Imagine sitting in the famous theater of the Academy of Motion Pictures for a Panel Discussion. The audience cheers as the best animation directors step on stage. When I heard I would be attending the Oscar panel discussion I was overjoyed. I had been to the prominent Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts, and Sciences once before for the Student Oscars. There were intricately engraved pictures of the legendary Oscar awards on frosted glass to greet us. Inside there were press and filmmakers chatting and people setting up their cameras. My mom and my TV producer friend Stephanie Sullivan, cameraman Brandon Weiberg shot videos of me reporting and interviewing the directors.
Before the symposium, director Chris Sanders of How to Train Your Dragon rapidly drew me his version of Toothless. I was ecstatic! I now had splendid drawings from both directors, Dean and Chris. Dean drew me a dazzling drawing of Toothless previously this month at the Annie awards.
After a while we ate some scrumptious food at the reception while we waited for the directors of the nominated films to show up. My mom loved the salmon on a stick, while I enjoyed soft mozzarella cheese, savory basil, and tart cherry tomatoes on toothpicks.
Soon, we joined a group of journalists waiting to interview directors Dean Deblois (My great friend), Chris Sanders (Now my new good friend), and Lee Unkrich (my newest friend, director of Toy Story 3 whom I first saw at Disney D23 Expo in 2009). I learned many cool behind the scenes stories I never knew from the directors, such as the fact that it was the first ever computer animated movie for the co-directors of How to Train Your Dragon, and that director Lee Unkrich views all three movies of the Toy Story franchise as one big movie. It was a shame that theFrench director of the movie The Illusionist, Sylvain Chomet, could not make it.
Watch my director's interview below:
When it was time for the panel discussion, we hurried up the stairs. I had stuffed most of a cookie into my mouth since food was not allowed in the theater. The moderator was my good friend from Comic-Con, the well rounded and comical Tom Sito. The panel discussion was very interesting. There were clips of the best scenes from all the films. They allow you to relive the best moments from the films. Also, the filmmakers shared studio stories and insights, and Tom shared his spontaneous humor.
I got to also ask a question during the audience Q&A: “What advice do you have for aspiring animation directors, my age?” Everybody laughed loudly and cheered when I introduced myself as a 10-year-old film critic for the last time, because I told everyone I was turning 11 the next day on Feb 25! Director Dean DeBlois answered my question perfectly. He said that I am lucky to have such a great, dedicated mom and friends like himself and director Chris Sanders to support me. Dean was very kind to point out to the audience that he saw my drawings and knew about my animation shorts that I’m working on. “You’re doing all the right things, Perry! Keep creating, be it drawings or story-writing,” Dean said. That’s the best advice for the night. At the end of the discussion, strangers walked over to me and asked for my autograph while the directors were signing mine on the beautiful brochure of the event.
If I had to predict which film would win the Oscars, it would be a very tough choice. I gave each nominated film 4 and a half starfish. I would pick Toy Story 3 to win TONIGHT, because it has gotten the most Oscar buzz and is the critics’ favorite. It is also the biggest animation film in history (over $1 billion box office)and the best of the Toy Story franchise, in my opinion. Toy Story 3 has more action, drama, humor, adventure, and heart than the previous two.
I myself actually like How to Train Your Dragon better because I felt a deeper connection with this film. I think it’s so magical, imaginative, and powerful. I noticed that some of my artistic friends liked Dragon better than Toy Story 3. Being a dragonologist and born in the year of the dragon (2000) certainly make me appreciate dragons more than most people. I love the moral which I wrote in my review: Friends are more powerful than foes. Being different empowers you to see what others cannot. I would be ecstatic if Dragon wins the Oscar! I predict Dragon will win best original score Oscar as I loved the amazing, rich music that added a lot to the story.
Watch my interview of kids on street about their Oscar pick:
When I surveyed kids on their favorites, however, more favored Toy Story 3. I also think The Illusionist is very Oscar worthy, but there weren’t enough people who saw it, because it is an independent film with a limited release.
If you want to be super-scientific, I’ll give 60% probability to win for Toy Story 3 , 30% for How to Train Your Dragon, and 10% for The Illusionist. I would be thrilled if any of the nominated films wins the Oscar, since they are all PERRIFIC™!
At the last minute TODAY (Feb 27 @ noon), mom & I squeezed in some time to go to the Landmark Theaters to see the Animated Oscar-Nominated Shorts. My mom was very busy with preparing for the Oscar Night America Charity event in San Diego.
When I got there, the shorts had already started a few minutes ago. It was pitch black in there, and the screen provided a scarce amount of light, so I couldn’t find my mom. We ended up sitting apart for the whole show. There were many appealing films though, such as The Lost Thing, Day & Night, The Gruffalo, and The Cow who Wanted to be a Hamburger, which was directed by my friend and storyboard artist for my movie, the world famous Bill Plympton. I thought the Cow should have been nominated instead of Madagascar: Travel Journal
My two favorites were The Lost Thing and Day & Night. In The Lost Thing, a nerd stumbles across a strange creature on the beach while collecting bottle caps. The creature seems to be lost and have no place anywhere. I loved the ingenious machines and contraptions that reminded my mom of the art of Alexander Calder, and I thought the creatures are similar in spirit to those in one of my favorite books: The Owl and the Pussy Cat.
Day & Night is an original and inventive film from Disney Pixar that tells the story of two characters and their unlikely companionship. Both are undoubtedly Perrific, but I predict Day & Night will win best animation short Oscar because it has a much wider audience.
This year was spectacular for animation films, and I almost can’t wait for next year!
For those in San Diego, watch me at the Oscar Night America – San Diego event to benefit a children’s charity TONIGHT, as I will walk on the red carpet and be asked to predict best animation Oscars on stage by the MC!
Copyright 2011 by Perry S. Chen
Perry Chen has been reviewing movies since he was 8 in third grade. He recently became the youngest winner of San Diego Press Club 2010 Excellence in Journalism awards for his movie review, and was featured in “The Young Icons” TV show. He reviews G/PG-rated movies for the San Diego Union Tribune and San Diego Entertainer Magazine with over 1 million readers combined. Perry is also the resident film critic for Amazing Kids, a non-profit organization with kids-generated content on its monthly magazine with about 1 million readers. He was featured as "Amazing Kid of the Month" in Feb 2011:
Perry regularly covers red carpet premieres, press junkets, film festivals and awards, interviewing Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning directors and producers. He was the first child film critic invited to present at the Annie Awards for animation in 2010, and was featured on Variety for being one of the leading young film critics:
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