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Stop-motion animation. It’s not just for children’s stories anymore. Anomalisa, the latest creation to stem from the original mind of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, has been proving that point to film festival audiences all season, and now you get to see what all of the fuss is about:
Charlie Kaufman, whose previous forays into cinema’s cerebellum have include Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Being John Malkovich, co-directs Anomalisa with Duke Johnson, though it has his neurotic fingerprints all over its spine. A brilliantly puzzling film, Anomalisa places a magnifying glass over the minutia that comes with business-class travel, as Michael Stone (David Thewlis) arrives in Cincinnati (where the zoo is zoo-sized) to speak at a generic convention, except… he has other things on his mind.
The trailer above, shared by Fandango/MovieClips, does a fairly good job of protecting some of the unusual aspects of Anomalisa, so I’m hesitant to reveal any of them here. Just know that if you dial in to the unconventional ways that Charlie Kaufman likes to explore the human condition – often approaching such things as "emotions" from a science-fiction angle – then there are some twists and turns in Anomalisa that will be sure to push your buttons and lure you close to the edge of your seat over stakes that are incredibly small – and yet, still vital.
Now, let’s side track and talk, briefly, about the film’s Awards possibilities. While a film certainly doesn’t rise or fall solely on the amount of awards chatter it can generate, Anomalisa already is making a two strong cases in two separate categories. Because of its emotional impact, and the creativity that went into its painstaking production, several are starting to beat the drum hard for the movie to have a chance at Best Picture. While that is not necessarily out of the picture just yet (a lot will depend on how the movie plays with audiences, and how many films end up being legitimate contenders as the end of the year approaches), Anomalisa likely will end up in the Animation category at the Academy Awards… where it’s expected to go up against Pixar’s Inside Out. Would it be an upset if Anomalisa beat one of the best reviewed Pixar movies in years?
But an Oscar campaign certainly is in this movie’s plans, as the trailer shows it will open in select theaters on December 30, before expanding in January. That means it just needs to be eligible to contend, and then it can test the waters with a larger market. Look for Anomalisa when it reaches a theater near you. I guarantee, you haven’t seen anything like it.