‘Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse’: Oscar Animation Nomination Validates Experimental Spirit

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Sony’s innovative and evocative Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has been the runaway train among this year’s animation contenders, and rgw arachnid express kept that momentum going this morning by picking up an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature.

For the film’s producers, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the Spider-Verse nomination was the latest ringing endorsement of the film’s maverick ambitions to break away from Hollywood’s entrenched CG animation approaches to go in search of a more expressive reinvention that would meld hard-drive wonders with hand-drawn traditions.

“It’s been four years and 800 people working on this movie and we were trying to make something new and different and groundbreaking so the reception has been phenomenal and inspiring, really,” a groggy-sounding Miller said of the Oscar nomination. “We are as excited as we are tired.”

The Oscar nomination comes on the heels of the film’s victories in the animation categories at both the Producers Guild Awards and at the Golden Globes. The New York Film Critics Circle also named Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse as 2018’s best animated film.

The poignant tale of a wall-crawling teenager named Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore) grappling with his newly inherited powers and responsibilities will square off in the category against two sequels from Team Disney: Pixar’s Incredibles 2, which finished 2018 as the year’s top-grossing animated film with $1.2 billion in global box office, and crowd-pleasing Ralph Breaks the Internet from Walt Disney Animation.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
Columbia Pictures

The category is rounded out by two films set in Japan: Isle of Dogs, Wes Anderson’s eccentric canine fable, and the magical Mirai, which becomes the sixth anime nominee in the category’s history but the first one not produced by genre powerhouse Studio Ghibli. The year’s Oscar animation competition is an exact rematch of the Golden Globes with the same five films nominated.

The wave of trophy acclaim for Spider-Verse represents a dramatic turnaround for the duo of Lord and Miller and their experimental spirit — it was just 19 months ago that the directing tandem behind 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie was fired by Lucasfilm for putting improvisation ahead of practicality or planning too often during the making of Solo: A Star Wars Story.

If the duo’s swing-for-the-fence aspirations ended with a strikeout on Solo it was rewarded with a home run with Spider-Verse. Sony has filed for patent protection for the animation process invented to produce the Columbia Pictures film’s retro stylings, inclusionary spirit and visual audacity that have made it something of a social media sensation.

“We’ve worked on a bunch of movies that we’ve been really proud of and that we think are amazing but we’ve never had a reaction like this,” Miller said. “The outpouring of passion with this one is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Longtime animation vets are telling me they are having meetings at their studios trying to explain how the movie was even made. People are going to see it a fifth or sixth or seventh time and sending photos of their ticket stubs [out on social media]…people have become such radical supporters of the film. It’s been heartwarming to see.”

Chiming in, Lord added: “It is amazing to see how this movie has really inspired people to spread the word. One of our directors, Rodney Rothman, calls it the ‘first word-of-mouth’ Spider-Man fil,m and he’s totally right.”

The film represented an arduous undertaking and the labors were split between three directors — Rothman, Peter Ramsey and Bob Persichetti — and that trio are the official nominees in the Oscars race. No more than three names can be submitted with any film in the animation category according to Academy guidelines.

Every single frame of the 116-minute film has a computer-generated image as its foundation that was followed by an overlay of hand-drawn art. The results make each frame unique with illustrative emphasis — but it also means a week’s worth of labor was needed to produce a single second of screen action.

Asked what aspect of the film’s success resonates the most, Ramsey said it was the tears and testimonials from fans.

“For me it is the depth of emotion that people seem to have as a reaction to the movie with, you know, grown men and women talking about being overwhelmed and crying because their kids see themselves in Miles,” Ramsey said. “Or some of those parents are reacting to seeing themselves {culturally reflected] in Miles in a way that they haven’t seen before in a movie.”

Persichetti added: “We lived with this movie for three years and you start to see it in just one way and it’s hard to step back and be really objective about it but to see the movie come out and see how it touches so many people in such diverse ways them in all these different ways has been the most rewarding and surprising thing.”

Rothman said he was pleased by the industry reaction to the film as a game-changer that might reinvigorate the animation sector’s innovation: “There’s a rebellious spirit behind the movie. That was us trying to explore our crazy dreams of what was possible and to throw a gauntlet down. But until pretty close to the end of the project we didn’t know whether our gauntlet was working or whether it was missing some of its fingers.”

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2019/01/spider-man-into-the-spider-verse-oscar-animation-nomination-validates-experimental-spirit-1202539218/