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Of the five nominees up for the Best Animated Feature Oscar this year, Ernest & Celestine is likely the least known. But it looks every bit as worthwhile as the other contenders, with a pleasingly old-fashioned animation style that stands in stark contrast to the slick CG works by Disney, Illumination, and DreamWorks.

This new trailer isn’t the first look we’ve had at the interspecies buddy comedy, as a French-language promo hit all the way back in 2012. But it’s a fresh cut, with English dubbing and everything. Mackenzie Foy (The Conjuring) voices Celestine the mouse, and Forest Whitaker voices Ernest the bear. Check it out after the jump.

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If the increasing prevalence of CG animation hasn’t dulled your passion for more traditional forms of animation, this trailer for Ernest & Celestine, a story about a friendship between a bear and mouse, might seem to float right off the screen.

I’ve written about the animated film Ernest and Celestine in the past, in part because it just looks lovely, and in part because two of the three primary creators (Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, who worked here with Benjamin Renner) are the people behind the stop-motion gem A Town Called Panic. French writer Daniel Pennac penned the screenplay, based on the illustrated books by the late Gabrielle Vincent, and while I can’t tell what the result of his writing is, the look of the film is both faithful to the books, and also lively in its own right.

There are no subtitles in this trailer, so you’ll have to muddle through the French dialogue, but the energy and animation are so nice that it probably won’t matter. Read More »

Just today I was recommending the incomparably wonderful animated film A Town Called Panic to a friend, which it occurred to me to wonder: what progress has been made on the project the makers of that film (Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar) are cooking up now? They’re making a new film, Ernest and Celestine (co-directed by Benjamin Renner), and as it turns out there is actually a current article about it in Variety, based on the fact that yesterday saw the debut of footage at the Annecy festival in France.

So that crop above is probably your first look at Ernest and Celestine, which adapts the book series by Gabrielle Vincent. The full image is below, along with some more news on the film.  It looks like quite a change of pace from A Town Called PanicRead More »

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Here’s to a school of dagger-propelled, orange barracuda siccing any listmeister who jumped the gun and failed to consider A Town Called Panic for his or her top ten films of 2009. Undeniably the most entertaining and energetic movie of that now-caput year, I found myself funstruck from film’s start to its fireworks-laden finish; ATCP is also 2009′s best animated film, somehow scurrying and climbing past other visionary, grand entries from the oh-nine like Wes Anderson’s fireside-classic Fantastic Mr. Fox, Pixar’s latest crown jewel Up, and Disney’s strong, under-appreciated The Princess and the Frog. This superlative—and I realize how questionable it may seem to those unimpressed by the accompanying image—is not fueled by contrarianism or ostentatious indie preferences; this Fantastic Fest Audience Award winner is simply that effing good. Seek it out.

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A Town Called Panic was one of the more well-received films at Fantastic Fest last month, where it also picked an Audience Award. The unorthodox, stop-motion style of this Belgian animated film needs to be seen to be fully understood, as it taps a mesmerizing, madcap absurdity from the disposability of cheap, plastic toys (think a bag of multi-colored waxy dinosaurs). A limited release is now set in the U.S. for late this year and early next, which is rad given that countless glowing reviews accentuate the theatrical experience.

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