Thoughts on… Worst Oscar Snubs

The Oscars have crowned 87 films as the “Best Pictures” of their respective years. Some years have been incredibly strong and others relatively weak – 1975 features classics One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Jaws, while 2000’s main attraction was the less-than-stellar Gladiator – which means that the Best Picture label isn’t always indicative of cinematic quality. The Best Picture from one year may be wholly inferior to the second or even third best film of another year, and in many cases that’s true. There are also glaring inconsistencies and mistakes even within single years. Films with old, white people shedding racism or phobias or stuffy period dramas play to the Oscar voters and rake in the votes sometimes over superior films that might just be too edgy or critical for voters. We have some personal examples of poor Best Picture decisions (Silver Linings Playbook was better than Argo, Wolf of Wall Street was better than 12 Years a Slave, and The Dark Knight was better than Slumdog Millionaire to name a few) but those are relatively close and Vig is limiting me to just 5 cases and an honorable mention. So, here are Vig’s and my top 5 examples of when the Academy Award for Best Picture did not go to the best movie. ~Will

Honorable Mention

Citizen Kane loses to How Green Was My Valley 

Goodfellas loses to Dances with Wolves

Taxi Driver loses to Rocky

Apocalypse Now loses to Kramer vs Kramer

Number 5

Star Wars loses to Annie Hall

Star Wars is one of the most beloved, iconic films of all time. The upcoming sequel is the most heavily anticipated movie since the last installment in the Harry Potter series. It may be the most anticipated film of all time, sequel or not. My point is, the Star Wars series is so beloved because the original is awesome. It would be a deserving Best Picture film most years, including 1977. That being said, I am a huge Annie Hall film. It pains me to include this film on the list. I find the movie hilarious, charming, and straight-up entertaining. However, for the love of what is good and true, I couldn’t ignore this snub, as much as it hurts me to say so. Love both films, but it’s clear to anyone with some good sense that Star Wars is superior.

Pan’s Labyrinth loses to The Departed

I love The Departed. It’s one of my favorite movies, and in many other years it would deserve Best Picture. It’s gritty, dark, thrilling, and features great performances from a fantastic cast including Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jack Nicholson. It also has a killer soundtrack, as many Scorsese movies do. Pan’s Labyrinth, though, is better. It’s spellbinding, innovative, gloriously creative, and also reflective of a period of upheaval and suffering in Spain. It contrasts childhood imagination with tyranny in what is one of my absolute favorite movies of all time. I can’t fathom the fact that it wasn’t even nominated. The only silver lining is that The Departed, another great movie, won.

Number 4

Apocalypse Now loses to Kramer vs Kramer

Francis Ford Coppola is legendary director, one of the greatest of all time, no doubt about it. Apocalypse Now was the 4th and final film in a string of masterpieces that he put together. It’s also, in my opinion, the most moving. It has so much depth, a beautifully crafted story, and stunning acting by Marlin Brando and Martin Sheen (even if Brando was apparently a huge pain to work with). Kramer vs Kramer, on the other hand, is a very good film and features Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman at their very best, a combination that is tough to beat. That being said, it is no where near as poignant and well-crafted as Apocalypse Now, which is about a good a film as you’ll ever see. 

The Shawshank Redemption Should Have Beaten Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump is widely cherished, especially by many of my friends. Every time I say I dislike it they chastise me for it and insult my movie tastes. Forrest Gump took one of the most complicated, complex, and important periods in American history and boiled it down to single-take shenanigans and the idea that everyone, with just the right amount of belief, can achieve anything! How marvelous! Meanwhile, The Shawshank Redemption uses actual drama and character work to create inspiration. I’m not the world’s biggest Pulp Fiction fan, but I would gladly have seen it beat Forrest Gump as well. Tom Hanks shouldn’t have won Best Actor either. Let the hate commence.

Number 3

Fargo loses to The English Patient

This is my favorite Coen Brothers film, and its not even close. It is darkly comical and super interesting. The universe has an incredibly realistic feel to it all, but is perfectly countered with a surreal plotline. Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, and Steve Buscemi are all awesome, giving the movie a trio of very different, but interesting characters. On the other hand, The English Patient is… boring. It’s dangerously drury, to put it simply. Ralph Fiennes is pretty good, but besides that, The English Patient isn’t even comparable to Fargo. I guess putting a human being through a wood-chipper is too much for the notoriously conservative Academy voters.

Goodfellas Should Have Beaten Dances With Wolves

Martin Scorsese’s films are on this list three times. Twice his films were robbed, and once, with The Departed, he lucked out. Goodfellas is one of my favorite movies of all time, and rightly so. It’s thrilling, despite its long run-time, and it features great performances from Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, and Robert De Niro. Dances With Wolves, on the other hand, is insipid, dry, and bloated. It’s another Oscar movie where white people shed their prejudices. Yay! Frankly, the two movies aren’t even in the same league. Dances with Wolves is playing tee-ball while Goodfellas is playing ball in October.

Number 2

Taxi Driver loses to Rocky

Rocky is an iconic film, don’t get me wrong. It is the ultimate underdog film, and so many of its scenes, lines, and moments have been etched in movie history. That being said, it is not even close to being the best film that year. In fact, its probably the third best film, Network being the second best. Taxi Driver, on the other hand, is one of the greatest films of all time. It is probably my favorite Scorsese film. It is gritty, intriguing, and strikingly original. Robert DeNiro delivers one of his best performances, an electric albeit haunting turn as a psychopath taxi driver. Not only is this film entertaining, but it’s symbolic. A lot more than Rocky, in my humble opinion.

Saving Private Ryan loses to Shakespeare in Love

Seriously? Shakespeare in Love is so melodramatic. Maybe I’m not “sophisticated enough to understand its significance” as I’ve been told a number of times. In my opinion, I’m not pretentious and enough to care. The first 20 minutes alone of Saving Private Ryan are more than enough to trounce Shakespeare in Love and send it back to the pompous place whence it came (see, I can write like with histrionics too!). Saving Private Ryan is the ultimate war film, detailing the emotional and physical toll of battle while still developing its memorable and complex cast of characters.

Number 1

Saving Private Ryan loses to Shakespeare in Love

Oh man, don’t even get me started on this one. This is the most atrocious snub in the history of the academy. I don’t know how the hell the Academy screwed this one up, especially considering that this film fits perfectly within the Best Picture mold. And unlike a lot of winners, it’s actually good too! It is Spielberg at his best, Hanks at his best, and Damon at his best. Saving Private Ryan is emotional, realistic, and perhaps the greatest war film ever– and that’s saying something. Shakespeare in Love on the other hand is cute, but that’s about the most praise I can give it. It’s a sappy romance that is not even in the same realm of excellence. Congrats, Shakespeare in Love, you’re the most undeserving Oscar winner in history.

Star Wars loses to Annie Hall

It’s not that I hate Woody Allen. Sure, I’m skeeved out by some of the things he’s done in his personal life, but I actually quite like Midnight in Paris, another Allen film that stars Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, and Marion Cotillard. No, it’s not that I don’t like Woody Allen. It’s just that I don’t like Annie Hall. It’s boring, pretentious, and frankly annoying. Diane Keaton is great, and I like her character, but any scene with Woody Allen just grates on my nerves. Star Wars, on the other hand, is the space epic that spawned possibly the biggest entertainment franchise in the world. As a singular movie, which is how it was being judged by the Academy, it is vastly superior to Annie Hall. Star Wars is epic, entertaining, emotional, and innovative, four things that Annie Hall only pretends to be.

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Ant-Man

Up next is our take on Marvel’s next feature film, Ant-Man. Directed by Peyton Reed, and starring Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, and Evangeline Lily, this film is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence.

The next installment in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man, introduces us to Scott Lang (Rudd), an ex-con trying to care for his daughter. Dr. Hank Pym (Douglas), creator of a super suit called the Ant-Man suit, asks Lang to be his successor as the hero known as Ant-Man. Lang, at first reluctant, takes over the responsibilities, his first task fitting his niche: robbery.

7 out of 10

In recent years, American moviegoers have had urgent hunger pangs for comic book movies, and Marvel Studios is more than happy to serve move after action stuffed movie. Their recent release, Ant­Man, highlights the lesser known hero from his reintroduction into the world as an ex­-convict and eventually follows his journey to save the world. Scott Lang is the unassuming hero who teams up with scientist Henry Pym and uses Pym’s shrinking technology to become the Ant­-Man and avert imminent global destruction at the hands of insect sized weaponry.

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As all superhero movies carry out, the protagonist must become accustomed to his/her newly acquired powers and then fight overwhelming odds to save the world and their loved ones whom the villain has placed in mortal peril. From Spiderman to Iron Man, and finally to this latest installment, the same pathway of events dictates Marvel’s feature films and you would think we are all sick of the repetition. But the box office says otherwise­ and for that matter so do I. The painfully predictable screenplay is no new curveball, but how can any audience member be too critical of the entertaining action adventure flick? It has fist fights, high speed chases, guns, rockets, and explosions that blow up both the enemies and your mind. Only the most crotchety, grumpy, pouty old man would refuse to enjoy a fun movie like this one.

Marvel did a good job creating the miniature world of Ant­-Man; the enormous bathtub that Scott first finds himself was a fun perspective. Special effects and CGI animations certainly lent a hand towards the world of the insect sized hero as he runs through ant tunnels, ventilation shafts, and even keyholes. However some stunts in this movie were leaning towards being too ridiculous to appreciate, including the large, winged ant that became Scott’s trusty flying steed, and the clever but silly means of their breaking and entering that included titanic references and floating rafts built from ants. But when all said and done, Ant-­Man certainly boasted fun and exciting scenes; however, the humorous personality that Marvel wrote in was perhaps my favorite aspect of the movie.

antman 4

Similar to what I enjoyed in Guardians of the Galaxy, there was a slight carefree and self-teasing tone that Ant-­Man showcased; proof that director Peyton Reed was still willing to poke fun at the absurdity of a tiny hero. The A-list actors all brought along their own sense of light and dark humour, with Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, Michael Douglas as the infamous and somewhat mysterious Henry Pym, and Corey Stoll playing Darren Cross, a brilliant but power obsessed scientist the main ANTagonist… (Heh). The whole cast partakes in the funny, sarcastic tone of the movie that brings a necessary and humorous air to the film. Douglas’s witty chides and ironic jokes towards the under qualified and overwhelmed Paul Rudd reminded the viewer of the silliness when the plot line began to intensify.

Ant­-Man is not my favorite superhero movie and it seems somewhat unjust to call it in itself a “great” movie, but the new take on a Marvel film does not go unappreciated. Good acting and funny interludes appropriately accented the insect hero movie, and although the plot could get tedious given the theme of ants, the action remained fun and engaging, while the slightly self-deprecating tone enables this feature to soar into the box offices and even into my happy  memories as a fun night out with friends.
~Simon

6 out of 10

Since the exhaustion of all superheroes is sadly (or not, depending on how you see it) within realm of possibility these days, Marvel is now tasked with taking some of the comics’ spacier ideas and crunching them down to realistic, bite-size editions for audiences.

A thunder god? No problem. A frozen Captain America from the 40’s? Sure thing. That weird team of space outcasts with the tree and the talking raccoon? Surprisingly, that one turned out fine.

Marvel's Ant-Man..Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd)..Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..? Marvel 2014

But they’ve hit a bit of a snag with “the guy who can shrink and talk to ants” it seems. It’s a tough sell. Marvel used to escape with less stupid than cool (The latter usually negates the former) but now Ant Man has presented a noticeable uptick in goofiness. By the time I walked out of this, I was shaking my head and confirmed the stupidity of it all with my friends,
in fact.

I was still laughing though and that counts for something. While there was a lot (and I mean a lot) of suspension of disbelief required, I can’t help but feel the movie’s aware of a lot of its ridiculousness and it toys with it from scene to scene. This is Marvel after all and it’s junk food. As long as you know you’re paying for junk food by now, you should be fine.

The sheer wackiness of Scott Lang (played by an A-game Paul Rudd) and his funsized misadventures is also galvanized by the Marvel Universe stuff that plays out in the background of the film. We’ve established Disney and the Marvel Cinematic Universe are great at table setting and, voila, its larger story has become a safety net for any of the film at hand’s shortcomings (I can always leave one Marvel film excited for the next regardless of what the center stage character delivers). This is the beginning of the third wave (or “phase”) of the Marvel Universe and it’s the first to kick off without a major hero lead; for the most part, it does a solid enough job.

antman 1

There are also just some pretty cool, creative scenes where Rudd’s character learns the ropes of (nearly) being an Avenger. They definitely have fun with the shrinking and growing powers of his suit and, for what it’s worth, they do actually make some of the more outlandish powers easy to swallow and interesting.

The villain is pretty forgettable but over the top, goofy and fun enough (Same for the sideline characters). Villains do tend to be the soft spot for the dear MCU and Ant Man sadly isn’t an exception. It looks like Loki is gonna keep his throne as the best Marvel antagonist on the block for a while longer.

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Was this movie more evidence that Marvel is phoning in a formula of cheeky jokes and references to smooth over stupidity? Maybe but I’ve been anxious about that as a fan for a while now. I’m still not quite tired of it yet and neither is the viewing public it seems. People are starting to notice it though and that could maybe spell a bit of trouble for our superhero framers and their investors in a good few years.

(I still never tire of some good SHIELD drama though).
~Zach

Thoughts on… Pixar

Hello all! After the recent release of Inside Out, Pixar’s latest feature film, we are taking this opportunity to rank all 15 of Pixar’s feature films.

Number 15

Cars 2
What a train wreck. Cars 2 is, in essence, a sequel to a film that didn’t need a sequel. The first one had some redeemable traits, but Cars 2… It was a spy film. Need I say anything more?

Cars 2
Pixar was unstoppable before this. They were ready to conquer the world practically and what do they cough up? A sequel….to their weakest film at the time. Oh, and it’s a spy movie for some reason.

Number 14

Monsters University
Off to a good start with the sequels, I see. Monsters University really wasn’t a bad film, but it lacked the charm that its vastly superior predecessor had. plus, why did we have to know Sully was a bully? Automatic childhood ruiner. 

Brave
Cars 2 made us question whether a decline of Pixar was imminent and Brave kind of proved us wrong, I guess. There’s some real heart there at least; they weren’t just peddling out a clunky sequel a la early Dreamworks.

Number 13

A Bug’s Life
The problem with Bug’s Life is that it’s more forgettable than anything else. Nothing is bad, but nothing is great either. The characters are solid, the story is solid, the plot is solid, but nothing is outstanding. 

Monsters University
Monsters U was fun in the moment but then somebody had to point out its gaping flaw to me: it’s an 80’s college movie. A pretty predictable one. Why? Was there not enough digging left in the world of infinitely unique and colorful monsters?

Number 12

Brave
Brave temporarily put the whole Pixar-collapse panic to a pause. I’ll emphasize temporarily. Again, it was a solid entry for a company that has had a number of outstanding films, which is why it was ranked so low, but there isn’t anything fundamentally wrong with Brave. It’s a meaningful, enjoyable film, but lacks the depth of Pixar’s more successful feature films. 

Cars
This one has a nostalgia boost going for it (I owned all of the little toy cars of the characters) but I definitely see most of its flaws now. It’s predictable and kind of half baked. It feels like they wanted to make a world of cars but could only find a few good visual gags and a half a plot along the way. Aside from that though, the animation’s pretty nice and so is the acting so it’s certainly not unwatchable.

Number 11

Cars
And onto the last of what I feel are the second tier of Pixar films. Cars has sentiment and a good message. Mix that with the fact that there are talking cars, it has become one of Pixar’s most marketable films. Doesn’t make it it’s best… No, Mater kind of prevents that from happening. 

A Bug’s Life
Yet another nostalgia boost here (it was my first Pixar movie ever) but it’s actually creative and bolstered by its great animation. Aside from that, yeah, it visits the usual “liar revealed” checkpoints that are pretty tired. But the characters are memorable and the world is fun enough in its own right.

Number 10

Ratatouille
I was extremely surprised when I saw myself ranking this at number 10. It really is an astounding film. The animation is great, the story is charming, and the characters are very likeable. Remy the rat is one of my all time favorite Pixar characters. I guess it just ends up so low because, well, Pixar is great.  

Wall-E
The first half of Wall-E (The mostly silent one) is excellent; the second half is pretty good. I fell in love the creativity of the film and it has a really strong but silent lead. The second half has an environmentalist message that comes off a little hamfisted but certainly doesn’t ruin anything.

Number 9

Toy Story 2
Toy Story 2 was a incredibly solid film- it touched the heart equally as much as both its predecessor and its sequel. It introduced some great characters and had an intriguing plot finished with a great finish. That being said, it just wasn’t quite as memorable as either the first of the third, in my opinion. Still a great film. 

Toy Story
People were stunned by this when it first came out and rightfully so. In hindsight, it was the first movie of its kind and it still really stands up. The characters bounce off eachother nicely, the plot is original and there’s just enough emotion injected throughout. What more could you ask for from our friends at Pixar?

Number 8

Monsters Inc
I have a weird relationship with Monsters Inc. It’s probably the Pixar film I’ve seen the most, which has contributed to it being a bit stale. But then again, it’s Monsters Inc., and it’s freaking awesome. Mike Wazowski = God

Monsters Inc.
I was tempted to switch this with the first Toy Story a few times but a few factors led me not to: John Goodman and Billy Crystal. And Steve Buscemi. I rest my case with no regret.

Number 7

Finding Nemo
You would be lying if you said that you didn’t cry during Finding Nemo. Not only is it emotional, its charming and full of great moments. The thing about Finding Nemo is that it is probably the story that is most universally applicable, which makes it so memorable. That and “just keep swimming!” have made this film one of Pixar’s most popular films.

Finding Nemo
Finding Nemo was the most emotional Pixar feature until Toy Story 3 arrived and it still is one of the most effective for me. It’s simply about a dad, his son and all of the fish in between and that works for me. Nemo is also one of the installments that neatly displays Pixar’s talent with research and realism when it comes to its animation. Go to an aquarium and you’ll still hear a kid shout “Dory!” or “Nemo!”.

Number 6

WALL-E
WALL-E is an interesting film. I was rather turned off by the silence for the first half of the film, which put me in a bad mood for the rest of the film. That being said, I was younger and less appreciative of film in general. I can acknowledge that WALL-E has strong characters, great animation, and actually a really important message. Most people would rank it as Pixar’s best, but for now I’m putting it at 6. I should really re-watch this movie… 

Toy Story 3
Most would put this at the top of the list and I definitely see why. It’s hard-hitting, it’s real and it’s the experience of seeing the characters you saw over a decade ago come back to life perfectly. That’s all amazing but my gut still finds this threequel to be a tad too hard to watch. The daycare’s a little too mean of a place for me and there’s less humor to balance all the darker things out. However, I still loved this one and yes, that ending did me in too. You have no heart if it doesn’t do the same to you as well.

Number 5

Inside Out
Seeing this film was such a relief for me. It meant that Pixar was truly just going through a rough patch (though now that I think about it, we both are kind of exaggerating. It was only like two years). Anyhow, this film is incredibly entertaining, very creative, and delivers a poignant family message that may or may not have made me cry. 

Inside Out
Yay! Pixar’s back! I was so relieved when I saw the reviews rush in for this one. Inside Out has the makings of a classic Pixar film with really memorable characters, a pitch perfect balance of emotions (tee-hee) and a lot of fun. Sequel worthy? Maybe. I’d like a few more go-arounds with this one before I give a definitive answer though.

Number 4

Toy Story
Pixar’s first film is also one of its greatest. It was innovative, being that it had such incredible animation in a time where animation wasn’t huge. It was interesting, thanks to the characters mixing so well (Tim Allen and Tom Hanks are awesome). Toy Story was the start of something great for Pixar. Fun fact: it’s on the AFI Top 100 films list, which is pretty cool. 

Ratatouille
Ratatouille is great to me. I’m no Francophile and I’ve never been to Paris but it’s such a perfect backdrop for the story. The research shines through once more, the actors give it their all and Pixar works magic again with its animation. The critic’s speech towards the end and the accompanying montage? Yeah, that cemented its place on this list and several other more important ones probably.

Number 3

Up
I feel like Up is one of the most talked about Pixar films. Probably because its relatively new, having been released in 2009. And probably because it’s pretty awesome. The first ten minutes are maybe the saddest ten minutes of a film I’ve ever seen, but also some of the best. However, its not all sad; there is some great humor and adventure that makes Up a nearly perfect film.  

Up
This is where we get into “perfect movie” territory. No more complaints. The first ten minutes of Up could stand alone as its own film and wreck the Academy Awards. The remainder is just a rollercoaster of emotions and an imaginative story that really does convince me that adventure is, indeed, out there.

Number 2

Toy Story 3
There is much debate about which Toy Story film is the best one, and in my mind, there is no doubt that it is the third one. Maybe it is a little bit dark, but that doesn’t mean it lacks the charm and sentimentality that its predecessors does. I think it’s an incredible accomplishment to be able to release a sequel almost a decade later and not even skip a beat, and maybe even improve. I was 10 years older and able to appreciate how good it really is, putting it at number 2 on my list. 

The Incredibles
The Incredibles isn’t just a great animated superhero film, it’s a great superhero film. Arguably, one of the best. This is probably the most fun you can have at a Pixar movie. There’s a great villain, all-star set of heros and, in an era of participation medals and consolation prizes, a solid message on letting your talents flourish. Objectivist? Maybe, a little, yes. Whether you’re a Rand fan or not though, The Incredibles is one enjoyable ride.

Number 1

The Incredibles
Here we are, the number one spot on our list. The Incredibles is indubitably Pixar’s best film. It is a family drama, an action thriller, a superhero movie, a comedy, all mixed up in one. There’s great conflict, both inner and outer. Great protagonists. Great universe. If The Dark Knight wasn’t around, then I would say The Incredibles was the best superhero movie of all time. Plus it has Samuel L. Jackson

Toy Story 2
Toy Story 2 is Pixar. It is the Pixar film. It flawlessly probes into some deeper, darker waters but doesn’t forget to entertain and amuse a little. It expanded the universe of Pixar and just what it could delve into and how emotional it could get through, well, toys and how they felt about their future. In other words (forgive me here), it took it to infinity and beyond.

Inside Out

Hey everyone! This week we take a look at Pixar’s latest feature film, Inside Out. Starring Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, and Mindy Kaling, the film is rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action.

Inside Out takes a look at Riley, a teenage girl growing up, and the emotions- Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness- that control her. Life is good for Riley until her family suddenly uproots and moves to San Francisco. Riley has to leave everything behind, and her emotions have to adjust to a new life.

9 out of 10

As gut-wrenching as it is to say, Pixar has slipped these past couple years. With mediocre releases such as Monsters University and Cars 2, they lost the innovation and quality that a Pixar feature film has always had. However, Inside Out has brought them back to the high level that we’re used to seeing. Not only was the animation excellent, per usual, but the film featured exceptionally strong characters and a moving, innovative story.

inside out 1

Though it goes without saying that Pixar does a good job with the animation of their films, I was especially impressed here. The one thing that made this film so appealing was the incredibly intricate use of color, and the animation allowed that to pop. Not to mention, there was a scene in which the characters literally shifted to being two-dimensional, which was done really done. All the little details created by the animators were what allowed this movie to be so visually appealing. Props to them.

 If you want to get technical, then calling this film a road-trip would be appropriate. The two main characters, Joy and Sadness, played by Poehler and Smith respectively, find themselves miles away from their headquarters with a desperate need to get back. I found myself fighting for them to get back, probably with a greater sense of panic that they were. Every objective that they faced, I was as frustrated with. My point is, I was invested and along for the ride. Tears were indeed shed. The movie’s plot was unique like no other– I was astounded by the creativity of the entire thing. The premise was incredibly inventive; I mean, the emotions inside of our body actually being alive? Who comes up with that stuff?

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They did a very nice job on all the characters too. Amy Poehler and Phyllis Smith (Phyllis from The Office!) were on point and had really great chemistry. The supporting cast of Bill Hader, Lewis Black, and Mindy Kaling were hilarious and provided great support. Even more so, the way that each of the emotions were personified was incredibly well done. The characters were probably the most well executed aspect of this film, end to end.

The most powerful thing about the film was its deeper meaning. The whole connotation surrounding love and family was perfectly executed, especially as this film was able to recognize its audience. Slightly more mature kids, but still younger children. And even more impressively, though this film was not intended for angsty 17 year olds, it still hit hard. It featured a universal message that appeals to all age groups, and did it with perfect execution.

Now Inside Out did have minor flaws- at times it felt like they were desperate to add another obstacle for Joy and Sadness to encounter, undoubtedly making it feel a bit stretched. I’d say 5-10 minutes could be cut out without any of the important substance being lost. That being said, this can be easily forgiven. While it could have been shorter, those 5-10 minutes were still entertaining and well worth my time.

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When it gets down to it, Inside Out is one of my favorite films of the year so far. It is moving, charming, and an incredibly innovative film. Inside Out is definitely a film that will ultimately rank among Pixar’s bests, not to mention one that puts the studio back on track after 3 years of (relative) duds.
~Vig

9.0 out of 10

Inside Out has been widely heralded as a return to form for Pixar following the studio’s misfires with Cars, Cars 2, and Monsters University. The studio has pledged a number of sequels, including Finding Dory, Cars 3 (yikes), The Incredibles 2, and Toy Story 4, all set to be released in the coming years. But with Inside Out, Pixar proves that it still has the glorious creativity and originality that has defined it for more than a decade.

And yes, Inside Out is as inventive as a film can get. Many have chided it for following the perceived Pixar formula – what if _____ had feelings? – but Inside Out manages to find its own niche even within its classic mold. It takes an inventive look inside the mind of a young girl nearing her teenage years and introduces us to the feelings that, for better and for worse, control her emotions.

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It has all the winning energy, animation, and gags necessary to keep the attention of its younger target audience. The emotions are all gorgeously animated, the vocal work is fantastic, and the scenery is bright and full of action and adventure. Sequences with Bing Bong, the protagonist’s childhood imaginary friend, are dazzling and fully entertaining. The story is easy enough to follow, with potentially confusing plot structures thoroughly explained at the beginning of the movie in a way that doesn’t feel forced. The movie’s relatively short runtime ensures that it doesn’t overstay its welcome and bore its potentially fidgety young audience members.

Beyond that, though, Inside Out has all the deeper meaning that has come to characterize the upper echelon of Pixar films. It has plenty of puns and subtle word play (Anger’s head lights on fire because he’s a hothead, Sadness is shaped like a teardrop) and references and situations that will hit home only for audiences who have been through the emotional development Riley is beginning to experience. Inside Out also makes a real inquiry into hour our brains function and how our actions can be dictated by our emotions. We take rides on the train of thought, see memories fade into blackness, and see the struggle for control our emotions wage within our minds.

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The only place Inside Out loses some points is in its middle stages. The beginning of the movie, where we are introduced to the emotions and each has its hilarious moment in the spotlight, is absolutely amazing. The ending, where each finds its new, more complex role within Riley’s mind, is again absolutely amazing. In the middle though, it seems almost as if the director was looking for a way to extend the running time, and we were met with a number of seemingly meaningless plot details which, while entirely entertaining, were ultimately unnecessary for the conclusion of the story and had the sense of prolonging the natural course of the story.

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These minor hitches cannot undermine the sheer brilliance of Inside Out. It is simultaneously uproariously funny and heartbreakingly sad, blissfully slapstick and pensively subtle. It is a win for audiences of all ages and all but a guarantee for Best Animated Feature of the Year. Maybe it can even score a Best Picture nomination.
~Will