Isle of Dogs
Animation is more than just hand drawn pictures or computer graphics, all forms are celebrated and here we have an entry that uses the format of stop motion animation. Isle of Dogs is directed by Wes Anderson and as ever he lends his unique style to the picture showing that animations can be used in whichever way we please. This is his second film to receive a nomination for Best Animated Feature, the first being Fantastic Mr. Fox which faced tough competition during the 82nd Academy Awards and lost out to Up, which I’m sure came as no surprise as it was the only entrant to also be nominated for a Best Picture award too. Isle of Dogs uses the same animation style as Fantastic Mr. Fox, with quirky models that seem both old fashioned and stylishly current at the same time. Having used the animation for establishing shots and transitions for his live action films it’s clear that Anderson has become more imaginative with his work, much of the animation contains more detailed and complex scenes with cinematography that’s rarely seen in this medium. The film has a star-studded ensemble cast that feature many of Andersons usual collaborators such as Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton and Frances McDormand. The film draws heavily on Japanese culture and it has been said that it falls into the trap of stereotyping, in a time where representation is such an important issue this could hinder its results, though we shall have to wait and see.
Mirai is the only Japanese film on the list this year. The Japanese take their animation very seriously, unlike in much of the west where more often than not animated films are seen solely as children’s films, the Japanese have been created animated works for all ages for many years. It could be argued in fact that it is actually much of their work, films like Akira and Ghost in the Shell, that have caused other cultures to see it the medium as a serious platform for a range of topics. That being said, Mirai is perhaps best described as a family movie, though that doesn’t mean it isn’t handled with special care. It tells the story of a young four-year-old boy named Kun who is overwhelmed with the arrival of his new baby sister named Mirai. As is often the case with one-time only children, Kun, despite wanting to love his sister, cannot help but feel jealous of the attention that she is getting. In order to cope he finds himself retreating into an imaginary world. Here he is visited by his late grandfather, his dog who appears in human form and none other than Mirai, though she appears as a teenager from the future. It was directed by Mamoru Hosoda who is perhaps best known as director of Digimon: The Movie, though if that put’s you off fear not, Mirai has been praised as a simple yet profoundly moving piece with a deep emotional resonance, it’s a real contender.