9 items from 2017
When the Oscar nominations were announced on Jan. 24, some may have been surprised to find “Kubo and the Two Strings” among the visual-effects nominees. But it wasn’t a shock to those who had carefully looked at the work Oregon-based Laika had done for its latest release.
Long known as a technological and artistic pioneer for its combination of traditional stop motion and puppeteering with CG, the studio was already home to a team that pushed boundaries with such previous stop-motion releases as “Coraline.”
One member of the staff, Brian McLean, was also recognized with a Sci-Tech Award by the Academy just last year for his work in rapid prototyping.
The last time an animated film was nominated in the vfx category was 1993’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
Since then, the rise of Laika has advanced stop motion in all kinds of ways.
“When we started work on ‘Kubo’ we »
- Karen Idelson
At multiple points throughout “Kubo and the Two Strings,” the title character instructs his audience to “pay careful attention.” Luckily, the team behind one of 2016’s most striking animated films makes focus incredibly easy.
Animation directors often see their visions smoothed out to pacify audiences, but “Kubo and the Two Strings” just doesn’t look like anything else. Even as the film navigates some familiar animated tropes (talking animals, fraught parental relationships, talk of destiny), it unfurls its mythology with great economy and impressive scale.
The man at the helm is Travis Knight, president and CEO of animation house Laika since 2009. After serving as a lead animator on the studio’s three previous features (“Coraline,” “ParaNorman,” and “The Boxtrolls”), “Kubo and the Two Strings” is Knight’s first stint in the director’s chair, shepherding this original tale of a young boy who must brave a treacherous voyage to assemble »
- Steve Greene
Thanks to Neil for answering so many of your questions. He’s signing off:
263 Questions, and I managed as many as I could in the time we had, and stole more time from the next thing. They are now about to pry the computer from my fingers and send me back on the road.
Thank you to everyone who asked the questions. They were all so good. Thanks to the Guardian for hosting this.
John O’Donnell asks:
Do you believe that good can triumph over evil? Situation being what it is.
I don't think of good and evil as being distinct free-floating things. I think there are people, doing what people do, sometimes selfishly, sometimes short-sightedly, sometimes even monstrously. (For me, one »
- Guardian Staff
This year’s animated feature Oscar race is considered a foregone conclusion for many. Disney’s “Zootopia,” a March 2016 release that speaks to the modern climate with socio-political, zeitgeisty elements — indeed, one of the year’s best films, full stop — is far and away the frontrunner. And with over $1 billion in global box office receipts, it’s hard not to call it the biggest pop-cultural phenomenon in the category as well.
But the Academy can’t seem to shake this instinct to spring for the hottest ticket when it comes to animated features. Due respect to “Zootopia’s” considerable merits, but brand recognition and ubiquity play a heavy hand when films like this, “Big Hero 6” and “Brave,” to name a few recent examples, walk away with the gold.
Meanwhile, the best of the nominees might arguably be Laika’s “Kubo and the Two Strings,” a meticulously crafted fable straight »
- Kristopher Tapley
Brendon Connelly Jan 18, 2017
Travis Knight is both the head of Laika, the Portland, Oregon studio at the vanguard of stop-motion animation, and the director of their latest film, Kubo And The Two Strings. By all obvious signs, he's very good at both of his jobs.
I spoke to Knight on the occasion of Kubo getting its DVD, Blu-ray and download release, and given that Den of Geek had already spoken to him about this film specifically, I thought we would chat about Laika in general. Knight gave me a history, took questions about the future, and addressed some of the fine points of how animation gets done the Laika way. Here's how our conversation went.
Can we start by going back, way back? I'd love a potted history, starting at the »
A young boy with a magical gift sets out on a thrilling quest to discover his family’s legacy in Laika’s newest film, Kubo and the Two Strings. The latest masterpiece from the animation studio behind the Academy Award®-nominated films Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls is out now on Digital, Blu-ray™ and DVD from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The Ultimate Laika Collection box-set will be released on the same date.
To celebrate, we are giving away an official poster signed by director Travis Knight and Blu-ray, with two runner up Blu-ray prizes.
Hailed as “an exquisite, beautiful film,” (Scott Mantz, Access Hollywood) Kubo and the Two Strings has captivated audiences of all ages, earning an extraordinary 97% “Certified Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, making it one of the best-reviewed films of the year!
From acclaimed animation studio Laika comes an all-new epic adventure starring the voice talents of Academy »
- Paul Heath
La La Land was named best film and also won best lead actress for Emma Stone, while Manchester By The Sea earned Kenneth Lonergan best screenwriter honours as Casey Affleck took the best lead actor prize.
Laika Entertainment has licensed Japanese rights for Kubo And The Two Strings to Gaga Corporation. Gaga previously released Coraline and will set an exact date as the year progresses. “Kubo And The Two Strings is a wholehearted love letter to Japan,” said Laika chief and Kubo director Travis Knight, adding that making the film was “the highlight of my professional life.” »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeremy Kay)
The maxim that good scripts are essential to making good movies is especially true in animation. In this medium, scripts and storyboards provide blueprints for completely invented worlds, and dialogue is recorded before the animation is done.
There’s been an Oscar category for animated feature for just 15 years; and toon screenplay nominations are relatively recent. Prior to that, animated movies typically were likelier to be recognized for song. Thus far, writer-director Andrew Stanton tops the list of Oscar-nominated animation screenwriters with four to his name (including “Toy Story,” “Wall-e,” “Finding Nemo,” and “Toy Story 3”), and he could compete again this year with the Disney/Pixar billion-dollar winner “Finding Dory.”
There’s another billion-dollar baby attracting awards buzz this season, too. Disney’s computer-animated “Zootopia” nabbed 11 Annie Award nominations (including writing) and a Golden Globe nod for animated film. It’s also the only animated feature among AFI’s 2016 honorees. »
- Ellen Wolff
Chicago – It’s that time of the film year, the “Ten Best” lists. In representing my 2016 picks – as “Patrick McDonald” – I looked for the emotional experience as much as anything. I think every filmgoer, from the most casual to the ardent buff, adhere to their favorites through that feeling of connection.
There are honorable mentions all over the place, often just missing the 10th spot – I like to characterize them as all tied for eleventh. My favorite superhero film was “Captain America: Civil War,” for the Marvel Comics angst that works best in this genre of movies. The dramas “Arrival,” “Elle,” “Little Men” and “A Monster Calls” were excellent and heartfelt experiences. I loved the wacky tribute that writer/directors Joel and Ethan Coen gave to 1950s Hollywood in “Hail, Caesar!” And after watching it again after initial reservations, I realized and connected to the ardent celebration in the musical “La La Land. »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
9 items from 2017
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