Triplettes de Belleville, Les

Les Triplettes de Belleville (2003) is a strange, heartbreaking, life-affirming, thoroughly French feature-length animated movie. When Madame Souza, who is raising her orphaned grandson Champion, gives him a tricycle to cheer him up, it is the beginning of an obsession with racing that leads to his competition in the Tour de France. Halfway through the race Champion is kidnapped by a gang of French Mafioso and taken to Belleville, a Quebec-inspired suburb of Paris. His grandmother, accompanied by his pet dog, Bruno, must cross the sea to go to his rescue. During their adventure they encounter the Belleville Triplets, a trio of cabaret singers who eat nothing but frogs and wholeheartedly help Madame Souza with her mission.

Sylvain Chomet's virtually dialogue-free film humorously acknowledges a variety of influences including the great French comedian Jacques Tati, Betty Boop, Disney's 101 Dalmatians and the pioneering American animator Windsor McKay. The movie's bracing pace is determined by its award-winning score, which, composed in part by Canadian Benoit Charest, employs more than 20 musicians. Edith Piaf-style numbers are mixed with the throbbing Hot Five Club of Paris sounds powered by gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt, big band dance music, contemporary beat elements and street noise.

A Canada/France/Belgium co-production, Les Triplettes de Belleville won the GENIE Award for best picture and was nominated for best song. It received an Academy Award nomination for best animated feature and best original song, a César Award for best music written for a film and nominations for best film and best first work; and in 2005 it was nominated for a Grammy Award for the best song written for a motion picture. In addition, it received dozens of international awards and critical citations.