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Best Animated Feature

How to Train Your Dragon
A unique story about a viking kid who befriends the most vicious kind of dragon and learns from him that the species may be misunderstood. It’s a sweet film that definitely tugs on the heart strings, with a great score, interesting characters, and huge voice talent. However, many people’s early predictions felt this slot would either go to this film or Tangled, and I personally felt Tangled was a lot better.

The Illusionist
From the director and writer of The Triplets of Belleville, The Illusionist is a bittersweet story about a struggling magician whose stage performances are being edged out by rock stars, so he takes a young girl under his wing and changes both their lives forever. Much like Triplets, it’s a story told completely by the visuals with hardly any dialogue to speak of, but you would never notice it because the characters interact so well and convey such personality with their actions. Unlike Triplets, though, it doesn’t have the incredible music to act as a soundtrack to this story, and it feels as though something is missing.

Toy Story 3
Woody, Buzz and the gang are back for this final installment that explores what happens to toys when their owner gets too old to play with them. When the toys are accidentally delivered to a day care center, they must learn the rules of their new home, while Woody tries to convince them they need to come back to Andy’s house. Every new character is such a great addition to the franchise, even the insanely creepy Big Baby, and some of our old characters get great subplots, like Barbie’s relationship with Ken. When the moment comes where you’re wondering if it will take a dark turn, if you’re not overcome by emotion and love for the characters you’ve seen through 3 films, then you might be a robot.

What Will Win: Toy Story 3. It wasn’t just the best animated film this year, but one of the best films.

What Should Win: There are some years where you could argue against the always front runnner Pixar, but this year isn’t one of them.

Posted on February 23rd, 2011 by Jess | Comments Off on 2011 Oscars: Best Animated Feature
Filed Under Entertainment

Best Original Score
I love film scores- they can evoke not just moments from the film, but the emotions as well.  The best film scores will stick with you, so years to come when you hear a snippet you can still pinpoint the movie.  If you can’t recall the scores from the nominees, iTunes is a great place to listen to the samples and remember (I had to with a few of the entries this year).

127 Hours
Danny Boyle always chooses his music well and while I couldn’t remember the score exactly offhand, a second listen was all I needed to remember how fantastic it was.  It captured Aron’s energy and emotions throughout the film.  It slows down for a rare, sweet moment of sun for Aron, then picks up for the dream sequence and during the final scene to convey the anxiety and urgency he is feeling.

How to Train Your Dragon
This had a great score, with a sweeping and epic theme, like so many great family movies before it.  With it’s fairy tale, action packed style it reminds me of Hercules, with a little bit of Celtic music thrown in to capture the viking’s spirit.  It’s truly grandiose and spectacular, but nothing original.

Inception
Now this score was both original AND epic.  No second listen was necessary to remember the booming, intimidating notes of this summer movie’s theme.  Borrowing and slowing down an Edith Piaf tune to weave through the score conveys the tragic romance that lies at the heart of the film.

The King’s Speech
A second listen on iTunes reminded me of this films both touching and, at times, playful score.  But the piece of music I remembered most from this film was actually not part of the original score, but a Beethoven symphony that is played as King George delivers his speech.

The Social Network
This score stuck with me like no other did this year.  From the soft, singular piano notes that play as we see beauty shots of Harvard’s campus, paired with the deep, booming notes warning of the conflict to come, to the faster, electronic music that plays as we are introduced to the final clubs, every note was executed perfectly.  It’s so creative and a breath of fresh air to a category where sometimes the nominees can all start to sound alike.

What Will Win:

The Social Network.  In just three solid notes, you are whisked back to a Harvard dorm room, Jesse Eisenberg’s face illuminated by the soft glow of his computer as his fingers clack away on his keyboard.  Plus, the Academy will think they’re being hip by awarding Trent Reznor an Oscar (Remember Three 6 Mafia?)

What Should Win:

The Social NetworkInception and 127 Hours are close runners up this year, but while their scores are just great, Reznor’s score is iconic.

Posted on February 14th, 2011 by Jess | Comments Off on 2011 Oscars: Best Original Score
Filed Under Entertainment