One of the more buzzed about competitions in the 2011 Oscar race was the Best Animated Feature showdown between How to Train Your Dragon, Toy Story 3 and a quaint little French film by Sylvain Chomet, the man behind 2003's The Triplets of Belleville. The Illusionist, definitely not to be confused with the Edward Norton flick of the same name, is a beautifully rendered, semi-autobiographical piece about late French director Jacques Tati, who penned the script in the mid-1950s. And while its fellow nominees were technological masterpieces chock-full of 3-D effects, Tati's simply animated tale of a man at odds with modernity really made this film a perfect contender for the statue on so many levels. Add to that thematic contrast a nice helping of family drama, and you've really got an interesting backstory. Relatives of Tati's first daughter, whose relationship (or lack thereof) with her father was ostensibly the basis of the original script, were outraged when Chomet dedicated the film to her younger half-sister. And while the Academy has already rendered its decision on this loving tribute to Tati's quirky, old-fashioned worldview (and its associated drama), the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St., is presenting it as part of the Magnolia at the Modern series so you, too, can see the little gem that competed with the animated big guns this year. The Illusionist screens at 6 and 8 p.m. Friday, 5 p.m. Saturday, and noon, 2 and 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $8.50. Visit themodern.org/magnolia.
March 11-13, 2011