Friday, February 5, 2010

Oscar Time

Now that my article has had a little breathing room, I can talk about one of the big news stories in the animation world this week: the 2010 Academy Award nominations. With five nominees in the Best Animated Feature category, five shorts vying for Best Animated Short, and either one or two animated films up for Best Picture - depending on whether you buy Cartoon Brew's argument or James Cameron's - it's a pretty exciting year for animation fans.

In case you haven't heard, here are the nominees for Best Animated Feature Film:

If you're keeping track, that's two puppet animated films, two hand-drawn, and one computer animated. It makes for a nice reminder to the general public that feature animation isn't just computer animation. The other big news in animated features is that Up is also among the ten nominees for Best Picture. It's a great acknowledgment for a film I really enjoyed, but I don't see it winning the big prize. I don't think the Academy is ready to give their top award to an animated film just yet, which is why you have James Cameron tying himself in knots trying to claim that Avatar is not an animated film. Besides, they can still reward Up by giving it one of the six other awards it's up for, including Best Animated Feature, which I think it has strong chances of winning. I mean, look at it logically. Of all the Best Animated Film nominees, Up is the only one to also be nominated as one of the ten best films of the year, period. It's not a complete lock; Fantastic Mr. Fox has been getting a lot of praise from film critics and could give Up some stiif competition. But I think the Best Picture nomination gives Up a slight edge. For a long time, the Best Animated Short Film category was notable to the general public more for the animated characters who "presented" the award than the nominated films. As studios stopped making shorts - animated or otherwise - the nominees went from films you could see at your local theater to film that you had to seek out at animation festivals. But the short format has had something of a comeback in recent years, with studios like Pixar and DreamWorks creating new shorts to run in front of their animated films. And between DVD and the internet, it's much easer to see the animated shorts that may not be running in the local multiplex. This year, Cartoon Brew has links to all five nominees so you can view them online. The Best Animated Short Film nominees are: My guess for the film that will win is A Matter of Loaf and Death. The Academy has generally been kind to Wallace and Gromit and Aardman. None of the nominated films have visuals that feel all that innovative or unique, so the prize will likely go to the most filmgoer-friendly film with the strongest story. Which films should win Best Animated Feature and Best Animated Short? For now, that's for you to discuss in the comments.

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