Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Looking forward to Finding Nemo

Apple Computer cofounder Steve Jobs has an almost unique position in California. He is the only person who has managed to be both a Silicon valley mogul and a Hollywood mogul simultaneously with any level of success. Sure, there have been other companies that have attempted to play successfully in both markets, but it has generally ended in tears, or at least unhappiness. Steve Jobs is not Bill Gates, but Apple is still here after 25 years, and given that people have been predicting the company's imminent demise since 1979, that is no small achievement. And the film studio he owns, Pixar Animation Studios, is the finest producer of animated films for Hollywood by far.

I have written about Pixar before, but their record remains perfect. The have made four feature films (that have been distributed by Disney): Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, and Monsters Inc.. All four have been enormous hits, and critical favourites. By the standards of the film industry, four from four is extremely unusual, and this success has come at the same time as things at Disney's traditional animation business have gone badly wrong.

Pixar have a new film, Finding Nemo due to be released in the US at the end of next week. This has been less anticipated than their previous films, for an interesting reason. Their next film after this one is going to be The Incredibles, to be released late next year. This is to be directed by Brad Bird, who in 1999 made The Iron Giant, based on Ted Hughes' childrens book The Iron Man, before being hired by Pixar after Warners did a terrible job of promoting it and it subsequently flopped at the box office. However, it is considered something of a masterpiece by many people, and Bird (who also created the characters of Krusty the Clown and Sideshow Bob on The Simpsons is widely considered to be a genius in the animation world.

Some film geeks will say that The Incredibles is the film they are most looking forward to of any to be released in the next few years. For this reason, the release of Finding Nemo next week has almost seemed a bit lacklustre, even though nobody has heard anything bad about it.

Finally, Finding Nemo is being shown to critics. The advance word on it is actually that it is great, and Pixar have done it again. The film will be another enormous hit. Given the amazing technical quality of Pixar's films, and the great storytelling sense of their filmmakers, this will be pleasing. Hopefully the film will finally win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature for Pixar. Although the award has been going for two years now and Pixar are by far the best American studio making animated films, circumstances have meant they are yet to win. Surely for this year they will. And if The Incredibles is as good as everybody hopes, they will again for next year. This would only be fair.

Update: This review at the Chicago Tribune agrees with me about the golden age. And in fact, Finding Nemo seems to be the best reviewed film of the year, or close to it. (I can't think of anything else this well reviewed. Can anyone else?)

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