For only the second time since the category’s creation in 2001, Best Animated Feature will have five nominees competing for the award instead of three. This is because this is the first time more than 16 films have been submitted. Maybe another year this would mean the category would have greater competition rather than a clear winner in years past (although there have been a couple upsets, i.e. years where Pixar released a film and didn’t win). Unfortunately for the four other also-rans, Pixar released Up. Hit the jump for more details.
It’s great that there will be five nominees this year but it could have had ten and it wouldn’t change the outcome. Oscar watchers are always saying that Up is a near-lock for a Best Picture nomination now that the category for Oscar’s highest honor has opened up from five slots to ten. I’ve listed all twenty submissions below. Ask yourself if you think any of them has a chance of also receiving a Best Picture nomination. While it’s possible the Academy will waste this opportunity to create a stronger diversity of films in its top category (which was the whole reason for the expansion in the first place), a Best Picture nomination for Up means an automatic win in the category. If not, Academy voters would basically be saying the film is one of the best movies of the year, but it wasn’t the best animated movie of the year. If that happened, the immediate question would be, “Well why didn’t you nominate that movie for Best Picture?”
Now if the category was simply about the craft of animation and nothing else, then 9 would have a serious shot at winning an Oscar. But as we’ve seen from years past, it’s about an engaging story above all else. The film just happens to be animated. With no other movie even being mentioned in the same breath as a Best Picture nomination, Up winning Best Animated Feature feels like a foregone conclusion.
However, that doesn’t mean that it won’t be interesting to see who joins its company. You have box office smashes like Monsters vs. Aliens, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and artistically impressive, non-CG movies like Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Mary & Max. A Christmas Carol has only been open one weekend and was greeted by mixed reviews so it’s a long shot, especially when you consider that director (and Best Director-winner Robert Zemeckis) didn’t earn nominations for his previous motion-capture/3D hybrids, The Polar Express and Beowulf. The big wild card in the race is Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. Had the Best Animated Feature existed twenty years ago, the studio would have Oscars for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King.
Keep in mind that I haven’t mentioned a film’s quality, not even Up‘s, once. This is because the Academy plays a different game than quality. If you can recognize the killer combo of critical acclaim, strong box office, and a positive message, you’re going to be a contender for Best Picture. If you can throw the Holocaust somewhere in there, all the better. But when it comes to Best Animated Feature, it will be interesting to see where voters throw their support, especially since one of the films they choose may also be competing for the Academy’s top prize.
Here’s the list of potential nominees [via Heat Vision Blog]:
“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel” (Fox 2000)
“Astro Boy” (Summit)
“Battle for Terra” (Lionsgate)
“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” (Sony Animation)
“Disney’s A Christmas Carol”
“The Dolphin — Story of a Dreamer” (20th Century Fox)
“Fantastic Mr. Fox” (20th Century Fox)
“Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” (20th Century Fox)
“Mary & Max” (IFC)
“The Missing Lynx” (Kandor Graphics, YaYa! Films)
“Monsters vs. Aliens” (DreamWorks Animation)
“Planet 51″ (Sony)
“Ponyo” (Disney and Studio Ghibli)
“The Princess and the Frog” (Disney)
“The Secret of Kells” (Les Armateurs, Viva Film, Cartoon Saloon, France 2 Cinema)
“Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure” (Disney)
“A Town Called Panic” (Studio Canal)