Wednesday, February 26, 2014

86th Academy Awards Analysis and Predictions: Best Animated Feature, Best Song, & Best Visual Effects

Andrew: Hello readers! We're back with Day Two of our Oscar analysis and predictions leading up to this Sunday's 86th Academy Awards. Yesterday we got off to a good and popular start with our breakdown of the Supporting Actor and Actress categories (click HERE to view those), and today we're going to switch from acting and take a look at the categories for Best Animated Feature, Best Original Song and Best Visual Effects. 

Let's kick it off with the animated films, shall we?

Best Animated Feature

The nominees for Best Animated Feature are:

The Croods (DreamWorks Animation)
Despicable Me 2 (Illumination Entertainment/Universal Pictures)
Ernest & Celestine (La Parti Productions)
Frozen (Walt Disney Animation)
The Wind Rises (Studio Ghibli)

Alright Sarah, you've seen three of these nominees compared my only having seen two of them. I'll let you take the reins here.

Sarah: I have to say it wasn't a terrible year for animated movies! The Croods was actually pretty cute and stunningly beautiful with it's animation. Despicable Me 2 was a solid sequel to our much beloved Despicable Me with it's lovable minions and adorable little family. Then there's Frozen with it's classic Disney look and feel. 

Those are the only three that I have seen but I think there is a clear winner in this race. Frozen was the best animated movie of the year if not one of the best movie overall of the year! The music, the animation and the characters were beautifully created and the 3D was stunning. Idena Menzel was a revelation as Elsa and Kristen Bell was a wonderful addition to the Disney Princess family as Anna. I think Frozen will be the hands-down winner.

Now, there was another Disney movie that was very prominently left off this list. Monsters University was a much anticipated sequel this year and it didn't make the cut. I was shocked about this! Am I the only one?

A: Not having seen The Croods myself I'd have to say I am a little surprised it got the nod over Monsters University, but then again Monster University wasn't great, it was just good; a serviceable prequel to a better movie. Normally I might say that was a blow to Disney/Pixar but they did win this award last year for Brave. But I digress...

While I can't speak for The Wind Rises (whose name I read in the voice of Bane from The Dark Knight Rises every time I read it) and Ernest and Celestine, I do think Frozen is the clear winner here. It's just a powerhouse movie with a great voice cast, it's funny, it hit all the audience quadrants plus it has a great message about being yourself and letting your freak flag fly (so to speak). If any of the others wins it'll be a shock. 

Who We Think Should Win: Sarah - Frozen   Andrew - Frozen
Who We Think Will Win: Sarah - Frozen   Andrew - Frozen

Best Original Song

The nominees for Best Original Song are:

- "Happy" by Pharell Williams, from Despicable Me 2
- "Let It Go" by Kristen-Anderson Lopez & Robert Lopez, from Frozen
- "The Moon Song" by Karen O. & Spike Jonze, from Her
- "Ordinary Love" by U2, from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Okay Sarah, methinks this one is another no-brainer, yes?

S: Oh yeah. "Let It Go" will win, no doubt. There's not even a contest. Idena Menzel has the most amazing voice and it is highlighted perfectly in this movie. Really kinda solidifies the fact that she is the queen. But what's interesting is that they have been marketing "Happy" on the Top 40 radio stations. At first I thought this was a genius move…then they started adding it to every other commercial and playing it every 2 songs on the radio. It was a catchy song, now it's just annoying.

A: I had to look it up but apparently "Happy" was released as a single back in November, so I definitely think the rise in airplay and its use in commercials has a lot to do with its Oscar nomination. And I think that had the dual-purpose of bringing it to the public and voters' consciousness as well as getting the track sold on iTunes and what-have-you.

But it's all going to be for naught, because "Let It Go" is the clear choice. It's a new Disney classic that literally everyone loves, and it's certainly going to be a karaoke staple for years to come. But the thing that makes it so worthy IS Idena Menzel's vocals. She's such a powerful singer that when you couple her vocals with the great arrangement, I get chills every time I hear it. I know U2 won the Golden Globe for their song but I bet not too many Oscar voters actually saw Mandela: Walk to Freedom so I don't think it has a chance.

Who We Think Should Win: Sarah - "Let It Go"   Andrew - "Let It Go"
Who We Think Will Win: Sarah - "Let It Go"   Andrew - "Let It Go"

Best Score

The nominees for Best Score are:

The Book Thief, John Williams
Gravity, Steven Price
Her, William Butler & Oliver Pallett
Philomena, Alexadre Desplat
Saving Mr. Banks, Thomas Newman

Ok Sarah, I think this is actually one of the more interesting categories in the entire show this year. Some big names here including the man who holds the 2nd the most Oscar nominations ever (Williams with 49, astoundingly still 10 nominations behind Walt Disney for most all-time) plus a couple of composers who have multiple nominations but have yet to win the big one in Desplat and Newman, who were nominated for Argo and Skyfall last year, respectively. We've only been able to see two of these nominees so far, so this is also going to be a tough category for us to predict, won't it?

S: Yeah, this one is going to be tough but I have to say out of the two that we've seen, I think that Gravity has the edge. The whole movie was pretty intense and since there was only one character, the music was really a co-star. When you have the music playing such an important role, I think it has to be the winner. While John Williams is an Academy institution, I think that he will get passed over this time.

A: I'm in agreement with you here. Price's score starts off very low-key because a lot of the movie uses negative sound to mirror the soundlessness of outer space. But as the movie progresses the score just builds and builds and is quite epic when all is said and done. It's a HUGE part of the movie and helps the emotion you feel as you follow Sandra Bullock's character.

My opinion is that John Williams probably did a fine job but just got a courtesy nomination here. Newman's score for Saving Mr. Banks wasn't bad but it's not nearly as good as his Oscar-nominated score for Skyfall last year. I've heard good things about the scores for Her and Philomena, but Gravity's is just so powerful that I can't help but think it wins, as it should.

Who We Think Should Win: Sarah - Gravity   Andrew - Gravity
Who We Think Will Win: Sarah - Gravity   Andrew - Gravity

Best Visual Effects

The nominees for Best Visual Effects are:

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
- The Lone Ranger
- Star Trek Into Darkness

At a glance this seems like it should be a toss-up of a category. All five of these films are soundly categorized as Special Effects Heavy and they're all pretty impressive. What are your thoughts on this category, Sarah? 

S: Man, I gotta go with Gravity again! All of these movies had some great visual effects but I really think that Gravity's filmmakers were able to capture the beauty and hostility of one environment. I think also because the entire environment was computer generated and it didn't look like it at all it just really deserves to win. It was terrifying and it was space! It was crazy how they made something so silent it's own character. Yeah. I'm sticking by my choice.

A: A: I could easily just say, "What she said." Because you're spot on. If Gravity wasn't around this year this would be a VERY competitive field because of some excellent VFX like Smaug the dragon in The Hobbit or the action scenes from Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness. But this is no contest. You nailed it on the head in that Alfonso Cuaron and his crew were able to create such a lifelike recreation of an environment that most people on Earth have never and WILL never experience first-hand. When we saw this film is 3D it felt like we were right there with Bullock and Clooney yet it felt enormously vast - and it was all pretty much CGI. No contest.

Who We Think Should Win: Sarah - Gravity   Andrew - Gravity
Who We Think Will Win: Sarah - Gravity   Andrew - Gravity

Okay readers! That's all for this edition of our Oscar predictions! Tomorrow we'll jump back to the acting categories by tackling Best Lead Actor and Best Lead Actress. Also, we forgot to mention yesterday that we WILL be doing our annual Oscars Live Blog this Sunday during the telecast! We'd love for any and all of you to swing by Two Tickets For... on Sunday night during the Academy Awards show and chat about the winners, losers and everything else! 

S: For reference again we've listed our schedule for this week's predictions. As always, thanks for reading!

Thursday: Best Lead Actor & Actress
Friday: Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Director
Saturday: Best Picture and full predictions
Sunday: Oscars Live Blog

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