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Award season is ready to get into full swing, and one of the early stages of the runup to the Academy Awards is the submission of Best Animated Feature options.

This year there are nineteen submitted features, including big studio fare (Cloudy 2, The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Monsters University), one from Studio Ghibli (The Wind Rises), a European effort we’ve covered a good bit (Ernest and Celestine) and a good few films that US audiences haven’t had much chance to see yet. One pleasant side effect of the animated Oscar list is that it draws attention to films that are new to many viewers.

That said, of the studio fare there are only a couple of compelling submissions, and enough of the rest are going to be new enough to Oscar voters that this might not be much of a race. The 86th Annual Academy Award nominations will be announced on January 16, 2014, and we’ll be curious to see how many films actually make the nomination cut. The awards will be held on March 2, 2014.

Read the submission list below.

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One of the more intriguing films being release this summer is Blue Sky Studio’s Epic. Featuring an insane list of voice talent (Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Amanda Seyfried, Christoph Waltz, Aziz Ansari, Chris O’Dowd, Pitbull, Jason Sudeikis, Steven Tyler, Beyoncé Knowles) the film tells the story of a young girl who finds herself in the middle of a battle for the forest filled with tiny warriors, bugs and all kinds of action. The trailers show that the film has the potential to be a great family adventure.

The Art of Epic book by Titan shows off a lot of the film’s designs, and they’ve given us four exclusive pieces of concept art. Check them out below. Read More »

2013 Summer Movie Preview

Trailers! Who has time to watch them all? There are something like forty wide releases due out this summer alone. If you assume each trailer runs about two minutes, that’s about an hour and half of your life you’ll never get back. That’s time you could’ve spent actually watching one of these movies.

If you only watch one trailer this spring, then, you’ll want to make it this one. This three-minute supercut teases most of the season’s biggest releases, from Iron Man 3 to The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. It’s surprisingly coherent, which may suggest that these titles aren’t as different as the filmmakers would like us to think. Or maybe it just proves that with the right music and some skillful editing, you can totally change the meaning of any scene. In any case, watch it after the jump.

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"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"

Last year at CinemaCon, 20th Century Fox previewed very early footage for Ang Lee’s Life of Pi. Attendees at the presentation were floored, and the buzz on all the blogs was that Pi was an Oscar contender. Some argued that April was too early to be calling for possible Oscar contenders, and they were probably right. We all know how that turned out.

This year Fox arrived in Vegas bearing another special preview: between fifteen and twenty minutes of the Ben Stiller-directed The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. (Stiller also stars.) Again, it’s April, it’s too early to make such claims, but the Oscar buzz has begun.

After the jump you can read my thoughts on the footage screened from Mitty, or watch a video blog I recorded with Alex from Firstshowing talking about presentations of footage from The Wolverine, Epic, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Walking With Dinosaurs: The Movie.
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Epic

Sure, it’s got noble warriors, a vicious villain, a graceful queen, and an old, bitter feud, but the most epic thing about Epic may be the voice cast. Amanda Seyfried leads as Mary Katherine, an ordinary girl who somehow gets shrunk down and finds herself involved in the grand yet very, very tiny battle between the protectors and the destroyers of the forest.

The characters she meets along the way are voiced by the likes of Christoph Waltz, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Aziz Ansari, Chris O’Dowd, Blake Anderson, Steven Tyler, Beyoncé Knowles, and Pitbull. Jason Sudeikis voices her father. The latest trailer makes sure the emphasize just how many celebrities have gone into the making of this movie. Watch it after the jump.

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A star-studded cast works wonderfully as a marketing gimmick, but as films like New Year’s Eve and Movie 43 have proven, it’s no guarantee of quality. Fortunately, Blue Sky Studios’ animated adventure Epic seems to have a little more going for it.

Amanda Seyfried voices Mary Katherine, a normal girl who gets caught up in an old and bitter battle between the protectors of the forest (voiced by Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, and others) and the destructive forces led by Mandrake (Christoph Waltz). Beyoncé, Pitbull, Steven Tyler, Judah Friedlander, Aziz Ansari, and Blake Anderson also star. Watch the second trailer after the jump.

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Following on the heels of a bunch of character images, here’s the first full trailer for Blue Sky Studios’ Epic, directed by Chris Wedge (Ice AgeRobots) and featuring the voices of Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, and Aziz Ansari (in what seems to be essentially a parralel of Eddie Murphy’s gig in Shrek). Seyfried voices a girl who is pulled into a tiny forest battle between Leafmen and their enemies; naturally there’s a handsome little leaf dude (Hutcherson), a weird sidekick (Ansari) and a bunch of eye-candy creature-fairy-things.

Much like the Ice Age series from Blue Sky Studios, this is a beautifully-animated piece of work that looks like it will have more appeal for kids than big crossover success in the vein of Pixar.

Check out the trailer below. Read More »

The first teaser trailer for Blue Sky’s CG-animated Epic was wonderful at showing off its fantastical forest setting, but not so much at introducing us to the characters. We heard more of Snow Patrol’s “The Lightning Strike” than we did dialogue from the cast, despite a star-studded lineup including Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Christoph Waltz, Colin Farrell, Beyonce Knowles, Jason Sudeikis, Aziz Ansari, and Chris O’Dowd.

But now a fresh batch of images have cropped up to show us who’s who in the picture, and what they’re all doing there. Hit the jump to see images of Hutcherson and Farrell’s miniature Leafmen warriors, Knowles’ Mother Nature incarnate, Waltz’s villainous force of decay, Ansari’s rather Tom Haverford-esque slug, and more.

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