Roger Ebert has been compiling a series of the best films of the year, one studio list, one independent, one docuementary, and now, one animated.
The Fantastic Mr. Fox. In an age of limitless computer-generated images, the next of the year’s best animated features also uses the stop-action method that reaches back to “King Kong and before. Wes Anderson’s landscapes and structures are picture-booky. Yet the extraordinary faces of his animals are almost disturbingly human (for animals, of course), and you feel as if Mr. Fox’s fur is strokeable. The film tells a fable about a reformed chicken thief leading a war with the farmers. Read my review.
Fantastic Mr. Fox ranks among some of the more obscure animated films of the year like Sita Sings The Blues and eight more. It’s an interesting list and worth checking out.
Over at Salon, Matt Zoller Seitz (freelance critic, and author of one the earliest and best profiles of Wes, and this incredible series of video essays from earlier this year) has been taking a look at some of the most influential directors of the decade in an on-going series of essays. Seitz’s latest examines the work of Robert Zemeckis and Wes Anderson.
That’s where Wes Anderson comes in. The director of “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001), “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou” (2004), “The Darjeeling Limited” (2007) and this year’s Roald Dahl adaptation “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is as much a train-set filmmaker as Zemeckis, Jackson and Lucas, and like Fincher, Paul Thomas Anderson (“Punch-Drunk Love,” “There Will Be Blood”), Zemeckis and Spielberg, he’s one of the few prominent Hollywood filmmakers working in the ’70s auteur tradition — and doing it with a style so distinct that it can never be stolen, only imitated. He’s notorious for fretting over every aspect of his movies, from the texture of the clothes to the precise geometric motion of each shot and camera movement to the choice of on-screen font (he prefers variations of Futura). Detractors describe his style as fussy, overcomplicated, even airless — and if one prefers a messier, more spontaneous kind of filmmaking, or a more “invisible” style of direction, Anderson is almost certainly the opposite of fun.
I won’t mount a defense of Anderson as an exciting, imaginative and important filmmaker in this article, because I’ve already done it in a series of video essays.I mention him in this piece because of two particular aspects of his art. One is his commitment to analog moviemaking. He shoots on film and prefers to do everything, special effects included, on the set rather than create them after the fact. Even when he employs digital effects or processes, he calls attention to their artificiality; think of the obviously stop-motion sea creatures in “Aquatic” — or, for that matter, the unruly, roiling fur on the creatures in “Fantastic Mr. Fox” — which the director insisted be fabricated with hard-to-manage animal hair rather than more controllable synthetic hair, because he just liked how it looked.
Be sure to read the full piece at Salon, and leave your comments below. It’s a great essay, and well worth the read.
3.Fantastic Mr. Fox
Wes Anderson’s lovingly hand-crafted, stop-motion adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox radiates pure joy. Taking its cues from George Clooney’s charming vocal performance as a dashing rogue of a fox who goes to war with a trio of nasty farmers after they destroy his family’s home and rob him of his tail, the film revels in language, music, dance, friendship, and family. It’s a film of dazzling verbosity and meticulous perfectionism, filled with loveable characters and quotable dialogue. Balancing its director’s trademark melancholy with irrepressible optimism, Anderson’s best film since The Royal Tenanbaums is nothing short of life-affirming.
This has been added to our on-going Top-Ten post. If you spot a top-ten list with Fantastic Mr. Fox in it, let us know.
In addition to the Golden Globe nomination, yesterday Fantastic Mr. Fox picked up two screenwriting awards from west coast critics associations. Wes and Noah won the Best Adapted Screenplay for the film and it was also named the runner-up for Best Animated Film from the San Diego Film Critics Society. Similarly, The San Francisco Film Critics Circle awarded Fantastic Mr. Fox their prize for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Update: Also recieved another Best Animated Film, this one from the Toronto Film Critics Association, a nomination in the same category from the Chicago Film Critics, and another Best Animated Film and Best Screenplay win from the Utah Film Critics Association. In addition, Best Family Film and Best Animated Film from the Las Vegas Film Critics Society and the latter from The Sattelite Awards.
Another from AwardsDaily, this one naming possibly every person involved in the making of the film. I can’t say I’ve ever seen For Your Consideration ads that so fully celebrate the collaboration of everyone involved. Kinda cool. Click on the thumbnail below to view the ad full size.
This one appeared in the December 13th edition of Variety, and given this morning’s news, expect quite a few more before February.
It’s another good day for Wes and co., as Fantastic Mr. Fox continues to pick up critics awards. Announced this morning, Fantastic Mr. Fox won Best Animated Film, and was the first runner-up in both the Best Director and Best Film of the Year categories, with Wes as Director coming in second to Spike Jonze for Where the Wild Things Are, and Fantastic Mr. Fox coming in right behind Up in the Air for Best Film. Nice picks, Indiana. Full results here.
Also announced, Fantastic Mr. Fox won the Best Animated Film award from the New York Film Critics Circle. Full results here.
For those keeping up, the Golden Globes nominations will be announced tomorrow, and given that those are chosen by critics and press, it looks like the film might just have a shot.
With the year wrapping up, many critics are making top ten lists and not surprisingly, Fantastic Mr. Fox is on a lot of them. The following is a listing of the films place on a number of lists, with the number and summary review included when available. Full list after the break.
We will continue to add listings as they appear.
David Denby, New Yorker
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”: The look of it is enchanting—intentionally creaky stop-motion with puppets posed against a crafts-fair mock-up of downtown Bath, England. A combined caper movie and art-history triumph.
Richard Corliss, Time
3. Fantastic Mr. Fox
Stop-motion animation is exacting, exhausting work: building puppets, placing them on a miniature stage and moving them one frame at a time — tens of thousands of times. Harder still is bringing insouciant life to this arduous process. That’s what director Wes Anderson and animation director Mark Gustafson managed in this delightful version of the Roald Dahl children’s classic about a dapper, larcenous fox (voiced by George Clooney) who aims to pull off one last, impossible heist. The vibe of Fox’s family is as comically tense as it is in families from earlier films by Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums) and co-writer Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale), but the brood soon bonds to reveal its foxiness and humanity. To this puckish, handsomely rendered comedy, add the meritorious work on Coraline, A Town Called Panic and the Wallace and Gromit short A Matter of Loaf and Death, and you had a banner year for stop-motion.
Several critics groups announced their annual awards yesterday, and Fantastic Mr. Fox was named the Best Animation by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. The rest of the groups seem to have chosen Pixar’s Up, which is not surprising. But a good note that Mr. Fox is definitely in second place, because given the expansion of the Oscars Best Picture category this year, Up may be included in that, which would give Wes’ film a far better shot at wining the Animated film Oscar. Anyway, at this rate, the film seems like a shoo-in for a nomination. We’ll have more awards coverage as groups announce their awards in the following weeks.
A slight variant on the design of the last one, but this one is our favorite, with a numerical breakdown of all the time spent and people inolved in making the movie. It seems like a real tribute to the crew who worked for so long to make the movie. Click on the image below for a larger version and be sure to read the entire quote from Wes.
Again, this came from AwardsDaily and appeared in the December 5th issue of Variety.