Oscar Statue Spirited Away

“All That Jazz” may have been the most played theme song of the evening, but the glitz and glamour of Hollywood gave way to subdued black attire and mixed feelings last night at the 75th annual Academy Awards. There were also quite a few no-shows due to the uncertainties of international travel. Among them was Hayao Miyazaki, whose Spirited Away won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

In a good year for animated movies, Spirited Away managed to make off with the majority of major feature animation prizes throughout the awards season. But as Academy voting is often surprising and contrary to critical opinion, it was anyone’s game with strong contenders Lilo & Stitch, Ice Age, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and Treasure Planet all up for the honor.

Actress Jennifer Garner (Alias, Daredevil) was joined onstage by a computer generated 3D Mickey Mouse to present the award for Best Animated Short. In another interesting race, Sony Pictures Imageworks’ The ChubbChubbs beat out the Monsters Inc. DVD special feature Mike’s New Car (Pete Docter and Roger Gould), the darkly atmospheric The Cathedral (Tomek Baginski), the German stop-motion student film Das Rad (Chris Stenner and Heidi Wittlinger) and the only 2D contender, Mount Head (Koji Yamamura). Upon accepting the award, ChubbChubbs director Eric Armstrong humbly noted, “It’s about the team, not the individual.”

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers vanquished Spider-Man and Star Wars: Episode 2 - Attack of the Clones to capture the Oscar for Achievement in Visual Effects. The win came as little surprise considering Weta Digital’s work on the second film in the trilogy had already collected a number of major awards. The team of Jim Rygiel, Joe Letteri, Randall William Cook and Alex Funke took the stage to accept the statuette. As they fought to get all their thank yous in, Cook managed to shout over the play-out music, “Especially our animation department.” The film also picked up the award for Achievement in Sound Editing.

Though Andy Serkis wasn’t up for Best Supporting Actor, his digital doppelganger, Gollum, got plenty of screen time during the ceremony. The wretched creature was the focus of several clips shown, including footage of Serkis acting juxtaposed with the finished shot of Gollum inserted in his place.