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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A newly minted Oscar-nominee for Best Animated Feature is premiering its English Language version at this week’s Sundance Film Festival and we’ve got your exclusive first look at the poster. The film is called Ernest & Celestine; it tells the story of a rivalry between mice and bears. Directed by Benjamin Renner, Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar, the film was a festival darling and was recently named Best Animated Film by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. The English voice cast is second to none — Forest Whitaker, Mackenzie Foy, Lauren Bacall, Paul Giamatti, William H. Macy, Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman, Jeffrey Wright — and it’ll have three screenings in Park City, UT this week before a theatrical release March 14.

Check out our exclusive debut of the Sundance poster below. Read More »


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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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 »