Directors Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco deliberately set their prehistoric pic in the “Croodacious” time period, allowing the DreamWorks Animation team to open their imaginations and create something fresh and new, yet still familiar.
“We had to invent everything,” says
DeMicco, like the crazy flora and fauna that could be benign but also may want to make an afternoon snack of a caveman — or woman. The story about a caveman family is funny and full of adventure but also surprisingly touching — the directors give a lot of credit to Nicolas Cage, who became the heart and soul of the film as the caveman patriarch Grug.
“Despicable Me 2”
The only sequel of the nominated animated films, “Despicable Me 2” successfully introduced another character, Lucy (Kristen Wiig), and put the focus on Gru (Steve Carell), his budding relationship with Lucy and the way he deals with his daughters, who are growing up and developing new interests (boys). The Minions are also given even more screen time and are funnier than ever. With $964 million in worldwide box office, “DM2” outran its mega-hit predecessor, “Despicable Me,” which raked in $543 million worldwide. Directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin were thrown a curveball six weeks before wrap when Al Pacino, who had voiced the pic’s villain Eduardo, pulled out; he was replaced by a Benjamin Bratt with nary a hiccup.
“Ernest & Celestine”
A 2D toon produced by Les Armateurs, the outfit behind Oscar-nommed “The Triplets of Belleville” and “The Secret of Kells,” “Ernest & Celestine” is inspired by the charming book series by Belgian writer Gabrielle Vincent. Benjamin Renner, Vincent Patar and Stephane Aubier handled direction duties and the pic bowed last year in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight, where it won a special mention. Story turns on the friendship between Celestine, a mouse, and Ernest, a bear. GKids is distributing the pic in the U.S.
“The Wind Rises”
The last film in the oeuvre of Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki tells the story of Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of the A6M (Zero) plane, with Miyazaki’s signature flights of fancy and gorgeous visuals in a tale of Japan between the two world wars. The film was a controversial one in Japan, as it was regarded in some quarters as too anti-war, but it still went on to gross $120 million at the Nipponese box office, where it will rank as this year’s top movie. Shortly after the film had its international premiere at the Venice festival in September, Miyazaki, 72, announced his retirement. The English-language version of the film, starring the voices of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt, will be released by Disney on Feb. 21. Miyazaki has been nominated for the animated feature Oscar twice before, in 2002 for “Spirited Away,” for which he won, and in 2005, for “Howl’s Moving Castle.”