Voices From Out­side

Over­seas stu­dios make a strong case for Os­car in­clu­sion

Variety - - Contenders - BY ELLEN WOLFF

SINCE BIG- BUD­GET CG fea­tures have been so in­flu­en­tial, it’s some­times hard to hear the out­side voices that vie for at­ten­tion dur­ing awards sea­son. Gkids reg­u­larly re­minds us that hand- drawn an­i­ma­tion con­tin­ues to at­tract Os­car nom­i­na­tions — for such Ir­ish films as “The Se­cret of Kells”; French of­fer­ings, in­clud­ing “Ernest and Ce­les­tine,” and great ti­tles from Ja­pan’s leg­endary Stu­dio Ghi­bli.

This year, Gkids is high­light­ing two Ja­panese 2D films, the sweet-tem­pered fam­ily tale “Mi­rai” and the sur­real “Lu Over the Wall.” And Sony Pic­tures Clas­sics is tout­ing the Hun­gar­ian indie film “Ruben Brandt, Col­lec­tor,” which def­i­nitely il­lus­trates the idea that an­i­ma­tion isn’t just for kids.

Of course, cul­tural sen­si­bil­i­ties al­ways fac­tor into the equa­tion. Il­lu­mi­na­tion En­ter­tain­ment may be head­quar­tered in Cal­i­for­nia, but its main an­i­ma­tion crew is based at Mac Guff in France. That pre­sented an in­ter­est­ing chal­lenge when Il­lu­mi­na­tion was mak­ing “The Grinch,” since the Seuss book plays lib­er­ally with the English lan­guage.

“Amer­i­cans grew up with the Seuss books, but that’s not the case in France,” says co- di­rec­tor Yar­row Cheney. “When we did ‘The Lo­rax’ [in 2012], it was the first in­tro­duc­tion to Dr. Seuss for many peo­ple at our stu­dio.”

For­tu­nately, Il­lu­mi­na­tion landed Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch to voice the Grinch and he was well aware of the book.

Co- di­rec­tor Scott Mosier, who over­saw the record­ing of Cum­ber­batch’s voice per­for­mance in Lon­don, says, “We were able to bring Bene­dict in early, and he did the heavy lift­ing to be­come the char­ac­ter.”

Bri­tain was also where Wes An­der­son’s stop-mo­tion crew an­i­mated “Isle of Dogs,”

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