Feb 25, 2007

And the Oscar goes to...

I just turned on the Academy Awards in time to see Torill Kove win a heavy golden statuette for her animated short film "The Danish Poet", and it brought tears to my eyes. I loved Ms. Kove's charming film and am thrilled that she was so honored. But had any of the five nominees won I'd still have been sniffling.

I always get choked up seeing animators win Oscars. There's something so compelling, so right, so against the ever-widening grain of big business Hollywood when an individual who's an artist in the same line as myself and as the people I've always admired gets the same award that producers and directors and composers and movie stars do.

All the aforementioned are absolutely deserving, of course--but for animators it's often the only time they are honored on the same playing field as the most powerful people in what's arguably the world's most glamorous business. That they are still included in the ceremony is a proof to me that the Academy really values all filmic contributions--as it should, as it was created to do.

This is why I get annoyed when writers and pundits on both film and televison(who should know better) carp about their annual boredom at being forced to see "nobodies" like animators, sound designers, documentarians and set designers share the Oscar stage with what we're all supposed to be interested in--"stars". This, though as everyone knows the real reason that the ceremony runs four hours instead of two and a half is due to: too many montages(this comes from myself as a lover of clever and evocative montage--but after a few brilliant presentations that well's been drunk a bit dry); too much scripted banter that it's plain many of the participants would rather dispense with(thank you, George Clooney, for your always-welcome pointedness); and unwieldy ideas such as having the presenters for best screenplay read a segment of the script, alternating with the concurrent running of that particular clip of film--this, although god help the actual winner of best screenplay(adapted or original)--he or she will get a maxuimum of much too short a time before the music cuts them off.

But back to the animation nominees: the moment when an otherwise obscure artist is called to the stage is an amazingly emotional one...perhaps some guy writing for a newspaper somewhere doesn't care about it, but I'd bet Marty Scorsese (another jump-off-the-couch-and-scream moment for yours truly) and Thelma Schoonmaker(more screaming)do...editors are the friends of animation folk, dealing as they do with the painstaking assemblage of film. And directors--Scorsese knows as do most directors I'm sure--that animation is the ultimate experience of control of film. In the case of a massive feature, it's control that is shared with many people; with a short, it's one. Toiling on their films, I'm certain none of the filmmmakers are thinking of the Academy Awards...but for five of them, here they find themselves. In their recognition you have a perfect miniature of what the Academy is all about, really: not the TV show, or the glitz(that stuff is fun, no joke, mind you)--but the "honoring of our own", stretching back to 1931 and "Flowers and Trees"; Mary Pickford handing out a statuette to Walt Disney...and Bette Davis chairing an Academy meeting.

History makes me wistful. What was news last night is history now--and now maybe many many more people might see "The Danish Poet", and remember it.

So, congratulations again to Ms. Kove--and Gary Rydstrom, Roger Allers, Don Hahn, Geza Toth, Chris Renaud and Michael Thurmeier. I admire and am happy for all of you for getting there.

ADDENDUM: "The Danish Poet", along with several other nominated shorts both animated and live action, is available now for download for the tempting price of $1.99 on iTunes music store. No, I don't get a percentage.


Uncle Phil said...

great post. Thanks for writing it.

Michael Sporn said...

Nicely stated. It's really a good film, and I have to agree with your thoughts on the little guys getting air time. Lets get rid of the chorus running up the aisle. As a matter of fact, lets keep it all and watch a long show. I love it all.

Lee-Roy said...

Nice post, Jenny. I think it's wonderful that Ms. Kove won. I was not expecting her to, but when I saw the animated shorts at the Nuart last week, I was immediately impressed by The Danish Poet and kept thinking about it in the days following. I also would have been happy for any of the nominees had they won, but this is a victory for independent artists and animators everywhere.

Stephen Worth said...

The Annie Awards this year was entertaining from beginning to end- not a single dull part. You can't say that for the Oscars. Perhaps the "nobodies" are more interesting than the "stars".

See ya

David Germain said...

I read somewhere that a few years ago the Acadamy was actually considering discontinuing the Animated Short Subject oscar. I, for one, am glad they didn't. Like you said, animators are just as deserving (maybe even more deserving) of that prestigious award as any of the stars in attendance.

Anonymous said...

Oooh, thank you very much for the tip...buying if from iTunes right this minute. :D

the grom said...

Hi....gosh i swear i just wrote u a comment...but it seems to have vanished!

well...here it is again-


that was a super write-up! it really meant a lot to me-i'm a creative at a small animation house based in Mumbai, India...

do chk us out at www.animagicindia.com

would love to hear your feedback on our work!