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Wreck It Ralph (#110 of 5)

Review: Amy M. Davis’s Handsome Heroes and Vile Villains: Men in Disney’s Feature Animation

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Review: Amy M. Davis’s Handsome Heroes and Vile Villains: Men in Disney’s Feature Animation
Review: Amy M. Davis’s Handsome Heroes and Vile Villains: Men in Disney’s Feature Animation

Released in 2006, Amy M. Davis’s Good Girls and Wicked Witches is a theoretically light, often unconvincing examination of Disney’s depiction of femininity in animated features over the course of the 20th century, specifically as related to similar depictions in live-action films, such as 1991’s Thelma & Louise. The situating of Disney’s femininity within a larger Hollywood schema ultimately leads Davis to the conclusion that “the Disney studio has presented an image of women—and femininity—which, although not perfect, is largely positive in its overall make-up,” a conclusion (and apologia) that remains problematic, not least for its by-proxy estimation that Hollywood cinema’s depiction of femininity over the course of the 20th century is “largely positive.”

These hollow sorts of claims return again in Davis’s new book—a sequel, if you will—entitled Handsome Heroes and Vile Villains, which takes as its subject the male figures in Disney’s animated feature films. As it turns out, Davis displays no more aptitude for positioning these depictions in a suitable socio-historical context, eschewing research-based examinations for apologia redux, ultimately ending the book by stating: “Though Disney films are not perfect by any means, their track record for showing balanced representations of gender roles is improving, little by little.” Such conclusory remarks would merely be weak rather than baffling had they not been preceded by Davis’s accusatory comments that “Disney’s enormous familiarity, combined with the popularity of iconoclasm generally, makes Disney the perfect focus for those with time on their hands and an axe to grind.” Davis’s evidence of “those” people amounts to a single YouTube video from 2007, with nary a single academic (or even popular critical) work as the object of her scorn.

Oscar 2013 Composite Winner Predictions

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Oscar 2013 Composite Winner Predictions
Oscar 2013 Composite Winner Predictions

Below is a complete list of our predicted winners at the 2013 Academy Awards.

Picture: Argo
Director: Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
Original Screenplay: Amour
Adapted Screenplay: Lincoln
Foreign Language: Amour
Documentary Feature: Searching for Sugar Man
Animated Feature Film: Wreck-It Ralph
Documentary Short: Open Heart
Animated Short: Head Over Heels
Live Action Short: Curfew
Film Editing: Argo
Production Design: Anna Karenina
Cinematography: Life of Pi
Costume Design: Anna Karenina
Makeup: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Score: Life of Pi
Song: “Skyfall,” Skyfall
Sound Editing: Life of Pi
Sound Mixing: Les Misérables
Visual Effects: Life of Pi

Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions Animated Feature

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Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Animated Feature
Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Animated Feature

With Pixar Animation Studios having won this award six out of eight times since the category’s inception back in 2001, conventional wisdom would suggest that Brave is a favorite to take this year’s prize. But Pixar’s reputation ostensibly took a major hit last year, when Cars 2 failed to even secure a nomination. And given how modestly the studio’s latest nominated feature has performed on the awards circuit up to this point, this year’s race may lend credence to the notion that the Pixar pedigree has seriously weakened. Though Brave is notable for being the only film in the Pixar canon with a female protagonist, offering a different take on the well-worn princess tale than we’re accustomed to from a Walt Disney property, the generally well-received film did take some slack upon release for its surprisingly conventional storytelling.

Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions Animated Short

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Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Animated Short
Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Animated Short

If there’s any consensus among the Slant staffers who’ve spent way too much time trying to peg the winner in this category, it’s that only two nominees can be safely ruled out. PES’s Fresh Guacamole, which has amassed almost seven million views on YouTube since May of last year, is a conceptual dazzler that, not unlike one of our favorite music videos of last year, Benga’s “I Will Never Change,” feels entirely too circumscribed by its very conceptuality to register as anything beyond a cleverly executed (and all-too-brief) stunt. A nay as well to Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”, a charming and ultimately touching tale about the youngest Simpson, upon being denied entrance into a daycare’s gifted section, using all her chutzpah to save a butterfly from her famous unibrowed archnemesis. That the effectiveness of the short almost hinges on the audience’s familiarity with The Simpsons (Maggie Simpson has a unibrowed archnemesis?) may be as much of a detriment as its guilt-by-association corporate-ness, having played in theaters prior to Ice Age: Continental Drift.