Why Princess Kaguya Will Win the Oscar

I smell an upset in the making. According to Deadline, the party responsible for The Lego Movie being notoriously snubbed at this years Oscars is none other than GKids Films.

The conventional wisdom says that Disney or Dreamworks will take the Best Animated Feature Oscar, since Academy voters consider animation a second-class medium not worthy of their attention. But I don't think that's going to happen this year. My gut feeling doesn't believe it. I am feeling ever more confident that Isao Takahata's The Tale of the Princess Kaguya will win. Here are my reasons why:

1) The idea that GKids knocked out The Lego Movie will only add to the hype. It's a great narrative - David vs Goliath, and if you know anything about the movies, it's that Hollywood loves a good story. And it cements the rise of the New York-based indie film distributor.

2) Takahata's Princess Kaguya has received enthusiastic praise from critics. I expected the usual praise given to every Ghibli feature, but something about Kaguya captured their imaginations. For a moment, they seemed to understand it. They got it. I'm reminded of the buzz surrounding Miyazaki's Spirited Away in 2002.

3) This may be Studio Ghibli's farewell. At least, that's what Hollywood currently believes. They bestowed a second Oscar to Hayao Miyazaki earlier this year, as a tribute to his 50-year career. Takahata has not formally announced his retirement, but his age (79) and his famously long production times for films point to Kaguya as his final masterpiece. This may be our last chance to celebrate these masters of cinema.

4) Where is the buzz for Disney or Dreamworks? Nowhere. Compare this to the attention paid to Frozen last year.

5) Hand-Drawn Animation versus CGI has a certain romantic appeal, and fits perfectly with the Davis vs Goliath theme. Classical animation may be going the way of Studio Ghibli, which makes this the End of An Era. Another story for Hollywood to consume.

And, finally...slightly joking...

6) The new Horus, Prince of the Sun DVD is causing shockwaves through the movie world, introducing people everywhere to the genius that is Takahata. Paku-Mania is everywhere!

And, by the way, you're freakin' welcome. :)


GW said...

I wish that Minuscule Valley of the Lost Ants had been nominated. Of all the films I've seen I liked that one best. If only the average movie goer had more adventurous tastes.

Anonymous said...

I really hope it does win, because if it does, I believe more of Takahata's work will be released in the US. I also think it could be the extra push Bandi needs to release Marco to Blu Ray.

Mickey said...

I hope it wins for real!

A. said...

Since Frozen beat Wind Rises I mean we really should treat Oscars for what it is. And I'm not saying Frozen is a terrible film, it's funny with well made songs. But Wind Rises is a technical masterpiece of cinema and magnum opus of Miyazaki in many ways. It should've won Best Picture outright. So Oscar's are just not worthy of attention imo.

Unknown said...

Well to be completely honest, Frozen winning was not a surprise at all. It was a good movie. Wind Rises although a technical marvel, had too many issues on other fronts to be considered a contender. Pacing, plotting, and particularly people took issue with some of the themes. It was too divisive a film to win.

I think as Daniel points out, Kaguya has a pretty strong case for winning. Wind Rises never did.

A. said...

People took issue with it being anti-war? has Hollywood stigmatised anti war films?

Unknown said...

Frankly people who have a problem with the themes of The Wind Rises are repeating what they read somewhere in the media without any critical thought. Parrots and nothing else. Every argument I read against it was stupid and intellectually lazy ... With half-baked thoughts that there is no strong female character in the movie, that the females are one-dimensional ( ?! ) and that the movie has something against women?!! Don't let me mention that these stupid people say that the movie is somehow pro-war or anti-Japanese or whatever. I think they have trouble with their cognitive functions.

I am a film fan before being an animation fan. And as a film fan I am disappointed that The Wind Rises and Kaguya Hime were not nominated - by all accounts mature films with themes that are essential to the human condition and with brilliant editing and with authors who do not look down on viewers. I cannot name one better film from this year. This just adds another nail to the coffin of the Oscars and the film industry as a whole - which is getting more and more decadent.

But it is not like I expected the Oscars to be anything else but vain pomp.

Lionel Braithwaite said...

@Grega bitežnik: If the Oscars were as 'decadent' as you claim, then Birdman wouldn't won Best Picture, nor would J.K. Simmons have won for playing the role he did in Whiplash. Princess Kayuga was at least nominated for a Best Animated Picture (along with Song Of The Sea so that should count for something.

Somebody posted this a long time ago around the time of the movie Persopolis being nominated, and I feel that what was said applies now, too:

I am so tired of this kind of talk. Boo the big bad Hollywood Corporation! Reward the movie that is different and independent!

I don't know really what is that you pseudo-critics look forward and enjoy in a movie. A movie is a way to tell a story. Do you like that story and how it was told to you? then you like the movie! and vice versa.

Which studio made the movie, what is their approach, what character represent what in the studio's history or politics... Who cares? Since when is animation become the stuff of check out-line magazine gossip?

There is no war against the big studios, there is no "us versus them". People keep saying: "Pixar problem is that they tell the same stories... "Dreamworks problem is..." Disney problem is..." You know what guys: there is no problem!

The Studios goal is to tell stories that can reach and be appreciated by as many people as possible. That's it. Some time they succeed and make a great movie some time they make lame ones. "Oh but giving an Oscar to a movie like Persepolis can send a message to the industry...etc" no! giving an Oscar to Persepolis means (and should mean) well done! you made a great movie. That's it.

If a movie like Persepolis was released in the same amount of theaters and with the same marketing as a movie like Finding Nemo, the latter would still have had an audience of about 95% larger then the Former.

Often I hear people asking head of companies like Katzenberg or Lasseter questions like: Why don't we make more experimental movies? More Alternative? Different? The answer is an extremely simple one: Because people Don't like it.

We can all tell our self that our industry is a noble one, but at the end of the day it follows the same rules of the market: Supply and demand.

There is indeed a market for "Different" movies, one that we call Independent. which reaches as many people as it can, simply the people that appreciate that kind of projects. As simple as that (there is exceptions in both groups, Huge block busters among the independents and huge flops among the studios).

As simple as that, People blame the studios for it, "Give the small movies a chance!" they say, some time they go as far as conceiving conspiracy theories, etc.. but at the end of the day there is simply less people appreciating one kind of movie, instead of the other.

One can say (as One often does) "Well people are morons!" in my opinion those statements insults he who says it, more then those whom the insult was intended for.

I suggest you to read "Babette's Feast" by Karen Blixen. The best metaphor for Art ever. In the book there was a dinner with various guests: The Rich and educated ones (snobs perhaps) can understand it, define it, and love it for it. Those who are simple, unpretentious and even ignorant will not know what it is, nor know how to define it, but their emotion will raise, they will feel happy, and will love it.

I believe this is the rule by which one should judge movies and art in general. Nothing else.

Unknown said...

Lionel I don't think you read what I actually wrote - I was not saying people are morons in general. And for the rest - you did not read what I wrote.

Also - I comment on what I see: If people love movies and works of culture which degrade human beings - like Nicki Minaj ( and a million others which are all over the media ) or Hangover I would definitely call them stupid. I have no problem with designating somebody as stupid. If the industry is producing such works ( which are aimed mostly at young people and children! ) I will say that they are evil. Even if somehow one or two good things come from such an industry it still stinks.

I have only seen parts of Whiplash and have talked to some friends who saw it. From what I saw and heard it seems to me as degrading as those two examples I gave - unless it is somehow a critique of the kind of approach to music/education/culture shown in the movie. I will watch the movie in full though so I don't talk bullshit. And if you had read my post I posted that the so called alternative/elitist european ( or whichever you want ) scene is just as bad.

Also - I love Babette's Feast but I have only seen the movie; will put the book on my "book-club list" - thanks for reminding me :)

Have a nice day!

( PS I am not trying to be antagonistic but I feel like you completely misunderstood what I wrote )

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