The Oscars: To Animation and Beyond
The stakes seem much higher for this year's best animated feature Oscar race, what with Toy Story 3 becoming the medium's first billion-dollar grosser and Disney aggressively pushing for the best picture Holy Grail -- and How to Train Your Dragon breathing down its neck every step of the way. And let's not forget how Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist outmuscled both Despicable Me and Tangled for the third nomination. These really are the most ambitious stories with rich themes that rival their live-action counterparts.
Why, Dragon's Dean Deblois was thrilled to sit at the same table with Christopher Nolan and talk shop at Monday's Oscar nominee's lunch. "It just takes a current movie that people like for you to be in there," he says. "They can't ignore us any more now that animation is getting critical praise but also dominating box office. It's kind of hard to shove us off to the kid's table now, as it were. I've met all of the best director nominees and was able to talk to Christopher Nolan a little bit more today. But I do know that Darren Aronofsky is a real fan and wanted me to meet his producer. I met Harvey Weinstein and I was shocked when he said I love your movie."
But the best result of Dragon's success, according to Deblois, has been in expanding the DreamWorks palette. "If it had fizzled or failed critically, I think it would've closed the door to the fantasy/action-adventure that's light on comedy and mines heartfelt moments out of something that feels a little more classical. Now, with Dragon 2, which I'm directing, my focus has been creating a much larger coming of age story. Since we end with the Vikings riding on the backs of the dragons, so the world expands exponentially right off the bat."