Feet Dances Off with Oscar
By: Ryan Ball
There was no checkered flag for Disney and Pixar this year as Cars
was upset by Warner Bros.’ Happy Feet, which snagged
the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Sunday night at the 79th Annual
Academy Awards. Many expected the night to be a victory lap for
director John Lasseter's Cars, which has had a successful
awards season run that resulted in top toon awards at the Golden
Globes, the Annies and the People’s Choice Awards, among others.
Disney fared better on the visual effects side as Industrial Light
& Magic as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
plundered Oscar gold for visual effects.
As a testament to how important
animation has become in Hollywood, the Oscar broadcast started off
with an animated segment that featured a group of penguin characters
from Happy Feet sending Mumbles off to Tinsel Town for
the big night. In his travels to sunny California, Mumbles even
came across Lightning McQueen, the Owen Wilson character from Cars.
Kove, Director of Oscar-Winning Short The Danish Poet
Norwegian born animator
Torill Kove had her first date with Oscar in 1999, when her
short My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirts landed
a well-deserved nomination. The talented artist just received
her first Oscar this year thanks to her well-received 2D animated
short The Danish Poet, which was produced with support
from the National Film Board of Canada. Narrated by Liv Ullmann,
this cleanly drawn gem looks at how circumstance and happy
accidents determine the love affair between a poet and a Norwegian
farm maiden. We caught up with Kove, who answered our questions
from her More...
Directed by George Miller (Babe: Pig in the City), Happy
Feet ended a winning streak for Disney and Pixar, who took
Best Animated Feature for its last two releases, 2003’s Finding
Nemo and 2004’s The Incredibles. Mumbles and
his arctic pals also won over Sony’s Monster House
from first-time feature director Gil Kenan. Accepting the award,
Miller remarked, “I asked my kids what should I say and they
said to thank all the men for wearing penguin suits.” He added,
“They gave me a lucky coin and a lucky penguin, but my real
good luck was to work with hundreds and hundreds of great people.”
Pixar also came up empty-handed in the category Best Animated Short,
which went to Norweigen filmmaker Torill Kove’s The Danish
Poet (National Film Board of Canada). In addition to beating
Lifted from Pixar and director Gary Rydstrom, Danish
Poet bested Roger Allers’ The Little MatchGirl
(Disney) Geza M. Toth’s Maestro and Chris Renaud
and Mike Thermeier’s No Time for Nuts (Blue Sky).
Accepting the award, Kove commented, “I want to thank the
Academy for continuing to support this animated short category,
it means a lot to us.” She went on to thank the thank National
Film Board of Canada and all those in Norway who supported the film.
There was little doubt that the hugely successful Pirates
sequel would lay waste to the competition, especially after team
at ILM got the nod from their peers by sweeping the recent Visual
Effects Society Awards. The swashbuckling adventure, which features
a healthy helping of impressive CG animation, won over the Warner
Bros. releases Poseidon and Superman Returns.
Accepting the award for Dead Man’s Chest were John Knoll,
Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and Allen Hall.
Director Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth,
which features visual effects by CafeFX, was favored to win Best
Foreign Language Film but ended up losing to the German entry The
Lives of Others. Labyrinth did, however, walk away
with wins a number of categories, including make-up, art direction/set
design and cinematography.
For a complete list of this year’s Academy Award winners,