CalArts Alum Chris Miller Nominated for Oscar for Puss in Boots

Puss in Boots

Chris Miller's 'Puss in Boots' is nominated for an Oscar. | Image: courtesy of Paramount

Early Tuesday morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the 84th Annual Academy Awards, and CalArts alumnus Chris Miller (Film/Video 90) earned an Oscar nomination for directing DreamWorks Animation’s Puss in Boots.

Miller competes with four other films in the Animated Feature Film category: A Cat in Paris by Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Feliciol; Chico & Rita by Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal; Kung Fu Panda 2 by Jennifer Yuh Nelson; and Rango by Gore Verbinski.

In excerpts from his New York Times review, critic Stephen Holden writes:

“Puss in Boots” mixes it all up. Even more than in the “Shrek” movies, from which this likely candidate for a new animated franchise is spun off, it is a cheerfully chaotic jumble of fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters parachuted into a Spanish storybook setting. It also looks terrific: brighter, with a lot more visual pizzazz than the “Shrek” films. Even when the story loses its thread, the movie rewards your eye.

…There is much to admire. The movie’s most remarkable feature is a spectacular use of 3-D that raises the bar for a mainstream animated film. Avoiding the usual stereoscopic clichés, “Puss in Boots” often looks multidimensional, especially its action sequences.

And unlike the “Shrek” movies “Puss in Boots” doesn’t give you the slightly queasy feeling of being stranded at a Friars Club roast where the talk is peppered with inside show business jokes. The tone of the screenplay is more innocent, and the movie is apparently directed at a slightly younger audience. That’s all to the good.

The Academy Awards will be broadcast live on ABC at 7e/4p on Feb. 26, 2012.

CalArtians Behind the Scenes of Oscar-Nominated Films

In addition to Chris Miller, a number of CalArts alumni and faculty worked on several of this year’s Academy Award-nominated Animated Feature Films. We salute them here:

Puss in Boots

  • Mike Bell, storyboard artist, (Film/Video BFA 90)
  • Morgan Kelly, animator, (Film/Video BFA 03)*
  • Matthew Nealon, story artist, (Film/Video BFA 08)
  • Tony Siruno, character designer, (Film/Video BFA 95)*
  • Ted Ty, animator, (Film/Video 93)*
  • Athanassios (Nassos) Vakalis, story artist, (Film/Video BFA 90)
  • Nate Wragg, story artist, (Film/Video 05)

Kung Fu Panda 2

  • Manuel Aparicio, animator, (Film/Video 00)
  • Chen-Yi Chang, additional story artist, (Film/Video 92)
  • Melanie Cordan, additional animator, (Film/Video BFA 96)
  • James Hull, additional animator, (Film/Video BFA 96)*
  • Ted Ty, animator, (Film/Video 93)*
  • Kathy Zielinski, animator, (Film/Video 81)
  • Eric Deuel, animator, faculty
  • Rad Sechrist, additional story artist, faculty


  • Sean Schur, senior digital artist, (Film/Video BFA 92)
  • Cristin Pescosolido, compositor, (Film/Video 95)

*Also a CalArts faculty member

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  1. Candy // //

    “Puss-in-Boots” is one of the funniest and most entertaining animated movies I have seen in recent times. Its not perfect by any means, as some parts seem to drag and at times the movie felt a bit too long for its own good, but on the whole it made for a nice viewing.

    This movie has all that, a compelling story, a good message, funny characters and a lot of humour, including a healthy dose of those “in-jokes” intended for the adults in the audience, in most cases the parents who tag along with their kids to watch the movie. That makes it a truly good family viewing because not only will the children have a good time, but there is plenty for the adults to enjoy too.

    The story is fun as it is about who Puss in Boots was before he met Shrek and Donkey. The five main characters were all well developed and well played. The visuals in this film are stunning. The animation was spectacular as the scenery is amazing. The music is great as it feels part spaghetti western, part modern day swashbuckling tale.

    As for a family film. the kids will enjoy it. The parents will be able to sit through it and enjoy a good story for themselves. Even those who are not kids or parents, like myself, will enjoy watching this film.