Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Animated shorts are a real ‘Feast’

When I was younger (and yes, there was a time when I was younger), one of the best parts of going to the movies was seeing the animated shorts. There weren’t a trillion TV channels where cartoons could be watched all the time. That made any animated short at the theaters a real treat.

That trend went away for a long time. It’s been exciting to watch the Walt Disney Studios revive the practice. The latest animated short offering from the company can be seen with the new feature film, “Big Hero 6.”

“The Feast” is the story of a scrappy dog who will eat anything put in front of him. The real story is the relationship he has with his master over the years. It’s a sweet story of love and loyalty.

Kristina Reed, producer of “The Feast,” was working on “Big Hero 6” when she got moved over to riding herd over the animated short. The biggest challenge she faced was that while Disney has been making shorts for a few years – including the Oscar winning “Paperman” – it’s a company built around making feature length movies.

“Your challenge as a short producer is you’re just running along, like this person’s free for two weeks? Great, come on to my show and do this. There’s a little animation team that has four weeks available? Come on to my show and do this,” Reed says. “You’re trying to sort of thread through and make consistent progress with random resources becoming available at random moments in time.

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Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

If you’re going to brave the bad air

EnglishBeat_credit_Bryan_Kremkau (1)1. The English Beat
Two-tone ska legends + plus Fresno ska legends.

2. Tower Beer Run
This is not a real race, although some with attack it as such no doubt. Get a $1 race bib and partake in $1 beer samples from two dozen Tower District establishments.
3. Sarah Chang
The Fresno Philharmonic turns 60. Violinist Sarah Chang help celebrate with a show that includes the Bruch Violin Concerto, which she first performed at her audition for the Juilliard School. She was five.

4. Catch up on Oscar nominees
With the Academy Awards around the corner, the local movie houses are full of Oscar-nominated films including “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.” Bet you didn’t see that coming.

5. Fresno Partnership City Council Candidate Forum
Before you roll you eyes and say “boooooring,” keep in mind that life isn’t all fun and games. This is specifically for candidates in districts 1 and 7, but it’ll be good primer for anyone interested in local politics

As a sixth (and the event I will for sure be at) there is this.

Numerous Oscar-nominated movies in town

BOX OFFICEIf you are looking to get caught up with this year’s Oscar-nominated motion pictures, this is a good weekend to go to the movies. Here are the films that will be playing in local theaters starting Friday and their Oscar nominations:

“American Hustle”: Picture; Actor, Christian Bale; Supporting Actor, Bradley Cooper; Actress, Amy Adams; Supporting Actress, Jennifer Lawrence; Costume Design; Directing, David O. Russell; Film Editing; Production Design; Writing – Original Screenplay.

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Oscar predictions you won’t see elsewhere

SETH MACFARLANEThere are always a lot of predictions floating around at Oscar time. Everyone always thinks they have some super insight that will allow they to clearly see which films will be honored and which will be ignored.

Those kind of predictions are too common. The following are predictions that you won’t see anywhere else when the awards are handed out Sunday night.

I predict ….

… Quvenzhané Wallis will have her named pronounced at least three different ways including Quiznos.

… Seth MacFarlane will say — or do — something so outlandish it will overshadow the rest of his hosting work. It will probably have something to do with a pound of butter, three roses and a young German woman named Helga.

… the tribute to Bond will overlook the suggestive names given to Bond women. Rumors are the name of the main female Bond character in the next 007 movie will be Ima Estelle Zera. Ima E.Z. will be played by Kim Kardashian.

… there will be more Oscar winners who thank their agents than thank God.

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‘Avatar’ doesn’t belong among best pictures nominees

avatar_poster.JPG Nominees for the “82nd Annual Academy Awards” were announced earlier today and for the first time in several years there were no major surprises.

It was no surprise “Avatar” got a best picture nomination, although the film really didn’t deserve it. “Avatar” is visually stunning. It just lacks the quality writing and performances that should be the key reason for earning consideration among the best of the year. That being said, “Avatar” is the leading contender to win the best picture Oscar.

Star Trek” and “Where the Wild Things Are” got overlooked in the top category. Both were visually stunning and also featured better writing and performances than “Avatar.”

As for my predictions, I picked 24 of the 30 nominations in the top five categories including going five for five in the best actor category.

The biggest mistake was the nomination of Penelope Cruz for “Nine.” Not only was it one of the least interesting performance in the film, her selection kept Julianne Moore from being nominated for a superb performance in “A Single Man.” Moore’s snub is the biggest miscue of this year’s Oscar nominees.

For those of you who have not seen this year’s list of nominees, the entire list is on the jump, with links to past reviews and interviews:

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Academy makes big change in Oscar nominations


There will be a major change in the nominations for “The 82nd Academy Awards.” The number of movies in the running for Best Picture will increase from five to 10. The announcement of the change was made this morning by Academy Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Sid Ganis.

The Academy has had five nominees since 1944. Before that, there were various numbers of nominees. For nine years, until the 16th awards, there were 10 nominees in the category. In 1931 and 1932 there were eight nominees. In 1934 and 1935 there were 12 nominees.

The plus of this change is that movies like “The Dark Knight,” a film that deserved a Best Picture nomination last year, won’t be left on the sidelines.

The negative is that five nominations created a very select group. The change looks like an effort by the Academy to generate some more interest in the show. In the end, there will still be only one winner. If this work maybe they will keep expanding until junk like “Pink Panther 2″ gets consideration.

How this change plays out will be seen when “The 82nd Academy Awards”
are handed out March 7. Nominations will be announced Feb. 2.