Animation Consternation

AMPAS today released the full list of titles eligible for the Animated Feature category, and unfortunately the final tally of qualifying films ran to only 15, one shy of the magic number of 16 needed for there to be 5 nominees in the category instead of just 3. It’s an unfortunate step back for a category that seemed to take a big leap last year, when there were 5 nominees out of 20 qualifying titles, and the quality of the slate was on the whole far above the usual: “Up,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Coraline,” The Princess and the Frog” and “The Secret of Kells” was top-to-bottom an incredibly deserving list, especially considering films like “Ponyo,” “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and “Mary & Max” were left out in the cold, even though they probably would’ve been strong contenders in other years.

This year, if we’re forced to whittle the list down to three, the category is already all but decided: you can write in nominations for “Toy Story 3” and “How to Train Your Dragon” in pen. The third spot could be tricky: “The Illusionist” seems like a good bet, considering Sylvain Chomet’s first feature, “The Triplets of Belleville,” also made the cut with only three nominees back in 2004. The film recently landed stateside in limited release, though, and surprisingly hasn’t caught fire with critics the way response to its tour around the European film festivals earlier this year would indicate. Still, Chomet is a well known and respected figure in the animation business, and even for pure visual beauty the film could squeeze in a nomination the same way “Secret of Kells” did (I mean, have you seen the latest trailer? Or the still above? This movie looks GORGEOUS). I would say its primary competition for the third spot is Disney’s “Tangled,” which has the nostalgic, classic fairy-tale theme going for it even if Disney has for some reason quickly abandoned 2-D again. There’s also the competing studio super-villain flicks, “Despicable Me” and “Megamind,” both of which were/are considerable box office successes. On the outside are indie dark horses like “Idiots and Angels,” “My Dog Tulip” and “Summer Wars.” As “Secret of Kells” proved, this is a category where little-known long shots can prevail in the end if the Animation Committee members are really blown away.

We’ll see how some of the precursors go, although there really are no reliable predictors for this category. The HFPA will likely have 5 nominees at the Golden Globes this year, so they’re no help in narrowing it down, and the Annie Awards are the people who let “Kung Fu Panda” win over “WALL-E” in pretty much every category a couple years ago. For now, I’m sticking with my gut call of “Toy Story 3,” “How to Train Your Dragon” and “The Illusionist.”

Also, side note: WordPress decided to get rid of the blog Theme that I was using, so I had to replace it with an incredibly similar one, which gave me the opportunity to mess around with the design a bit. I think I’m definitely going to change up the header photo more often now (the new one is from “Paris, Texas,” if you don’t know), but I’m not decided on the color scheme. Might just go back to the basic white background, the colors are a bit garish for my taste and they kind of clash with the photos I post. Any opinion?

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