It is a truth universally acknowledged that the two “foreign” movies nominated for AFF each year will not be easily available before the Oscars themselves. This year, those two movies are Boy and the World and When Marnie Was There. However, I did manage to track down the other three. I’ve already discussed Inside Out, the likely winner of this category. Here’s a quick review of the other two.

Shaun the Sheep Movie

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Claymation always astounds me. The incredibly intense process makes any feature length attempt admirable. Shaun the Sheep is adorable and entertaining. Shaun, the sheepdog Bitzer, and the rest of the flock spend the movie trying to find their farmer who gets lost in the big city. Among the gags and non-verbal jokes, it creates some surprisingly deep and emotional moments. It’s definitely worth watching, especially for kids.

Anomalisa

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Every year, there’s one movie I regret seeing. This was that movie.

An admirable effort was put in to overcome the technical and production hurdles of this film. First of all, it’s stop-motion. Second of all, it’s stop-motion using rapid prototyping (aka 3D printing) – a still fairly new concept. Third of all, it was (at least partially) funded through a Kickstarter campaign.

The story follows Michael, a motivational speaker who looks for purpose in his boring and predictable world while on a business trip. It’s an adult film. It’s rated R. But the sex scenes weren’t even the worst thing about this film. The worst thing about the film was the lack of resolution for Michael. I suppose this was intentional since real life throws us problems without resolutions all the time. However, Michael leaves us with virtually no hope for himself or for humanity. My objection simply comes from an emotional and spiritual standpoint, as someone who wants the best for humanity.

The technical aspects of the film were spectacular. After a while, once I got used to the puppets, everything seemed natural. They are some of the most realistic puppets for stop-motion animation I have ever seen. The screenplay – aside from the moral problems – is well-done. The story itself almost becomes something fantastic. Everyone in Michael’s world has the same voice and the same face except for Lisa. The symbolic ideas behind this concept are incredibly intriguing and almost turn into an interesting story.

Predictions
It will be completely shocking if anything besides Inside Out wins. Especially because it was nominated for Original Screenplay.

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