Graham Annable TheBoxtrolls
Key moment of inspiration: Snatcher’s huge tongue in the foreground. We could have shot the sequence of Snatcher eating the cheese numerous ways but both Tony and I felt very inspired to get right up close and showcase what a gross and fun moment it could be. Toughest challenge in making the movie: The toughest challenge by far was the dance sequence. Tony and I had no idea how much this sequence would push every department to its maximum. It took all 18 months of our shooting schedule to create a little less than two minutes of actual dance footage. Pivotal scene: Eggs and Winnie having an important yet quiet conversation about fathers in the nook. This sequence is such an understated beautiful character moment. It felt so pivotal to me because it allowed the movie to breathe and give it true heart. On the state of the animation business: There is so much animation in the world right now that I think we live in an incredible time for this industry.
Studio: Animal Logic, Warner Bros. Distributor: WB Directors: Phil Lord, Chris Miller Release Date: Feb. 7 Box Office: $468.1m ($257.8m) Synopsis: Mild-mannered minifig Emmet’s well-ordered but lonely life is turned upside down when he discovers a legendary missing piece and is taken in by a group of renegade Master Builders bent on saving the LEGO worlds from the evil President Business and his sinister superweapon. The Odds: The highest-grossing animated film of the year also conquered critics, becoming the movie of early 2014. The creative CG take on the building power of LEGO bricks was visually stunning, and Lord and Miller upheld their rep for eye-watering comedy. Studio: DreamWorks Animation Distributor: Fox Director: Rob Minkoff Release Date: March 7 Box Office: $272.9m ($111.5) Synopsis: Genius canine Mr. Peabody, his boy, Sherman, and rival classmate Penny get caught up in a whirlwind romp through history in the WABAC machine after a joyride to ancient times goes wrong — with dire consequences for the space-time continuum. Pros & Cons: The popularity of Jay Ward’s interstitial toon stars of the mid-20th century drew audiences to this CG update, but critics gave the film a lukewarm reception. Some got into the spirit of the off-kilter adventure, while others felt the story got off to a slow start and was more saccharine than its short-format inspiration.
Studio: Reel FX Distributor: Fox Director: Jorge Gutierrez Release Date: Oct. 17 Box Office: $26.2m ($17.8m) Synopsis: Inspired by Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration, this colorful adventure follows dreamer Manolo and his rival in love, a haughty town hero named Joaquin, as they journey through magical other worlds after two powerful gods make a wager on which of them will win the love of beautiful Maria. Pros & Cons: Critics overwhelmingly lauded the film’s vibrant, intricate CG animation. And while it is a big step forward from Reel FX’s debut feature, Free Birds, some found the story and dialog failing to measure up. Studio: Studio Ghibli Distributor: GKIDS Director: Isao Takahata Release Date: Oct. 17 (limited) Box Office: $24.6m (Japan) Synopsis: Adapted from Japanese folk tale “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter,” Kaguya centers on a tiny girl discovered in a shining stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter and his wife. The girl rapidly grows into an exquisite young lady who enthralls all who encounter her — but ultimately she must confront her otherworldly fate. Pros & Cons: Takahata has not helmed a film in years, but he is anything but rusty. The film’s achingly beautiful watercolor and ink-style animation and expertly adapted story have already earned it a nomination for the coveted Japan Academy Prize for animation, and Western critics are jumping on the bandwagon.
Studio: Cartoon Saloon Distributor: GKIDS Director: Tomm Moore Release Date: Dec. 19 (limited) Synopsis: Inspired by old Irish folk legends of the Selkies — magical beings who are human on land but take the form of seals in the water — this indie centers on young Ben and his little sister Saoirse, who is mute. When their distraught widower father sends them to live in the city, they must find their way home and discover how to bring their mother’s legacy to life with Saoirse’s special gifts and a magic flute. Pros & Cons: Moore’s long-awaited follow up to the Oscar nominated The Secret of Kells is garnering positive early reviews for its gorgeous artwork, nuanced characters and delicate balance of real world emotion and old world fantasy.
[Box office figures as of 10/21 sourced from Box Office Mojo] Studio: EuropaCorp Distributor: Shout! Factory Directors: Mathias Malzieu, Stéphane Berla Release Date: Feb. 5 (France), Sept. 24 (U.S.) Box Office: $3.4m Synopsis: Jack is born on the coldest day of the year, the temperature stopping his heart. A clever midwife revives him with a clockwork heart, but in order to survive he must learn to control his emotions — something that proves difficult when he falls in love with a young street musician. Pros & Cons: Malzieu’s adaptation of his novel and concept album has had audience eyeballs popping all over the globe with its haunting CG design and fantastical plot. But those accustomed to U.S. blockbusters may struggle with the very Euro approach to storytelling.