Here’s what I’ve learned so far in regards to the Oscar nominations: I might be in love with every single nominee in the Best Animated Feature Film category. So I’ve not seen Sea Beast (yet) and I could not be more sure that it’s not going to win anyway, but after seeing the other movies in this category? Man, the competition may be some of the best I’ve seen in recent years.
Usually, this category is completely dominated by Disney and Pixar, sometimes with a little Dreamworks thrown in for good measure. But this year? Enter Marcel. Presented by A24 and Cinereach (who are responsible for other great artsy films like After Yang and Never Rarely Sometimes Always), Marcel the Shell with Shoes On began as a little animated short that was just meant to be funny and sweet. What it turned into is possibly my favourite animated movie of the year. Centring around Marcel and what he does in the Airbnb he lives in, it becomes a touching, wonderful story of long lost family and what it means to connect with and affect others.
I would murder people for this stupid god damn shell. I’m being deadly serious. If you watch this movie and you don’t fall in love with Marcel, then there’s a possibility you have no heart whatsoever.
I’m not sure that this is exactly how Dean Fleischer-Camp and Jenny Slate imagined their little short film from 2010 ending up. I mean, just look at Marcel now: he’s a movie star! In all seriousness though, what this pair of collaborators did really well here is develop their little character into a full-length feature film that actually has a feasible, coherent plot. As you may know, that is so often not the case with shorts that get the big screen treatment, so even the fact that the screenplay was adapted so well for a bigger screen and was successful is testament to how good the filmmakers are.
Not to bang on about it too much, but Marcel the Shell with Shoes On being nominated for the animated feature Oscar is simply so well-deserved. These movie distributors have managed to pick up something that had no guarantee at success in the same way a Disney movie would, but just look at who’s laughing now. In fact, there are a lot of similarities to Pixar within this film, including the fact that it has the perfect balance of truly funny humour and a heart-warming, soulful story. Did I expect to cry at an animated shell finding his long lost family? Absolutely not. And yet…
This blend of animation and live action is something that rarely works, save for classics like Space Jam and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, yet it’s flawlessly executed here. This is a film that’s full of originality though in that it uses stop motion rather than CGI; something I’ve never seen done before in a feature film yet it works beautifully here.
One last thing: I have to praise whoever managed to bring Isabella Rossellini on board for Nana Connie. She has pure Italian Nonna vibes that will both warm your heart and stab you in it. I loved Turning Red, but it’s Marcel all the way for me, even if there’s little to no chance of him taking home the gong.
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is currently screening in cinemas across the UK.
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