2012 Oscar Preview: Best Animated Feature, Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Technical Category Quick Picks

     November 26, 2011

Continuing on with our look at the 2012 Oscar race, today we delve into Best Animated Feature and the technical categories. As Pixar’s Cars 2 was the studio’s worst-received feature to date (it currently sits at 38% on Rotten Tomatoes), we’ve got ourselves an actual competition in the Animated Feature category. Not only that, but if all 18 films that were submitted to the Academy are deemed eligible, we’ll have a total of five nominated films. This leaves us to debate the merits of Rango and The Adventures of Tintin against the likes of Puss in Boots and Arthur Christmas.

Additionally, we’ve taken a stab at Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay, and the technical categories. As these are incredibly tricky to predict this far out (and my picks would be doomed to haunt me come February), I’ve simply listed a couple of frontrunners in each category instead of going in depth. Though it’s still early, we’ve got an overall picture of how things look like they’ll stack up; so hit the jump to check out the state of the race so far. If you missed our previous preview articles, be sure to take a look at our picks for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, and Best Actor and Best Actress.

rango-movie-poster-hi-res-01As I said before, the number of nominated movies in Best Animated Feature depends on how many the Academy deems eligible. If the number of eligible films is less than or equal to 15, there will be three nominees, but if the number is over 15 there will be five. 18 flicks were submitted to the Academy, so assuming all of them are deemed eligible we’re looking at a 5-picture race.

Best Animated Feature



The Adventures of Tintin

Likely to be nominated:

Puss in Boots

Arthur Christmas

Other contenders:

Cars 2

Happy Feet 2

Kung Fu Panda 2


puss-in-boots-movie-poster-04The Best Animated Feature race this year is somewhat exciting because it’s poised to be an actual race. Pixar released their first certified rotten film in history, Cars 2, so the “runner-up to Pixar” award has now been upgraded to Best Animated Feature. Speaking of Cars 2, the film was so poorly received it’s not even a guarantee that it’ll be nominated. In lieu of that, the bonafide frontrunner this year is undoubtedly Gore Verbinski’s fantastic Rango. The Western Comedy debuted to stellar reviews and solid box office with the help of a brilliant voice performance by Johnny Depp and some seriously stunning visuals, not to mention the quirky John Logan-scripted story. The real threat to Rango seems to be Steven Spielberg’s motion-capture adventure pic The Adventures of Tintin. While sure to bring up the “motion-capture is not animation” debate again, the film has been earning positive reviews and is being called the Indiana Jones sequel Spielberg never made.

Also a strong contender is Aardman Animation’s Arthur Christmas, which is earning some delightfully positive reviews. Aardman is known for its goofy stories and Arthur Christmas is the studio’s first film since 2006’s Flushed Away. Puss in Boots has a healthy shot at a nomination, but I’m not sure it’s destined to go all the way. The film received positive (though not necessarily enthusiastic) reviews, but is hurt by its inability to mirror the box office performance of the Shrek franchise. Happy Feet 2 has a shot, but it’s not exactly getting a warm critical reception. The first Happy Feet won the award in 2006 though, so the Academy may still throw Happy Feet 2 a nomination.

If the Academy is put off by Puss in Boots, they may recognize DreamWorks with Kung Fu Panda 2. The martial arts sequel also received positive reviews, and enjoyed quite a healthy box office run. Blue Sky’s Rio has a shot at a nomination as well, though it’s not a heavyweight by any means.

If I had to guess, I’d say the award is between Rango and The Adventures of Tintin, with Arthur Christmas playing the possible spoiler depending on the film’s critical/commercial reception. I think Puss in Boots and Cars 2 will round out the nominations, just because the Academy may feel obligated to at least recognize Pixar (and though there are few, the film does have its fans).

midnight-in-paris-movie-poster-01For the screenplay and technical categories, I’ve just listed a couple frontrunners. These races get tricky, so it’s tough to justly analyze them in great detail this far in advance with so many films yet to be seen.

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Woody Allen – Midnight in Paris
  • Michel Hazanavicious – The Artist

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Alexander Payne, Jim Rash, and Nat Faxton – The Descendants
  • Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, and Stan Chervin – Moneyball


  • The Artist
  • The Descendants
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


  • Guillame Schiffman – The Artist
  • Emmanuel Lubezki – The Tree of Life

Art Direction:

  • The Artist
  • Hugo
  • War Horse

Sound Mixing:

  • Hugo
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
  • The Adventures of Tintin

rise-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-movie-poster-uk-01Sound Editing:

  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
  • The Adventures of Tintin
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Costume Design:

  • The Artist
  • Hugo
  • War Horse

Visual Effects:

  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2


  • J. Edgar
  • Albert Nobbs

Original Score:

  • Ludovic Bource – The Artist
  • John Williams – The Adventures of Tintin/War Horse
  • Howard Shore – Hugo
  • Alexandre Desplat – The Tree of Life/Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2/The Ides of March

Documentary Feature:

I’ve no clue as to the frontrunners in this category right now, as many of the year’s best-reviewed docs were absent from the Academy’s shortlist of eligible films. In lieu of choosing a frontrunner, you can read the list of pics eligible for the award here.

  • Tivo

    No love for Kevin Smith’s red state?

  • Chikamatsu’s 10 Puppets

    As much as I would like to say the best original score should go to Desplat for Deathly Hallows, I have to admit that, as with anything Howard Shore touches, Hugo’s score was perfect in every way.

  • doug

    What about winnie the Pooh? And I could see costume nomination for thor.

  • João Paulo

    Maybe a Visual Effects nomination for TF3. I think Tintin will win this.

  • Murrey

    For the Best Animated Feature nominees, one should not count out GNOMEO AND JULIET. It’s a real horse race this year, but the likely winner is RANGO.

  • Mr. Me

    Why the hell did ‘The Interrupters’ get snubbed? Anyone know why it wasn’t deemed eligible?

  • Angel of Death

    No disrespect. But you made a crucial mistake of neglecting Winnie the Pooh from the Animated Feature category. The movie still qualifies as one of the best reviewed films of the year. I think it’s more of a shoe-in for the category than Rango, quite frankly.

  • Armand

    No love for deathly Hallows part 2 in the screenplay department? Given all the shining reviews its gotten and just how spectacular it was, it should be nominated for best pic at least!

    • Liam_H

      It has more of a chance for a gimme Best Pic nod than screenplay.

  • BMTO

    I’ll third Winnie the Pooh. The reviews alone make it worth a nomination, but for anyone who has seen it, Pooh is one of the most remarkably well made animated movies in a long time. I know it’s a long shot, but I would go so far as to nominate it for Best Original Screenplay, I wasn’t prepared for how smart it was.

  • Pi

    Adam, you’re right about the debate that “mo-cap is NOT animation” talk going on, and you’re also right that TIN TIN is getting RAVE reviews. but still, keep in mind that the VOTERS in the animation category ARE ANIMATORS. John Lasseter and his crew are firm with “one frame at a time” ideology. they’ll never consider TIN TIN as animation(they believe Mocap should have a different category). and there lies the problem TIN TIN is going to have. the voters will not vote for it in the category.

  • Fred

    I honestly can’t believe that 50/50 was left out of the best original screenplay category. It was one of the best reviewed films of the year, and it’s based on a true story, the academy loves that. I honestly don’t believe that Midnight in Paris has a leg up over 50/50 in that category, no matter how much the academy loves Woody Allen.

    • Ashley

      I definitely agree with you. 50/50 was one of the best films this year.

  • Corinne

    Rango and Hugo struck similar chords with me, I guess since they both play with the history and the magic of film.

    Rango: “Who am I? I could be anyone.”

    Hugo’s George Melies in his fantastic stage scene near the end: “I address you as you truly are … mermaids, adventurers, magicians — come and dream with me.”

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  • Federico

    Y’know what’s a tragedy, though?
    “Leafie: A Hen Into the Wild” being completely overlooked by the academy and almost everyone covering ths thing.

    • Federico

      Or yknow what? I dunno if its even eligble.
      Either way, that flm needs attentione.

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