Here, Glen Keane and composer John Williams, best known for his scores for Star Wars, collaborated with Kobe Bryant on a sentimental homage to the sport of basketball as it affected his own life and fortunes. Keane's hand-drawn animation, always a pleasure to look at, nonetheless cannot elevate this maudlin film without a real story arc to anything of much cinematic interest. Two stars.
A quirky, funny little story depicted in what appears to be stop-motion animation (though it is sometimes hard to tell these days) about a man who takes pride in knowing how to properly pack a suitcase and his relationship with his father. Delightful, with clever transitions and a lot of graphic surprises. Four stars.
Pixar's entry has a lot of razzle-dazzle computer animation, as might be expected, and a small story about bullying on a children's school playground and a character assembled from the contents of a lost and found bin. Three stars.
This film about a mysteriously abandoned mansion that is gradually taken over by a troupe of amphibians from nearby who unwittingly reveal its secrets. Excellent computer animation, but above all an engaging storyline, all accomplished without dialog. Four stars.
Another Raould Dahl story brought to animated life, Revolting Rhymes conflates Red Riding Hood, Snow White and the Three Little Pigs into one dark but hilarious storyline. Computer animation that sometimes looks like stop-motion; possibly another hybrid. And there is even a suggestion of romance between Snow White and Red! Four stars.
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There they are. But if you are interested in glimpsing some of the entries that didn't make this final cut of five, just take a look at this blog post from Amid Amidi's blog Cartoon Brew. You will see trailers, stills or--in a few cases--complete versions of over sixty films trying for the Oscar gold. Some of them are dark subjects, and many are in unfamiliar styles that the average viewer of Hollywood cinema might find uncomfortable. But they all are winners of film festival prizes, and all deserve attention. It is a reminder that the possibilities in animated film are wide and deep, and the limitations few.