We all remember when the nominees for the 2014 Academy Awards were being read off to us and we got to the Animated Film category and…no one heard the name ‘The LEGO Movie’. Actually, you may not remember it. You see, the film was heavily considered the frontrunner to such an extreme that I personally didn’t notice the snub until a few minutes later when I was compiling my list of the nominees and I noticed I didn’t type ‘The LEGO Movie’ down in the list. I did a double take, looked it up, and low and behold, it was indeed snubbed.
I, personally, was pretty upset about it. I was upset because I had seen three of the actual nominees (‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’, ‘The Boxtrolls’ and ‘Big Hero 6’) and while I liked all of them to a certain extent (some more than others), ‘The LEGO Movie was a notch above the rest. I was NOT upset because ‘The Tale of the Princess Kaguya’ and ‘Song of the Sea’ were nominated. I had not seen those films, but I had read the raves, and I have no problem with foreign films sneaking in anywhere, so that was not a problem for me at all. It was the American films I took issue with.
But, a lot of people didn’t look at it that way. Did you happen to read the ‘Brutally Honest Oscar Voters’ comments from that year.
And I quote:
“…for that movie not to be in over these two obscure freakin’ Chinese f***in’ things that nobody ever freakin’ saw, that is my biggest b***.”
Ignorance people, ignorance. I absolutely hate ignorance, but when it comes from your craft then I hate it even more. These are Oscar voters, which means they work or have worked in the industry. Have some class. Honestly, it shows that these voters consider Animated Films to be lesser works that are to be judged by their children (one voter actually stated that she let her children decide the winner) and not judged on the merit of what they contribute as a standalone film, and this is a shame.
Here’s the thing; ‘Song of the Sea’ is a better film than ‘The LEGO Movie’. This isn’t a knock on ‘The LEGO Movie’ a film I found endlessly entertaining and extraordinarily clever, but ‘Song of the Sea’ is pretty close to absolute perfection and, in a just world, would have won the Oscar (I still haven’t seen ‘The Tale of the Princess Kaguya’).
‘Song of the Sea’ tells the story of Ben, a young boy who loves his mother dearly, but on the eve of his sister’s birth his mother disappears in quite the tumultuously mysterious way, and so Ben has grown to nearly despise his younger sister, Saoirse. But there is something special about Saoirse. You see, she’s the last of the selkies. If you aren’t familiar with selkies, they are basically Irish mermaids, creatures of folklore that are seals who transform into beautiful women. The film then follows Ben and Saoirse as they journey to undo a curse placed on her people and free them once a for all, in the process saving Saoirse’s life, as she struggles to survive without her coat (in Irish folklore, a selkie sheds her seal coat when she becomes a human, but needs it in order to survive).
I’m personally quite fascinated by selkies. I love that kind of fairytale, and I’ve seen a few wonderful films that have touched upon the subject. ‘Song of the Sea’ is the best that I’ve seen. It has such a beautiful way of being both magical in scope and yet so intimate and honest in texture. The way it touches upon the bitter and consuming aspects of grief is so heartbreaking, whether it be the way that Ben and Saoirse’s father, Connor, becomes a mere shell of a man in the wake of his wife’s disappearance, or the way that it was one man’s uncontrollable sadness that caused his mother to curse the land in order to spare him (and herself) the continued grief. It also shows how grief can be overcome and can be used to make us stronger, to help us love deeper and appreciate what we do have. And let’s not forget the beautiful tale of the bond between siblings here, which is so touching, so moving, so heartwarming.
Not only is ‘Song of the Sea’ a profound piece of storytelling, but it’s a visual wonder. The animated here is truly transfixing, with complex and spellbinding sets and a range of details that light up the screen. The scope of this animation is astonishing. And the music, oh the music. The rich Irish musicality complete with some stunning Original Songs by one of my personal favorite singers, Lisa Hannigan, bring such life, spirit and culture to this brilliant film.
So, ‘The LEGO Movie’ should have been nominated for the Oscar; no doubt. I’m in agreement with you there. BUT, it should not have been at the expense of this cinematic wonder.