Alice in Wonderland

The Nominations:

  • Art Direction
  • Costume Design
  • Visual Effects

The Black-and-White:

A review by moviegirl

Plot synopsis from

Alice, an unpretentious and individual 19-year-old, is betrothed to a dunce of an English nobleman. At her engagement party, she escapes the crowd to consider whether to go through with the marriage and falls down a hole in the garden after spotting an unusual rabbit. Arriving in a strange and surreal place called “Underland,” she finds herself in a world that resembles the nightmares she had as a child, filled with talking animals, villainous queens and knights, and frumious bandersnatches. Alice realizes that she is there for a reason–to conquer the horrific Jabberwocky and restore the rightful queen to her throne.

When does a movie cross the line from a film with a lot of computer generated images to an animated feature? I ask because it seems odd to me that an animated feature would ever be nominated/eligible for categories like Art Direction and Visual Effects, or even Costume Design, and yet this movie which was almost entirely computer-made has been nominated in all of these categories. Having said that, Robert Stromberg (nominated here for Art Direction) did win last year for Avatar, so maybe that answers my question.

The movie is incredibly rich visually as a result of the work in all three of these categories. The visual effects are on par with the effects in Inception, Harry Potter, and Iron Man 2 (we haven’t seen Hereafter). The art direction was really well executed, both in the early “real-life” scenes, and in the animated sections and this might be a place where a fantasy movie (this one, or Inception or Harry Potter) might be able to de-throne The King’s Speech from a clean sweep.

The costumes were designed by Colleen Atwood, who has worked with both Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter before, most recently in Sweeney Todd. This time, the costumes were a a riot of bright colors and patterns, layered and complex. We haven’t seen The Tempest, but two of the remaining nominees were period pieces (1930s and 1870s) and the other set in modern Italy. So whether this ends up winning I think has a lot to do with what “achievement” the voters are looking to reward — recreating period fashion, or creating fashion that is true to the imagination of the author and filmmaker.

This is another movie that is currently available streaming on Netflix, and worth a watch. One caveat: I have to admit that I watched the first two-thirds twice, and never got to the ending, so I can’t definitely say that it’s worth every second. But I did enjoy what I saw!

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