Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pondering Inside Out...


No, I haven't seen this yet.  I won't be seeing it until sometime next week, unfortunately, but that doesn't mean we can't talk about this, since everyone else is.  So, what exactly are we pondering?  Now, this may seem way far fetched, but there have been rumblings for months now that this was Pixar GOLD and by gold, we mean Oscar gold, and so maybe this is something you'd already semi-considered; but today we're pondering whether Inside Out could actually make a dash for Oscar's big prize; Best Picture.

Yes, this is a serious post.


Now, I know that the odds are stacked against a film like this from the very start.  It's animated film, and those have never won the big prize.  In fact, only one animated film has ever even been nominated for Best Picture in a field of five (Beauty and the Beast) and since it only two others have been nominated in extended fields (Up & Toy Story 3).  Even Frozen, despite the raves and clear populous vote (like, when has a film ever been so popular?) could not sneak into a field of potentially ten.  Still, one has to wonder if there will come a day when an animated film could actually contend for the Best Picture Oscar, and if that were the case, what kind of film would that be?

Could this be that film?


Well, we kind of touched on this already, but the odds aren't great.  In fact, just a brief look at recent Oscar history will further point us in the direction of 'not going to happen'.  Other beloved animated films, like Toy Story 2 (Golden Globe WINNER for Best Comedy), Shrek (Globe/BFCA/BAFTA nominee and single handedly responsible for the creation of the Animated Film Oscar category) and The Incredibles (Globe and PGA nominee) were all snubbed Oscar nominations for Best Picture, and then there's Wall*E, which was praised as a masterpiece and even was so lucky as to be released in a year that was, statistically, pretty weak (and won important Critic's Awards like LAFCA) was also snubbed in favor of typical Oscar bait.


Well, couple thoughts.  First, while it may not always happen, we know that there are occasional exceptions to the norm.  Look at Katheryn Bigelow.  She was the first ever woman to win a directing Oscar.  She may go down in history as the only (I have a feeling there will be another, and possibly even this year), but she broke a decades (near century) 'norm' of sole male winning directors, and in a year where there was legit competition.  I firmly believe that one day, we will have an animated film win Best Picture at the Oscars.  I'm not sold on it being this year, but there are certain factors that have me optimistic.  

First, there really doesn't seem to be any clear frontrunner or even select group of ponies in this race yet, and by this time in the year, after the festivals have played their cards and tooted their horns (yes, we are still waiting on a few later festivals, so this post is EXTREMELY presumptuous, and I know that), there is at least one film (usually a few) with their eyes on the prize.  Silence is the only film that, to me, feels like it could be a winner and we're not even sure that is going to see a 2015 release date.  Films like Carol and Sicario and Youth have the reviews and the pockets of passion that could very well secure them nominations, but none feel like winners, and while we have yet to see reactions from The Danish Girl or Bridge of Spies or Joy, I'm struggling to place them as Best Picture winners.

Suffragette, at the moment, is my hedged bet for an actual Oscar victory in this category, of the live action films.

So, a presumably weak (and I say presumably because, at this point, what do I know) year is the beginning of a perfect scenario for an animated film to win top honors, but there's something more than that.


Yes, it really does all come down to the reviews.  Even in a weak year, without the reviews to back it up, an animated film wouldn't even come close to a shot at the title.

So, what are people saying?

At once sophisticated and simple, made with visual magic and emotional sensitivity, casually probing deeper questions about what matters in life, "Inside Out" typifies the best of that cartoon colossus. It goes not only to places other animation houses don't dare, but also to places the rest of the pack doesn't even know exist. ~ LA Times
A little over five years ago, Pixar writer-director Pete Docter tried to imagine how the world looked through the eyes of his sad 11-year-old daughter, and the movie he was moved to conceive, Inside Out, will likely help sad girls and boys and the grown-ups they become for as long as there are movies. Set largely inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley, this teeming, tear-duct-draining, exhaustingly inventive, surreal animated comedy is going to be a new pop-culture touchstone. In all kinds of ways it’s a mind-opener. ~ Vulture
...this isn’t a story simply for the children to enjoy in their own way and adults to enjoy separately — it is a film meant to be shared by parents with their children, to bridge a gap between adolescents and adults, more than any animated film I’ve ever seen. ~ Forbes
The achievement of Inside "Inside Out" is at once subtler and more impressive.  This is a movie almost entirely populated by abstract concepts moving through theoretical space.  This world is both radically new - you've never seen anything like it - and instantly recognizable, as familiar aspects of consciousness are given shape and voice.  Remember your imaginary childhood friend?  Your earliest phobias?  Your strangest dreams?  You will, and you will also have a newly inspired understanding of how and why you remember those things.  You will look at the screen and know yourself. ~ NY Times
That makes it perhaps the craziest movie Pixar has ever come up with. Imagine Fellini using animation to create a narrative starring the limbic system, with diversions to the subconscious (“where they take all the troublemakers”), treacherous trips into abstract thinking and rides on the highly erratically scheduled train of thought. From a story hatched by co-directors Peter Docter (Up, Monsters, Inc.) and Ronaldo del Carmen, Inside Out is nearly hallucinogenic, entirely beautiful and easily the animation studio’s best release since 2010’s Toy Story 3. Stylistically Inside Out is nothing like Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, but for its scope in examining the maturation process, it might well be called Childhood. ~ Time Magazine
Pixar's 15th feature is another landmark, an unmissable film triumph that raises the bar on what animation can do and proves that live action doesn't have dibs on cinematic art. ~ Rolling Stone

Entertainment Weekly wrote a rave review as well, but they used the word 'tween' so I've boycotted it. 

Anyways, you get the point.  This is just a smackling of the reviews that are pouring is, but for me it was the latter quote from Rolling Stone that says it all.  Live action films do not have dibs on cinematic art, and Inside Out is proving that.

Right now, Inside Out has a 93 Metacritic score, with 34 positive reviews and 3 100's (Entertainment Weekly, Vulture and Washington Post) and it has 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, with 111 fresh reviews and then this dick.


You can say that this is all nice and cute, but statistics don't lie, and you'd kind of be right.  I mean, statistics are statistics because they rarely change and, ultimately, shape an eventuality, but in recent years, especially with regards to Oscar, we've seen the norm challenged by oddities no one would have predicted.  Look at the everything from Best Picture to Director to Supporting Actor for 2012 alone.  That was a giant cluster of 'that shouldn't be happening' and yet it did.

I'm not saying Inside Out is going to win Best Picture, but if and when an animated film does win Best Picture, I have a feeling that it's going to look a lot like this.  A film that critics are applauding as bridging that gap between childhood and adulthood, a film that is exploring what it means to be human, a film that, as the New York Times states, demolishes the assumption that movies cannot think, that they cannot "take us past the external signs of consciousness".  This is a film that reaches people on a personal level, and it is that sentimentality, that ability to pierce into the person that is watching this film and find that common ground, that I feel could set this apart and make this a benchmark for animation, and if that is the case; it could be a real contender.

Oscar loves statement pieces, and that's exactly what (it appears) Inside Out is.

It's chances may be slim, true, but this is one of those rare cases where it seems like there's actually is a chance, and so because of that, maybe we should be pondering...

34 comments:

  1. I'll be a total dick, sorry.
    No, I don't think so. The characters were a bit boring. In my opinion, Pixar didn't make something great since Wall-E. Up was very good, the first 10 minutes great but the rest alright. Toy Story 3 is just a carbon copy of Toy Story 2, Cars 2 is a big piece of shit, Brave is mediocre, Monsters University is alright and relies too much on nostalgia...simply Pixar LOST IT. They aren't original, they are just a money grab. And what they'll do it the future is a proof. They'll make Finding Dory, Toy Story 4, The Incredibles 2 and f--king Cars 3. Now, on Toy Story 3, watch this to see why I consider it meh (https://youtu.be/dXC_205E3Og?t=1m25s).

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    1. LOL, so you've seen this? I mean, as you can quite clearly see, you're one of, like, three people who feel the way you do, if you have seen this (which I'm not sure was clear from your comment).

      Either way, you're not a dick for expressing your opinion.

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    2. Ah, ok. Like I said, I can't judge based on my own opinion here, since I won't be seeing it for a few more days, but judging from the critical reception so far...it seems to be widely adored.

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  2. You've sold me on this one. I love the concept of the story, and the trailer (and early reviews) look extremely promising.

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    1. Yeah...I'm almost afraid of the hype, it's so huge.

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  3. I could see it getting nominated, but it won't win. Too many topical dramas coming out this year, as well as big name directors.

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    1. I had a feeling that general response to this post would be a resounding "no, it won't", and like I said, even I know that realistically this isn't going to happen...but with these reviews and this storyline...I prefer to appear optimistic.

      I'm channeling my inner Joy, obviously!

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  4. I don't know about Oscars, but I'm making room in my calendar to see it - the sooner the better!
    Great pondering though.

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    1. Yeah, I'm anxiously awaiting seeing this.

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  5. If I ever find the guy who dissed Inside Out (though I too haven't seen it yet), I will kick him in the nuts!

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    1. Yeah, that review was just the worst. I have no qualms with someone not liking something, but when you open your review by basically telling everyone that reviewing a 'children's movie' is beneath you...AS A FILM CRITIC...and then proceed to make fun of the prose, which, to any parent is a VERY BIG DEAL...you come off like a complete and total asshole.

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    2. Um, in the art of criticism. You just can't do that. That's Ben Lyons territory of bad criticism.

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  6. You know what would make this year the best year ever? If Inside Out wins Best Picture, Leo wins best actor, and Roger Deakins wins Cinematography.

    I'm gonna say that ONE of those will actually happen, but hey! We can dream!

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    1. That would make for an iconic night!

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  7. This animated film looks like it will be fun but I doubt it will be up for Best Picture. It reminds me of a TV Show I used to love to watch called "Herman' Head". It starred the man (boy) who was in the original "Fright Night" and one of his side kicks was Hank Azaria. You should check it out. For a TV show I used to like it but I haven't seen it since it left the air waves.

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    1. Oh, it'll be up for Best Picture, for sure. With these reviews, this narrative and the expanded field, it WILL be nominated for Best Picture. The question is, does it have a chance to win. I think it does. Not a very big one, but a chance none-the-less.

      I think too many people are looking at the trailers and judging the film based on that, but read the reviews...the trailers are misleading...this is a film about children and their psyche and their emotions and how they process things...and it's more aimed at parents than the children themselves. This is (allegedly) a very deep movie.

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  8. Woah woah woah! What about The Revenant? Academy loves westerns. I don't watch animated films so I know very little about it, but I don't think it has as much chance - animated movie winning BP that is - as female winning a director. Equality is a big deal, the issue rised a lot, along with that stupid 'no black actors were nominated so Academy is racist!' argument. Animation is just not a big social issue to play a part here

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    1. Well, I wouldn't say that Oscar loves Westerns, as the only ones that have won are Cimarron (back in 1931), Dances with Wolves and Unforgiven...and No Country for Old Men, if you consider that a Western. That's four Western Best Pictures...and there have only been about 15 actually nominated for Best Picture, and most of those happened in the 50's.

      I think the biggest knock against The Revenant is that Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu just won the Oscar last year. Only two directors have ever won back to back Oscars, John Ford and Joseph Mankiewicz, and that was back in the 50's as well. I kind of doubt that The Revenant, which is said to be pretty brutal and violent, is going to come in and win after Birdman just swooped in for the kill last year.

      It could happen, if it's raved, but I doubt it.

      But you are right in that Inside Out winning, considering that it is an animated film...is pretty much not going to happen. The social issue point you raise is an interesting one, and is a big reason why I've been so bullish on Suffragette winning this year (in the case that Silence doesn't come out until 2016). Women's rights are a big hot topic issue right now, and so it feels like the perfect time to embrace the struggle...but we'll see how the critics respond first.

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  9. I'm not sure about it's Oscar chances yet. I think I'll probably end up seeing this sometime next week since my kid keeps bothering me every time a commercial for it comes on. I'm kind of weird about animated films being in the Best Picture race, mostly because the ones that end up there are taking a spot from a better film (minus Beauty and the Beast because that deserved it)

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    1. Gurl...don't get all Academy on us!

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  10. I'm gonna see this tomorrow and I'm trying to avoid reading reviews (so I skipped the quotes you posted here), but I kind of think that if an animated feature merits the Big Prize, it SHOULD definitely be considered under that category. As for the chance of it being included, I honestly have no idea. I leave that to the award experts such as yourself Drew! :D

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    1. I'm right there with you, Ruth. If it deserves to be there, if it merits the Big Prize, then it should not stay relegated to it's predisposed category. Best Picture is a term that encompasses all film. It isn't labeled 'Best Live Action Feature Film'...it's Best Picture, which could be a doc, an animated film, a foreign film, hell, even a short film! If it's the best, then it's the BEST, period.

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  11. I caught Inside Out yesterday and I not only think it deserves the Animated Feature nomination it'll likely get, but I think it deserves serious contention for Best Picture. While it is a visual feast for the eyes of the imagination and should please children, it also had deep storytelling about the struggles of growing up. It honestly made me cry a few times.

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    1. I'm so excited for this. Hoping to see it tonight!

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  12. Wow, I am hearing nothing but amazing reviews about this movie that I had decided not to see based on the silly trailer, but I guess I need to change my mind. Outstanding review, Andrew.

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    1. Yeah, I just saw it last night...and it's perfect. I'm going to try and review it sooner than later, but for now...just know it's perfect!

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  13. I don't think it's Pixar's best and I think the Oscar is safely in someone else's hands....but whose????

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    1. Oh, I thought it was Pixar's most mature work, for sure. I still don't know if I'd place it over Nemo...but I thought it was brilliant.

      Sadly, I don't think this'll win either...but I certainly think this could be Top 5 nominee.

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  14. Um, yeah, I saw this movie just now. Left the theater an hour ago. It is perfect. So much fun, so charming, so clever, so touching. I laughed, I ugly face cried (sometimes within seconds of each other). I told my wife when we were walking to the car, "Movies don't get that perfect." I'm standing by that. Best Movie of 2015 so far. And I've seen Ex Machina and Mad Max. Don't know about Best Picture. But it should and probably will be up there.

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    1. DUDE!!! I literally got up and stood by the exit doors with my 2 year old so I could ugly face cry without my wife judging me.

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  15. Having seen the film, I think drawing a Boyhood comparison - in terms of its Oscar trajectory - is fair. Inside Out will do very well, but I think it'll be lucky to be nominated for Best Picture. Like, is Pete Docter really getting a DGA nom for this? I doubt it, but it would be deserved if it actually happens.

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    1. This is, honestly, what Boyhood should have been :-P

      I could see this winning two, maybe even three Oscars though, even if it loses BP. Animated Film is in the bag, and Screenplay could be very likely if they play their cards right...and then there are the sound categories or even score. They have already awarded Giancchino once, and the score is one that moves the film along so beautifully.

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