie Brown.  This is one of the hallowed holiday traditions, like egg nog and Nat King Cole records and snow days.  Enjoy.