Hillsboro studio Laika on Golden Globes win and Oscar nomination
Hillsboro animation studio Laika is taking award season to the next level.
Laika's "Missing Link," directed by Chris Butler and produced by Arianne Sutner and Travis Knight, won a Golden Globe Award earlier this year for Best Animated Feature Film. If that weren't enough, the film was nominated for an Oscar in the same category on Monday, Jan. 13.
It joins four others nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Animated Feature category: "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World," "I Lost My Body," "Klaus" and Pixar's "Toy Story 4."
"When that announcement came through for the (Golden) Globe, people were sort of pinned to the floor momentarily and then launched into the atmosphere," said John Craney, puppet fabrication supervisor at Laika. "It's probably taken a few people at least a week to come down and touch the earth again."
The film, which was released April 7, centered around a sasquatch who enlists the help of an explorer to find the rest of his kind in the Himalayas. The film stars Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana and comedian Zach Galifianakis.
It took about 117 puppets and over three years to bring the film to life, said Craney.
"Link (was) tricky," Craney explained, referring to the sasquatch character voiced by Galifianakis. "He's kind of a half-human and -animal hybrid."
Building and animating Galifianakis's character and overcoming other hurdles, he said, had Craney and his Laika team "innovating along the way, and a lot of problem-solving on the film."
Laika specializes in making stop-motion films, a process requiring animators to move the foot-tall puppets a fraction of an inch at a time, photographing them dozens of times to create a single second of film.
Craney hopes the movie's new Hollywood honors can highlight the medium on an international stage.
"It's a very physical technique," he said. "It's very much in the moment … and (the Golden Globe) is great for the genre and stop-motion moving forward."
When asked if he thought "Missing Link" would be getting a Golden Globe win while creating the film, Craney demurred.
"The process is very much focused on how we're actually going to meet the expectations of the production and deliver the film, rather than thinking about awards at that time," he said.
As for the Academy Awards, Craney will keep his "fingers crossed" in hope for a win.
"We deserve this," said Craney of the recognition that the Hillsboro studio is now getting for the film. "It was a lot of hard work by many talented artists and craftspeople and engineers."
The Oscars will be broadcast on ABC Feb. 9.
This is the sixth Academy Award nomination Laika has received since the studio released its first film, "Coraline," in 2009. Each of its films has been nominated for Best Animated Feature in the past, and its previous film, 2016's "Kubo and the Two Strings," was also nominated for Best Visual Effects.
Laika, is owned by Nike co-founder Phil Knight and run by his son, Travis Knight. The animation studio is on Northeast Bennett Street, near the Gordon Faber Recreation Complex and Hondo Dog Park.
The studio has been critically praised, and its president and CEO, Travis Knight, has also directed several major Hollywood films, including 2018's "Bumblebee."
Editor's note: A previous version of this story misstated Travis Knight's filmography. The story has been corrected to accurately reflect the films he has directed.
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