Note: At our most humble, we can freely admit: Despite our blinding insights and a general sense of cinematic omniscience, this blogpost contains absolutely NO spoilers. Nada. Zilch. ... Rats.
Oh, this will be good: The showdown that doubles as a stylistic throwdown.
At tonight's Golden Globe ceremonies, the category of Best Animated Film will pit not only narratives and cinematography, but also technology: Stop-motion vs. "hand-drawn" animation vs. CGI.
The five films nominated for animation are: "Coraline" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox" (both stop-motion); "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" and "Up" (CGI); and Disney's old-school "The Princess and the Frog."
A coupla weeks ago, we handicapped the animated films nominated by the Producers Guild of America. Since four of the five Globe nominees are the same as the PGA noms -- the Globes went with "Meatballs" instead of "9" -- we'll break 'em down again for the Globes. Let's take a closer look:
"CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS":
What "Cloudy's" lead voice actor BILL HADER tells Comic Riffs about his film: The character Flint Lockwood is "unconventional and an outcast, but as [the character] Sam Sparks says in the film: You should own that. That's something I figured out midway around my freshman year in high school. That being that way is cool."
Why it likely won't win: Line for line, "Cloudy" is probably the single funniest film of the five nominees -- and Hader's line delivery is warmly hilarious. But Foreign Press voters are also hungry for two things -- "art" and "arc" -- and "Fox," "Coraline" and "Up" are more boldly able to flaunt either their artiness or story arc, if not both.
What "Coraline" writer NEIL GAIMAN tells Comic Riffs about his film:
"I loved that everything was handmade. Everything. It was so personal.
What I [also] loved about 'Coraline' and [director] Henry Selick is that Henry used the 3-D in Coraline as a storytelling tool. I also hope that people won't try and make everything in 3-D."
Why it could win: Neil Gaiman just got engaged to be wed and -- well -- it just might be his month. Well, that and the fact his film is a stop-motion kaleidoscope of dazzling color and movement and composition.
Why it won't win: There's a subterranean "Fox" that could sneak off with the Globe, as well as an airborne "Up" that looms as the high-flyin' favorite.
"FANTASTIC MR. FOX":
What "Fox" filmmaker WES ANDERSON tells Comic Riffs about his film:
" I grew up on the Rankin-Bass animated specials. I'm 40, and I cannot express how revved-up my brother and I were when the holiday specials [came around]. ... For me, there's nothing quite like actual, old-fashioned stop-motion. Which is why we were using digital cameras -- there wasn't even a movie camera [on set]. It all goes into the hard drive -- our [technology] was about as high-tech as you get outside of NASA."
Why it could win: (a) George Clooney's voicework; (b) warm old-timey charm; (c) Meryl Streep's voicework; (d) wry wit and precious sets; (e) the Oscar-winning pedigree of George Clooney and Meryl Streep's voicework.
Why it might not win: "And the award goes to...Pixar" is (deservedly) heard so often in Hollywood, one could imagine the geniuses at Pixar's Emeryville studios having built an entire army of utterly charming robot-voters. The microchip that spews that phrase never wears out. Neither, it seems, does Pixar's invention and soul.
"THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG":
What "Frog" filmmaker RON CLEMENTS [with co-director/writer JOHN MUSKER] tells Comic Riffs about their film: "Depicting Disney's first African American princess? Why, we felt no pressure -- no, NONE at all."
Why it won't win: The last hand-drawn Disney feature that deserved a Globe was 1994's "The Lion King" (which took home for the gold for Best Motion Picture -- Comedy/Musical).
What "Up" co-director BOB PETERSON tells Comic Riffs about his film:
"You tell the truth of how people would react. ... We're always concerned about the relationships -- are we telling the truth? Jokes are one thing, but we sacrifice thousands of jokes if they get in the way of the emotional narrative."
Why it will win: By knowing when to shut the heck up. "Up's" near-wordless sequence of a lifelong romance told in montage (and sweet, sweet music) is a minutes-long masterpiece within a movie. In a competitive race with "Fox" and "Coraline," that sequence seals the deal for "Up."
Bottom line: If anyone traffics in more gold than the Globes's Foreign Press Association, it's Pixar, the Midas of animated motion -- everything it renders by computer seems to turn to gilded hardware.
That is Comic Riffs's pick -- what is yours?
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THE RELATED READ:
The 'Riffs Interview: WES ANDERSON introduces his fantastic 'Mr. Fox'.
NEIL GAIMAN recalls his first impressions of San Diego Comic-Con.
The 'Riffs Interview: Pixar's BOB PETERSON on his path to co-directing "Up."
The 'Riffs Interview: "SNL's" BILL HADER embraces his inner nerd to voice "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs."