There are purists who rankle at the very notion of a Best Animated Feature award at the Oscars—an award born because the cartoons nominated for Best Picture could be counted on one finger prior to 2001. But without it, we very likely wouldn’t have a chance to see Chico and Rita
, a beautiful, jazz-loving piece of hand-drawn Spanish animation that charts two star-crossed lovers through Cuba and New York City in the decade before the Castro revolution. Directors Tono Errando, Javier Mariscal and Fernando Trueba have created a stirring film about a young piano player and a singer, and the music that moves through their lives. The story is not terribly unique, but the infusion of Cuban jazz and the sublime animation makes Chico and Rita
a great film—one that’s better off with the attention that comes from an Oscar nomination.