The Oscar for Animated Feature is marking its 11th year as a category and this year is only the third time that there are a full five films in the mix. This year also has one other historic element to note, its the first time in the history of the award that no Disney film is  nominated. I, personally speaking here, think that Cars 2 should have been nominated. Animation has had a down year in some peoples eyes, compared to the previous two where they’ve even managed a Best Picture nomination. Animation is one of my favorite genres and I will see just about any film that is released. I feel like I was one of the very few to see the cute and underrated Gnomeo and Juliet. With a crowded field of nominees this year, lets get down to business and see who might take home Mr. Oscar.

A Cat in Paris has to be one film that people are surprised by its nomination due to most having never heard of it. The Academy has never shied away from obscurity in this category so its no surprise to me. A Cat in Paris clocks in at just over an hour and is a fast paced animated homage to the thriller genre. The animation itself is similar to some other Euro nominees of the past. Its characters are simply drawn and put in front of extensive backgrounds. The majority of the film is at night and the use of the artificial lighting seems to give it that mysterious feel and gives an interesting animated view to Paris.

A Cat in Paris

Another obscure nominee would be Chico & Rita. A love story about to Cuban musicians during the 40’s and 50’s and all the hills and valleys that accompany success. Another film with very simplistic animation but vary vibrant colors. This is not a new story though. We’ve seen this with everything from Mambo Kings to El Cantante. This is, however, the first time I have seen this story animated. It was enjoyable, the simplicity of the animation and its narration allows your mind to dance with the wonderful soundtrack and get lost with the story. So even with a familiar story, I understand its nomination.

Chico & Rita

Kung Fu Panda 2 is up next. This movie was quite surprisingly good and very underrated. Its hard to expect much from any sequels, especially animated ones. With the exceptions of Shrek 2 and Toy Story 2, most fall rather flat. This was not the case here. This film took risks and was rewarded for them. A great story, enjoyable humor, progressing relationships and I think a step above the first installment. If you haven’t taken the time to see this film, maybe because Jack Black drives you crazy, go see it. Even Black’s character of Po seems to be more comfortably used.

Kung Fu Panda 2

A surprise film for me this year was Rango. I saw the trailers and just had no desire to see it. Nobody talked about it much and it seemed to slip on by. I finally got around to seeing this film and I was pleasantly surprised. Quite a clever story about a lizard and his adventure in a town that is in desperate need for water. The whole story takes place in the Mojave Desert, so you can guess what types of animals live there. I was very impressed with the vocal talent in the film, and thought that everyone was cast wonderfully. The music was enjoyable and, similar to Puss in Boots, you forget your watching an animated film. The crispiness of each characters appearance and the clever use of everyday human items in the animation is what was really fantastic. I drank 64oz of water while I watched it!

Rango

The last film nominated in the category is Puss in Boots. I loved this movie from about every angle. The story was great in taking fairytales that we know and weaving them together in another fashion. It was a brilliant spinoff on one of the best characters in Shrek. I reviewed this film back in October for Picktainment and I have not wavered from my initial thoughts. I said it would be nominated and it indeed is. While its animation style is similar to Rango and Kung Fu Panda 2, I still feel its a step above them.

Puss in Boots

Who will win?

While I think Rango was great, I think it will be the runner up to the Oscar winning film of Puss in Boots.

 

Road to the Oscars Series

January 27: Best Live Action Short – Kit Bowen

January 31: Best Animated Short – Savanna New

February 1: Best Documentary Short – Christa Youngpeter

February 2: Best Documentary – Dantzler Smith

February 3: Best Foreign Language Film – Steve Neumann

February 4: Best Visual Effects – Michael Benedict

February 5: Best Sound Editing – Michael Benedict

February 6: Best Sound Mixing – Joseph Doherty

February 7: Best Makeup – Katie Mae Peters

February 8: Best Costume Design – Jax Russo

February 9: Best Art Direction – Scott Youngbauer

February 10: Best Film Editing – Michael Benedict

February 11: Best Cinematography – Scott Youngbauer

February 12: Best Original Score – Adam Spunberg

February 13: Best Original Song – Adam Spunberg and Savanna New

February 14: Best Animated Feature Film – Steve Neumann

February 15: Best Adapted Screenplay – Jeremy Martin

February 16: Best Original Screenplay – Jeremy Martin

February 17: Best Supporting Actor – Joseph Doherty

February 18: Best Supporting Actress – Angela Stern

February 20: Best Actress – Andrew Payne

February 21: Best Actor – Kit Bowen

February 22: Best Director – Andrew Payne

February 23: Best Picture – Kit Bowen