Byron Howard is an animator, producer, and director at Walt Disney Feature Animation who turns 45 this year. He worked as an animator on 1995’s Pocahontas, 1998’s Mulan, 2002’s Lilo and Stitch, 2003’s Brother Bear, and 2006’s Brother Bear 2. His work on Brother Bear earned him an Annie Award nomination for Outstanding Character Animation. After 2006, he began to make his transition to directing. For this latest special Oscar edition of Animation Corner, I’ll be looking back at the two features that Howard has directed: the Oscar-nominated 2008 film Bolt (which is celebrating its fifth anniversary) and the Oscar-nominated 2010 film Tangled.
Co-directed by Howard and Chris Williams, 2008’s Bolt centers on a small white dog named Bolt who has spent his entire life on the set of a TV series and, as a result, believes that he has super powers. When he believes that Penny, his owner, has been kidnapped, he sets out on a cross-country journey to “rescue” her. Featuring the voices of John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Malcolm McDowell, Diedrich Bader, Nick Swardson, Greg Germann, Susie Essman, Mark Walton, James Lipton, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Randy Savage, this critically acclaimed film carried a budget of $150 million but grossed only $114 million domestically (it did earn $195 million internationally, bringing its worldwide total to nearly $310 million). It was nominated for a number of Best Animated Feature awards (including the Annie Awards, Golden Globes, Broadcast Film Critics Association, Producers Guild of America, as well as the Academy Awards), but it lost each time to Wall-E.
Co-directed by Howard and Nathan Greno, 2010’s Tangled centers on a lost princess with long magical hair who yearns to leave her secluded tower and, against her mother’s wishes, enlists the aid of a thief, who accidentally bumps into her, to take her out into the world that she’s never seen. Featuring the voices of Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, Brad Garrett, Ron Perlman, Jeffrey Tambor, and Frank Welker, this critically acclaimed film spent six years in production and ended up costing $260 million to make. It grossed $200 million domestically and $390 million internationally for a worldwide total of $590 million. It earned nominations for Best Original Song and Best Animated Feature from the Golden Globes and the Broadcast Film Critics Association, as well as Best Animated Feature nods from the Saturn Awards and the Annie Awards. Its sole Academy Award nomination was for Best Original Song (“I See the Light”: music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater).