Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Best Animated Short - 1982
Well, we have finally reached the 30 year mark. Sure it's taken us almost six months, and part of that time was spent at a rate of two reviews a week, but we're making our way slowly but surely. At this rate we'll probably be looking at finishing less than a year from now! Huzzah!
So it's kind of hard to believe that 1982 is thirty years ago. I mean, it was before I was born, but not much earlier. There are people that I went to high school with born in 1982. Sure, they were juniors or seniors when I was a freshman, but that still doesn't change the fact that, well, I'm getting old. And yet I'm still watching animated shorts and reading comics like "Amelia Rules." But you know what? There's no shame in that! Especially since all of these has much better storytelling and entertainment value than some of the more "adult" things out there!
So, about the year of 1982 itself, I don't remember much of it. (Although if you really want to be technical, I shouldn't remember anything because it was three years before I was born.) I do know that it was the year Spielberg's E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial first appeared in theaters. I always found the film incredibly boring, but it dazzled the country and broke all sorts of box office records. It was also nominated for Best Picture, but it had no chance against Sir Richard Attenborough's biographical film about the life of Mohandas Gandhi. Gandhi had 11 nominations to E.T.'s nine (third most behind Tootsie's 10.) And while E.T. captured four Oscars (including John Williams's fourth out of five awards - he would later win for Schindler's List), Gandhi won eight, becoming the first film in ten years to win eight Oscars, since Cabaret in 1972. And while Cabaret shockingly lost Best Picture, Gandhi didn't suffer the same fate and took home the top prize. Of course, 25 years later Sir Richard Attenborough himself came out and said that E.T. should have won, but there's no erasing what the Academy decided.
Another seminal event that I know of from 1982 was Gaylord Perry winning his 300th game on May 6. Winning 300 games is a big deal now, but it couldn't compare to the frenzy that the "Ancient Mariner" experienced with his 300th win, mostly because nobody had accomplished the feat since Early Wynn almost 19 years earlier. After Perry defeated the Yankees by a score 7-3 in a complete game effort (the 297th complete game of his career...at the age of 43), the Mariners celebrated as if they won the World Series. And he even received a call from President Ronald Reagen in the clubhouse. He even made the cover of Sports Illustrated the following week. Compare that to the fanfare Randy Johnson's 300th win got: a standing ovation and a tip of the cap, but no raucous celebration, no call from President Obama, and just a blurb in Sports Illustrated.
It probably doesn't help that Perry's 300th win was the first in a long series of pitchers that reached the 300-win milestone. In the 10 years after Perry won 300, Steve Carlton won his 300th in 1983. Tom Seaver and Phil Niekro achieved the mark in 1985. Don Sutton did it in 1986 (two days after Jamie Moyer's Cubs debut...against Steve Carlton). And Nolan Ryan achieved the mark in 1990. And then came a lull of 13 years, but came another deluge. Roger Clemens reached the milestone in 2003, Greg Maddux in 2004, Tom Glavine in 2007, and Johnson in 2009. In the 30 years since Perry's win, ten pitchers reached the 300-win milestone. Only two pitchers joined the club in the 30 years before Perry: Wynn and Warren Spahn, in 1961. People think that the 300 win club is going the way of the dodo, and that it's a milestone for the old timers, but more people have reached 300 wins in the last 30 years (10) than the first 30 years of the 300-win club (nine*.) And while Moyer and Pettitte's run for 300 may fall short, there are still plenty of candidates with a more than decent shot at 300, namely Roy Halladay and C.C. Sabathia. So no, the 300 win milestone will probably remain relevant for a long time.
*The nine are James Francis "Pud" Galvin in 1888, Timothy John Keefe and Michael Francis "Mickey" Welch in 1890, Charles Gardner "Old Hoss" Radbourn in 1891, John Gibson Clarkson in 1892, Charles Augustus "Kid" Nichols in 1900, Denton True "Cy" Young in 1901, Christopher Mathewson in 1912, and Edward Stewart "Eddie" Plank in 1915.
Hopefully the Best Animated Short Oscar will remain relevant for just as long as well.
The Great Cognito
*Vinton was also responsible for creating the Red and Yellow M&M candy characters in 1995. He also has a wicked mustache.
Where Can I Watch It?
When the Wind Blows). Of course, it's also possible that Briggs himself was inspired by the song. Anyways, if you've never seen it, you can probably guess by now that the Snowman comes to life. An excited James spends the first half of the film showing his new friend around the house. He takes him to the living room and the kitchen and his parents' room before going on a motorcycle ride around the forest. Then the Snowman takes a boy on another adventure, flying through the air before ending up at the party of Father Christmas. It's a very sweet film, although the pacing is somewhat slow, and I found myself getting kind of bored, especially during the flying scenes. The animation is brilliant, done throughout in an animation style involving crayons and colored pencils that captures the warmth and liveliness of Briggs's original drawings. The film is mostly wordless, supported by the actions on screen and Howard Blake's score, except for the song Walking In the Air during the flying scene. The song, sung by a British choirboy named James Auty, is nice, but I'm personally not a fan. The ending of the film has become as famous as the film itself. I'm not going to spoil it, but it is very powerful. It's a very fitting end, and I feel it really helps to elevate this film to the classic that it is today.
Where Can I Watch It?
Where Can I Watch It?
Well, here we go. We got three great films, but which one comes out on top? The Great Cognito was a good film, but it wasn't one of Vinton's greatest, and it doesn't stand out in this crowd. The Snowman is a beloved holiday classic, and it's probably the film that the most people have seen. While it's a great film (buoyed by the terrific ending), I wasn't a big fan of its slow pacing. I still think Tango comes out on top. It is just a brilliant film, ambitious in its scope and perfect in its execution. The Academy agreed with the choice, one of the few times that's happened. However, Rybczynski didn't have the greatest night on Oscar night. His name was butchered by presenter Kristy McNichol, and his speech was cut short, which was all captured in a YouTube video that featured that Oscar night (but was tragically removed.) However, not even YouTube captured what happened next.
According to IMDb: "After talking to reporters in the press room, Rybczynski stepped outside the auditorium to have a cigarette. When he tried to return, an overzealous security guard refused to let him in. Rybczynski was holding his Oscar, but was dressed in a cheap suit and sneakers because he had been unable to afford better clothes. He tried to explain to the guard that he was an Oscar winner, but his English was limited. Hearing Rybczynski's Polish speech, the security guard assumed the director was drunk and shoved him up against a wall. During the altercation, Rybczynski reportedly yelled, "American Pig! I have Oscar!" and tried to kick the guard in the groin. Rybczynski spent the night in jail before the mess was sorted out." Yep, that's why everybody should quit smoking!
My rankings (by quality and preference)
Tango > The Snowman > The Great Cognito
Well, that's another decade down! We'll have another one of those special countdown posts for the films of 1982-1991! Hooray!