10 items from 2017
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
John Cho and Leslie Mann will host the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Scientific and Technical Awards on Feb. 11 at the Beverly Wilshire. Together, they will present 18 awards to 34 individuals and five organizations.
“We’re so excited to have John and Leslie join us as hosts for this year’s Scientific and Technical Awards,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “It’s one of our favorite and most talked about events each Oscar season, and John and Leslie’s humor and refreshing take on the honorees will be a perfect addition to a night where we celebrate our colleagues’ groundbreaking scientific and technical achievements.”
Mann recently starred in “How to Be Single” and can currently be seen in Taylor Hackford’s “The Comedian” alongside Robert De Niro. Her other credits include “The Other Woman,” “This Is 40,” and “Knocked Up,” as well as the animated features “Rio 2” and the Oscar-nominated “ParaNorman. »
- Dani Levy
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
Even when you live in Los Angeles, as I do, if you’re not in the network of critics groups and press screening and screener DVDs it can be a challenge to keep up with everything you tell yourself you have to see before attempting an informed roundup of the year currently in the rearview mirror. And I also try to not let more than a couple of weeks of the new year go by before checking in, regardless of how many of the year’s big presents I have left to unwrap, though in past years I have not lived well by this dictum—let’s just say that if I’m still posting stuff on the year’s best after even Oscar has thoroughly chewed over the goods, as has happened in the past, well, I’ve overstayed my welcome.
2016 was, in most ways, a disaster of a year, »
- Dennis Cozzalio
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
While the Sundance Film Festival doesn’t kick off until January 19th, A24 is already snagging hot films before they even have a chance to premiere. The company behind The Witch, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, Green Room and Ex Machina will distribute A Ghost Story, written and directed by David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon, Peter Pan). Casey Affleck (ParaNorman, The Killer Inside […] »
- Brad Miska
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)
A Ghost Story, written and directed by David Lowery (Pete’s Dragon, Peter Pan), reminds us that a ghost under a sheet is most definitely still scary. Casey Affleck (ParaNorman, The Killer Inside Me) stars in this story of a ghost and the house he haunts. Harking back to John Carpenter’s Halloween, James Wan’s The Conjuring and even Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice, we […] »
- Brad Miska
10 items from 2017
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