The New York Times' film critics--Manohla Dargis, A. O. Scott and Stephen Holden--have named the films and people they think deserve nominations in the main categories at this year's Oscars, and there's some good news for Anomalisa.

Manohla Dargis puts Tom Noonan and Jennifer Jason Leigh in her Best Actor and Supporting Actress Categories, while A. O. Scott gives Charlie a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Holden has nothing to say about Anomalisa.

Meanwhile, at Rotten Tomatoes, Anomalisa ranks at #35 in their list of 2015's best reviewed films. It garnered 68 reviews, 97% positive. Anomalisa is wedged between Mustang (98%, 44 reviews) and Heart of a Dog (98%, 42). The best reviewed film was Mad Max: Fury Road (97%, 333), #2 is Inside Out (98%, 301), and Selma rounds out the top 3 (99%, 218).

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Rolling Stone has a good, longish Q&A with Charlie, in which he talks about Anomalisa, working in customer service, the weather, and this:

I took a stop-motion animation class in high school[...]. I did one three-minute animation with clay, about an artist working with ... a big piece of, I guess, clay. And I built a loft studio out of a cardboard box. It had a skylight and a pipe going up the corner. He was sculpting this mound of whatever it was, and it started to come to life. The concept was pretty basic: The thing came to life and it started turning into all these different things. At one point, it threw him against the wall. I didn't know what I was doing, but I got him off the ground by having little toothpicks under his feet and I shot it from an angle where you couldn't see them. It was clear he wasn't touching the ground as he was being thrown, and I was really proud of that.

Then one of my teachers wanted to show it in his class: I had one copy and he lost it. I was really upset, because of the movies I made as a kid, this was the most accomplished and it was the thing I was the most proud of. I was so clear that I gave it to him and he was so clear that he gave it back to me. And the fact that a teacher was, in my opinion, lying to me to save face as opposed to taking responsibility, it was just really creepy to me. (Source)

What an ass.

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The New Yorker's Richard Brody: not a big fan of Anomalisa.

Kaufman betrays himself as much with his condescending compassion as with his withering observations. He builds his modest characters as collections of traits that appear as calculated details drawn from life but serving to do nothing but evoke sighs akin to those yielded by pictures of children and pets. The artificial sweetness and gentle satire of his portraits of characters who could be labeled as everyday people is haughty and incurious.

[...] With its immense but blank, self-regardingly self-congratulatory sympathy for the benighted masses toiling in their ostensible ordinariness, with its critical judgment of the talented but unfeeling, observant yet selfish minor artistic celebrity, “Anomalisa” looks like the work of an incurious egomaniac of conferences and offices, sets and studios, who hasn’t soiled the soles of his shoes on actual sidewalks for decades. (Source)

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From now until March 27, New York's Museum of the Moving Image is hosting an Anomalisa installation. Sweet!

This exhibit is an installation of two sets and puppets used in the film: a hotel room and a Cleveland city street, and the two main characters, Michael and Lisa. (Source)

More info at the link.

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It was bound to happen, because puppets! Here's Being Anomalisa, a mash-up trailer by Ryan Bergez:

 


Not bad at all.

Surely there will be other creative riffs on this whole Kaufman/puppet connection? Surely.

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This is probably the best interview with Charlie that I've read in ages. Vulture's Phoebe Reilly covers a lot of ground with Charlie--future projects, past projects, projects that will never hit our screens, his upcoming novel (no plot details, alas), other people's movies and TV shows, politics, Charlie's influences, the myths that have been created about him... Anomalisa barely gets a mention, but that's okay.

Random snippet:

I had a pilot at HBO that Catherine Keener was going to be in. The whole series takes place on one day. The premise of the show is that there are so many different accidents in your life that lead you in different directions, and as you look at someone’s life from birth to, let’s say, 50, there are so many different versions of that life that could have happened. My idea was that you take this woman, she is this age on this day, that’s the only given, and then each episode is based on a different route. Maybe it broke off here and the difference is very small; maybe it broke off when she was a baby, in which case it’s a completely different life. In the course of the series, you start to recognize, first of all, there’s clues given as to what these things were that happened that changed the course of her life. But there are also similarities in all these different versions of herself — about who she is. What I thought was really cool about the show, in addition to the premise, which I really liked, is that there’s no one right version of it. You can watch this in any order, and it’s a different show. The example that I like to use is that in one episode, she’s married to this man and you see their life together. In the next episode, she’s divorced from this man and you see her life having been divorced from this man. In a third episode, she and this man walk by each other on the street, clearly have never met. And depending on which order you watch the series in, there are different a-ha moments. (Source)

Who wouldn't want to see this?

A CRAZY PERSON, THAT'S WHO.

He's right about Black Mirror. That's a great show.

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You know a video will be worth watching, when it opens with Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson doing their impressions of a seal. So here, let me bring that to you. It's the opening to an entertaining 34 minute interview with DP/30. I haven't seen Charlie this relaxed in a while. Fair warning, though: the audio quality is sometimes less than good.

Fun footnote: the last time Charlie spoke with David Poland, in 2009, Poland got off on the wrong foot and Charlie was in less chipper spirits.

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Great news! Anomalisa is in contention for a Best Animated Feature Golden Globe, alongside The Good Dinosaur, Inside Out, The Peanuts Movie, and Shaun the Sheep Movie. No other nominations for the film, as far as I can tell. The whole list of nominees is on the L.A. Times site.

If you scroll down to the Animated Feature category, you'll find this great video: a roundtable interview with the directors of those films. (Charlie's not there, but Duke is.) I can't figure out how to embed it, so the link will have to do.

Meanwhile, Mike Ryan from Uproxx caught up with Charlie and Duke to get their reaction:

In this category, you’re up against something like The Peanuts Movie, which got really good reviews, but these are very different movies. “Best Animated” can cover a lot of ground.

Kaufman: Yeah, mostly – and certainly in this country – animated features are for kids. So, I think that’s the way it’s perceived. And we believe that animation is not a genre at all. It’s a form, it’s a medium – and you can do whatever you want in them and we would love to give other people that notion, too. And hopefully have more opportunity for diversity in the form. It’s a very exciting form, and I feel like it’s underrepresented in the type of movies that are made.

Do you think Anomalisa being nominated can help push that message out there?

Kaufman: I think we do. We talk about that and think about that a lot. And we talk to a lot of animators, when we do screenings, who come to us afterwards and talk about how happy they are: They’ve been looking for something like this to happen, to allow them to do other types of work rather than just kids movies. And the opportunity isn’t there. And they are hoping and we are hoping that other people get to make different kinds of movies with this form. (Source)

 

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Ta-da! Here's a new promo poster:

anomalisa-poster

The official poster's coming later this month.

(via /Film)

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Here's a great, lengthy interview with Dan Harmon over at Den of Geek, where he talks Anomalisa, Eternal Sunshine, Charlie Kaufman, and Harmon's other work.

I’ve really never seen anything as well-written, considering the full picture, because the original medium was just the actors sitting on stools and the radio play, plus a Foley artist. And, as I sat down I thought, “Well, I’ve seen this done before, you know, modern takes on the old art form, live radio with a Foley artist.” But then Charlie Kaufman proceeded to—as he always does when you look back on his career—use that medium, limitations and all, to express something about the human condition that you could only express with that medium about identity, individuality, and our fetish for difference. And it was just mind-boggling.

So I’d always mention that was, like, the best thing I’d ever seen written in any written medium, period. So I think that was part of why Dino asked Charlie, “Are you doing anything with that ever and if not can we adapt it into a stop-motion film?”

[...] [I had a] conversation with him where he asked me a lot of questions about why it is I liked performing. When Charlie Kaufman’s asking you questions you immediately become terrified that he’s sizing you up. I felt much safer staying as far away from the process and from him as possible because what could I do but fuck it up? He needs no help. All he needs is a safe place to do his work uninterrupted. If you could provide that and then hide in a cabinet until he’s done, I think you’re doing a great thing for moviegoers. (Source)

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Anomalisa did well at the L.A. Film Critics awards on the weekend! The film grabbed Best Animated Feature (runner-up: Inside Out) and runner-up Best Screenplay (behind Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy's Spotlight), while Carter Burwell took out Best Music for his work on Anomalisa and Carol.

Spotlight also took out Best Film, ahead of Mad Max: Fury Road.

You can read more at Deadline.

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Here's a mini making-of featurette--a bit of time lapse, a bit of Charlie, some Duke and Jennifer... Just enough in these 90 seconds to make us wish the damned film was wide released and in front of our eyes already, am I right?

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indieWIRE has a good interview with Duke and Charlie, focusing mainly on what it's like to film an adult stop-motion movie.

CK: I think so much of that finds its origin in the voice records that we did. It informed everything in terms of the puppet performances and so we got the actors and did this thing, which inspired us, and then went on to inspire everyone else working in production. They were all there, all the time, sitting in the recording studio together. It was pretty similar to the way the play was done but a lot more intimate setting without the theatrical presentation.

[...]

CK: The biggest thing that I came across, right off the bat, was that you can't shoot this like a regular movie with multiple takes. You have to, because it's such a protracted process, break it down to the frame and pretty much get one shot. And so not only do you have to make that work, you can't really start putting the thing together in any form because some of the shots are very short and obviously many of them take so long, you're waiting months and months and months before you can see if it's going to be working emotionally. And then to see the whole movie, you're pretty much waiting until the end of production. And the major lifting in terms of editing and all that stuff is done before you shoot the movie. That's an unusual way to work. (Source)

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Carter Burwell has his own website, and on that site is an Anomalisa page, and on that page you can listen to selections from the film's musical score. (Over on the right hand side.) There are 12 tracks available. YAY.

Thanks to Kemp!

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The New York Times has a great article on Anomalisa. It's similar to the other how-Anomalisa-went-from-stage-to-screen articles I've posted, but there are some good quotes and other little nuggets that make this one worth reading.

“Looking at it in retrospect,” Mr. Kaufman said, “it seemed like it was meant to happen. But while you’re going through it, it’s like: This is never going to happen. This is never going to happen. This is never going to happen.”

[...]

“Charlie is a very quiet, shy, slightly dour person,” Mr. Stamatopoulos said. “I’ll call Charlie up and say, ‘Hey, how ya doin’?’ And he’ll be like, ‘Eh, not so good,’ and I’ll be like, ‘Oh, he’s having a good day.’ ”

[...]

“I love doing stop-motion for no reason except that it’s stop-motion,” Mr. Stamatopoulos said. “My favorite thing is a puppet not moving, just sitting there and being depressed.”

[...]

Mr. Johnson and Mr. Kaufman had to remain in constant communication. The directors estimate that no more than 15 to 20 animators worked on the film at a time, each of whom, at best, produced about two seconds of footage a day.

“Over the course of time, people come and go,” Mr. Johnson explained

Mr. Kaufman added: “People died. People were born.” (Source)

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