Showbiz / Three Reasons ‘The Breadwinner’ Could Be An Oscar Winner

Three Reasons ‘The Breadwinner’ Could Be An Oscar Winner

Showbiz Feb 23, 2018

Garnering an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature we look at Angelina Jolie-produced animated feature The Breadwinner — a stirring, stunning, timely ode to persevering in the face of oppression and misogyny

Come Oscar season, we’ve grown accustomed to the Best Animated Feature race being dominated by the latest CGI blockbuster from Disney and/or Pixar. The last four years, the best cartoons, as anointed by the Academy, have been Zootopia, Inside Out, Big Hero 6 and Frozen. In September, a movie arrived at the Toronto International Film Festival that might just buck the trend.


The Breadwinner
The Breadwinner: Young Parvana and her family share a meal, not long before their lives change forever. Photo Credit:


Executive-produced by Angelina Jolie and based on Deborah Ellis’s acclaimed novel, The Breadwinner is a throwback, 2D-animated story set in 2001 in Kabul, the Taliban-controlled capital city of Afghanistan. We open on Parvana (voiced by young Canadian actress Saara Chaudry). She’s a bright, inquisitive 11-year-old who serves as her father’s assistant in the marketplace. When dad is unjustly thrown into prison, however, it leaves Parvana, her mother, older sister and infant brother in dire straits, given that, in Kabul, women aren’t even allowed to leave the house unaccompanied by a man, let alone have a job. And so, Parvana cuts her hair, dresses as a boy, and heads back into the marketplace to try and hack out a living for her family, while also trying to come up with a way to get her father returned to them.

Here are three reasons, this film has a good chance at taking home an Oscar this March.


1. Classic Beauty

The Breadwinner
The Breadwinner: Director Nora Twomey employs a striking blend of animation techniques. Photo Credit: Elevation Pictures

Ever since Toy Story arrived in 1995, 3D animation became the norm for Hollywood productions — the hot new technology pushing the boundaries of the medium. Traditional 2D animation has increasingly become a niche, tough to come by for most casual North American film fans. With The Breadwinner, Irish director Nora Twomey and her team of 200 artists remind us how singularly striking an art form it can be, creating a rich, arresting world that’s alternately warm, sombre, terrifying and starkly beautiful. Mixing that 2D animation with “acrylic and digitally painted backgrounds,” the film’s unique texture alone is enough to keep you enthralled.

2. A Story About Stories

The Breadwinner
The Breadwinner: Parvana and her friend Shauzia fight for a better life. Photo Credit:


Of course, the main narrative of The Breadwinner follows Parvana as she ventures out into the world as a boy, battling to provide for her family, while also experiencing a freedom in her disguise that she’s never known before. Parvana’s brave, determined and intelligent. But just as important to her survival, even before her kindly old father is taken away, is her imagination, which she uses throughout the film to spin a series of fables and myths for her siblings, her friends and herself.

In a world of oppression and ugliness, Parvana offers hope, wisdom and chuckles to the people she holds dear. For  these sequences, Twomey pulls yet another technique out of her bag of cartoon tricks, employing paper cut-outs to animate this 11-year-old’s stories in infectiously energetic fashion. All told, it’s another striking touch in a film full of them, but also a keenly observed meditation on hope and the role of imagination in sustaining it.


3. A Timely Tale

The Breadwinner
The Breadwinner: Angelina Jolie, director Nora Twomey and star Saara Chaudry attend the film’s TIFF premiere. Photo Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for TIFF


The Breadwinner is ultimately about women persevering. Not just Parvana, but her mother, her sister and Shauzia, another girl who’s taken to dressing as a boy in order to survive in a male-dominated world. While their story may be set in Afghanistan, their struggle is of course experienced in one form or another the world over. Now, perhaps more than ever before, a film about women overcoming pervasive, deep-seated misogyny is one that’s likely to find purchase with Oscar voters and audiences. And having a superstar like Angeline Jolie — herself a longtime advocate for women’s rights — in its corner certainly doesn’t hurt.


The Breadwinner
The Breadwinner: Angeline Jolie takes a few selfies with fans on the TIFF red carpet. Photo Credit: George Pimentel/WireImage for TIFF


Main Image Photo Credit:

Matthew Currie

Matthew Currie


A long-standing entertainment journalist, Currie is a graduate of the Professional Writing program at Toronto’s York University. He has spent the past number of years working as a freelancer for ANOKHI and for diverse publications such as Sharp, TV Week, CAA’s Westworld and BC Business. Currie ...


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