The 2019 Oscars are just three weeks away and this year the oft-overlooked animated feature category looks set for a potential upset. Thanks to an investigation by the Hollywood Reporter back in 2015, it was revealed that many Academy voters barely bother to watch the animated contenders and plump for the latest Disney or Pixar release. But this year the field is open – Disney are in the running with Incredibles 2 and Ralph Breaks the Internet, but there’s also the painstaking Wes Anderson film Isle of Dogs, emotional anime Mirai and the surprisingly innovative Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse that has been steamrolling the awards circuit.
We reached out to find out which movies the industry is backing…
Juan Pablo Zaramella
Director at Nerd
Isle of Dogs
It’s the film that means a real challenge and risk in today's panorama of animation features. Although I loved Spider-Verse as a fresh vision of the superhero world, Isle of Dogs also breaks the limits of the industry by having an extreme personal vision and cinema language. But beyond the typical real textures and anagogic feeling of stop motion, this movie is a kind of moving painting with every single frame. It expands the limits of perception with outstanding use of minimalist sound and music (that includes the Kurosawa references), introducing the audiences in a completely new universe.
The camera language is a kind of Rubik’s Cube, limiting the possibilities of movements to certain axes and turns, but giving at the same time a perfect perception of an original but simple story. This simplicity is the key to allow the perfect balance between form and content in the film.
Head of development of original content at Nexus
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Spider-Verse has my most effusive vote. I’ve really enjoyed all the other nominated films (massive Pixar and Wes Anderson fan here) and I’m excited by the mix of voices and animation techniques that are being commended this year.
Despite these high standards, Spider-Verse leaps above them all as the total game changer for feature animation that it is. Sony’s film is so gutsy, bursting with bravado and wit. Its striking and irreverent visual language (a tremendous challenge for an animated production of this calibre) is an absolute feast for our human senses. It equates to diving into an immersive comic book for a thrilling two hours.
Most importantly of all, the film packs several punches in terms of its comedic timing, emotional core, and defiance of genre conventions. Its empowering character line up embraces diversity like countless other animated films should have done so light years ago. And you’d need to be made of stone if Miles Morales’ aspirational plight to prove himself doesn’t resonate or inspire you! Plus, who doesn’t want to see a Spider-Ham spin-off next?!
Spider-Verse is an incredible achievement on many levels, and the bar has been officially raised for all future animated Hollywood studio films.
CEO and creative director at SKILZ Studio
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
What impressed me in new Spider-Man?
This movie is definitely a celebration of modern design and style.
The film is not just high-quality animation - these are creative and out-of-the-box solutions, a very balanced and well-thought-out mix of styles. I would say this is a ‘Festival of Happiness’ for Motion Designers (like me). For example, look at a small detail like the use of halftone (the dot texture used to shade cartoons). This is not just a standard effect superimposed on the image. It is a pattern which is matched in size and style with the scale of each object in the frame. And it is only one of the many details.
Add to this a great plot that captures your attention from the first seconds and holds it to the end. There’s a good sense of humour. And of course, awesome music, which perfectly complements the visual part. This cartoon is an excellent symbiosis of modern trends in visual and digital art. The filmmakers understand very well what generation they are making this for. Perhaps this is not the most revolutionary film in the animation genre, but it is definitely a trend and will set a new direction and high level of quality. And for motion designers, it will also prove an inexhaustible source of references.