The Shocking Number of This Year’s Animated Features That I’ve Seen – Animation Scoop

The Shocking Number of This Year’s Animated Features That I’ve Seen

The answer may surprise you.

None. The answer is none. Not a single film in Variety’s list of those currently eligible for the Oscar’s so much as made it within viewing distance of my eyeballs.

This isn’t necessarily a comment on the quality of this year’s films. Certainly there are some very well-received among the ranks as well as some real stinkers. Yet it is a comment on how well the industry is catering to my contemporary tastes; something which may well intersect strongly with different lifestyle circumstances than last year.

This speaks volumes of the current state of the industry and its fascination with catering to broad swathes of demographics in the name of profitability. The genre of the animated family comedy is an anathema to what excites my interests, mainly because we’ve seen so many (and so many that are similar) since Pixar entrenched it into the public’s consciousness. The genre may be profitable, but it’s been a creative blind alley for a few years now.

no-see

Other films on the list are certainly more appealing, yet high-brow films such as The Red Turtle, and Miss Hokusai suffer from an infuriating degree of inaccessibility. They aren’t necessarily playing at the local cinema and there are no alternatives until they either come out on home video, or you’re willing to find other illicit sources.

This year’s slate of animated films is stronger than at any time in the past, yet it’s a near dichotomy between the ‘fun for all the family’ CGI fare, and the exquisite animated masterpieces that are hard to come by. There is a real lack of middle ground where films can challenge the masses with artistic flourishes yet be accessible enough that they can play in places that are easily accessible to audiences.

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS

It’s agreeable that Kubo and the Two Strings sits within this middle ground, yet as I noted previously, the film’s failure to find an audience was its undoing and signifies the risk of pursuing exactly the strategy mentioned above. Yet this unstable ground is the only place that animated films have yet to fully explore creatively. Big-budget films have their formulae down pat, and technology (among other things) has made it easier than ever to craft high-brow artistic films that push the artform as a whole. The space between ought to connect them, yet it remains a gaping void. Economics undoubtedly play a role in the existence of this void as Kubo’s performance demonstrates.

However, the onus is on filmmakers and producers to find a way that bridges this gap. Audiences are hungry for creative content and it’s false to say that they occupy a niche. To use a food analogy, they aren’t looking for a Big Mac, but they aren’t looking for a prime rib at an upscale place either. They’re looking for that one meal that’s a local favourite because it’s a specialty crafted by people with years of experience.

None of this year’s films seemed like that to me, and although my tastes may have changed from 2015, it doesn’t explain why I had such a low desire to actually see any of them. The answer as to why remains elusive, but I’m hoping that next year proves to be an improvement.

Charles Kenny

Charles Kenny

Being tall, Irish and a civil engineer by trade, Charles stands out in the animation crowd, hence his position as the Animation Anomaly.
Charles Kenny
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  • rubi-kun

    Why didn’t you see Kubo?

  • Nic Kramer

    I don’t believe this. Personally, I thought this year was more or less solid. Then again, I’m not closed minded like some people are.

  • Lovetta Sangster

    Maybe some of us want something brand new and instead of the same bullshit dress up differently . I.e I want something other than a good kid’s film and crude adult comedy. I love sausage party.

  • top_cat_james

    Agree with Charles 100% here. The last animated feature I saw in a theater was The Peanuts Movie a year ago. There was nothing released this year that would motivate me to trudge to the multiplex, and pay an exorbitant admission to be surrounded by rude idiots. Changing tastes is indeed a factor, but also that there are just too many films out, with little distinction between them.

    Save me a seat when The Incredibles 2 comes out.

  • MegaChaosGelee

    Everyone should have seen it :O Movie of the year for me personally. I mean, if not even animation fans bother to give it a chance and support it, then this kind of art is doomed and no wonder it didn’t find an audience. Kubo was only a week in theaters over here and only in the big cities. I drove across half the country just to watch, and it was totally worth it. Something that’s best experienced on the big screen. I was the only person in the whole cinema hall, though.

    I don’t know what Charles Kenny’s changes in “lifestyle circumstances” were, so I don’t want to sound too harsh. But it sure seems a little hypocritical to me to basically criticise the state of the industry but then not showing up when another gem actually does arrive that tries to do a few things differently from the usual formula and visual style. Yes, Kubo may still be a family movie, but it’s certainly not predominantly a comedy.