Disney's 'Paperman': an early favorite for the Best Animated Short Oscar?

Posted by · 7:14 pm · November 3rd, 2012

The truth is something on the fringe is likely to win the Best Animated Short Oscar this year. “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” over “La Luna,” “The Lost Thing” over “Day & Night,” “Logorama” over “A Matter of Loaf and Death,” “The Danish Poet” over “The Little Matchgirl” — it happens. A lot.

That having been said, Disney’s “Paperman,” a delicate little love story that’s greeting viewers of “Wreck-It Ralph” this weekend, is generating plenty of love and goodwill. It’s a blend of hand-drawn 2D animation and 3D CG artwork. “The characters are modeled in CG and rendered in high contrast to create the modeling and shading, then merged with hand-drawn linework using a proprietary software program called Meander to create the final result,” Jim MacQuarrie explains in a Wired piece, which also features an interview with the film’s producer, Kristina Reed. “It looks like traditional ‘classic’ animation but with a sense of solidity and volume that”s more common to CG films.” So maybe there’s enough technical meat on its bones to grab the branch’s collective brain in addition to its heart.

Over at Cartoon Brew, the film’s director, John Kahrs, explains, “After ‘Tangled’ ended, they had a gap between the ending of that film and the beginning of production on ‘Wreck-It Ralph.’ Management was wondering: ‘Is there anything around to push the technology? Anything that we have that”s going to fill the space between films, to utilize as much of the crew as possible?’ I had ideas about maybe doing a bit of animation that involved 2D and 3D together. So I just pitched it and they were like: ‘Ok, let”s try this.’ But they didn”t really know how far we were going to take it technologically.”

So obviously they’re banging that drum pretty hard.

It’s entirely possible Disney manages three Best Animated Feature Film nominations this year (for “Brave,” “Frankenweenie” and “Wreck-It Ralph”), and to that point, two of them are in-house productions that could win the big prize. All three could, in fact. So there could be a whiff of appreciation in the air. At least there should be. Believe it or not, no in-house Disney animated effort has won the feature prize yet. And only “Lilo & Stitch,” “Treasure Planet,” “Brother Bear,” “Bolt” and “The Princess and the Frog” have received nominations.

I thought “Paperman” was an absolute delight and I kind of wish I had seen it in 3D (my screening of “Wreck-It Ralph” was 2D, and the feature doesn’t really need the added effect). Whether it does well with the Oscars, we’ll have to wait and see, but for now, it’s a lovely Fall pleasure.

“Wreck-It Ralph” is now playing everywhere.

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