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Katō's 'La Maison en Petits Cubes' Nominated for Oscar (Updated)

posted on by Mikhail Koulikov
No anime up for best animated feature; Speed Racer nominated for Razzie

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced on Thursday morning that Kunio Katō and ROBOT Communications' "La Maison en Petits Cubes" has been nominated for best animated short film at the 81st Academy Awards. His short is competing with Konstantin Bronzit's "Lavatory - Lovestory," Emud Mokhberi and Thierry Marchand's "Oktapodi," Doug Sweetland's "Presto," and Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes' "This Way Up." The Academy nominated Koji Yamamura's "Mt. Head" in this category in 2003.

Katō's 12-minute work uses paper drawings and 2D computer graphics to tell the story of a grandfather's memories as he adds more blocks to his house to stem the flooding waters. Katō already won the Annecy Cristal and a Junior Jury Award at France's Annecy International Animated Film Festival and Market in June, as well as the Hiroshima Prize and the Audience Prize at the Hiroshima International Animation Festival in August.

The academy did not nominate a Japanese animated film for the best animated feature film this year. Instead, Chris Williams and Byron Howard's Bolt (Walt Disney), John Stevenson and Mark Osborne's Kung Fu Panda (DreamWorks Animation, Paramount), and Andrew Stanton's WALL-E (Walt Disney's Pixar) earned the nods in this category. Two anime films, Mamoru Oshii and Production I.G's The Sky Crawlers and Masahiro Ando and BONES' Sword of the Stranger, had been among the 14 eligible films submitted for possible nomination. Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away won this category in 2003, while his Howl's Moving Castle lost to Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit in 2006. The Academy Awards will be presented on February 22.

On a different note, the Golden Raspberry Award Foundation announced on Wednesday that Larry and Andy Wachowski's live-action remake of the Speed Racer anime has been nominated for the Golden Raspberry ("Razzie") award in the "Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel" category. The film is competing against "The Day The Earth Blowed Up Real Good" (The Day the Earth Stood Still), the double-billing of Disaster Movie and Meet The Spartans, Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Speed Racer was also submitted for the overall Worst Picture category last December, but it did not "earn" a nod there. The Razzie Awards will be presented on February 21, one day before the Academy Awards ceremony.

First awarded in 1980, the Razzies seek to point out "Hollywood's high-profile humiliations." Unlike the Academy Awards, where the winners are chosen by people who have been invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences based on their past accomplishments, any person may vote for the Razzies after purchasing a membership. (Prices start at US$25.) To a lesser degree than the Academy's Oscars, the Razzie Awards' ceremony usually receives television, newspaper, and other media coverage.

Update: Yojiro Takita's live-action film Departures (Okuribito) was Japan's entry in the Best Foreign Language Film of the Year category at the 81st Academy Awards. Takita directed the two live-action Onmyoji films, and Joe Hisaishi, the composer of almost every film by Miyazaki, wrote the Departures' soundtrack. Thanks, mirax.

Due to the Academy rules that dictate that eligible films must not have been exhibited outside of the United States before 2007, Mamoru Hosoda's The Girl Who Leapt Through Time was not eligible for this year's awards.

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