‘Marcel the Shell,’ ‘Wendell & Wild’ Make Critics’ Pick Lists

As the end of the year draws near, groups of film critics around the world are surveying the cinema landscape to make their calls on the best movies to grace screens in 2022.

Emerging as an indie underdog favorite is the much-lauded mockumentary Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, which today added “Best Animated” recognition from the National Board of Review (which picked Top Gun: Maverick as Best Film) to last week’s win from the New York Film Critics Circle Awards (which gave Tár the top honor).

Marcel‘s status as a quirky and emotional independent effort, expanding on director Dean Fleischer-Camp’s hit short film of the same name and distributed by A24, adds to its stand-out shine in a year that has seen quite a few critically acclaimed animated features from major studios (such as Oscar favorite Pixar’s Turning Red, DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish) and celebrated filmmakers (like Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Chris Williams’ The Sea Beast and Nora Twomey’s My Father’s Dragon, all from Netflix).

Marcel (voiced by Jenny Slate) is an adorable one-inch-tall shell who ekes out a colorful existence with his grandmother Connie (Isabella Rosselini) and their pet lint, Alan. Once part of a sprawling community of shells, they now live alone as the sole survivors of a mysterious tragedy. But when a documentary filmmaker discovers them amongst the clutter of his Airbnb, the short film he posts online brings Marcel millions of passionate fans, as well as unprecedented dangers and a new hope at finding his long-lost family. A beloved character gets his big-screen debut in this hilarious and heartwarming story about finding connection in the smallest corners.

Another warmly reviewed Netflix original, animation legend Henry Selick’s Wendell & Wildalso earned a prestige nod today as the sole animated title on the African American Film Critics Association’s list of the Top 10 Films of 2022. The stop-motion supernatural adventure came in at No. 9 (the top spot went to The Woman King).

From the delightfully wicked minds of Henry Selick and producer Jordan Peele comes Wendell & Wild, an animated tale about scheming demon brothers Wendell (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key) and Wild (Peele), who enlist the aid of Kat Elliot (Lyric Ross) — a tough teen with a load of guilt — to summon them to the Land of the Living. But what Kat demands in return leads to a brilliantly bizarre and comedic adventure like no other, an animated fantasy that defies the law of life and death, all told through the handmade artistry of stop motion.

Both films are included in the 27 animated features eligible for Academy Awards this year.

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