Oscars 2010: Best Animated Feature


What a year for animation. I mentioned it back when I did my 2009 Year in Review but I can’t state it enough. With the advances in CGI and some of the brightest minds in filmmaking (namely the folks at Pixar and one could argue James Cameron), the animated storytelling medium is rivaling its live action counterpart more than anyone ever expected. The expanded Best Animated Feature category (up to five films this year from three) might have a clear winner this year, but it’s truly a celebration of all things animated unlike anything the Oscars has ever seen. I truly hope next Sunday’s ceremony reflects this with a creative award presentation and/or tribute.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

  • Up (Review)
  • The Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • The Princess and the Frog (Review)
  • Coraline (Review)
  • The Secret of Kells

This category is so loaded that when The Secret of Kells was announced as a nominee it immediately caught the curiosity of just about everyone and earned itself a US release date this coming month. The Irish fantasy adventure is about a boy who must overcome quite an ordeal to complete a magical book. Sorry, the summary on imdb was dizzying, it was the best I could do.

“Kells” might not have a chance at winning, but it’s testament to the power of the medium right now. Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo wasn’t even nominated and it was quite another imaginative feat from the anime master.

Other good films that will be bypassed in this category are Coraline and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. “Meatballs” is creeping up my Netflix queue, so I can’t testify that it’s as enjoyable as I’ve heard for a kid-focused film, but Coraline was an impressive stop-motion feat by Henry Selick, one that is certainly not for all children as it’s a bit scary. I spoke about Wallace & Gromit creator Nick Park as the master of the stop-motion in the animated short category, but Selick is really the father of the medium as he directed the classic The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Before we get to the likely winner, Fantastic Mr. Fox deserves its own paragraph. Raved about by many critics and in some cases chosen over the likely winner by area film critic associations, Wes Anderson’s stop-motion telling of Roald Dahl’s story was massively overlooked by the public. Part of the problem was that Fox Searchlight didn’t give it the full release it deserved, but I think they knew that parents were going to say “it wasn’t a child’s film” and it would hurt the movie’s reputation. Perhaps I will post my thoughts about kids movies in the near feature, but for now let me just say that despite Anderson’s unique sense of humor, the film should not have been treated this way. I haven’t seen it, so I won’t argue vehemently, but I will as soon as I possibly can get my hands on a DVD. It says a lot when some critics chose this over Up.

That brings us to said uncontested favorite, Pixar’s Up. If Toy Story 3 came out last year instead of this summer, I think we would be crowning “Fox” or “Coraline” the winner, but for the third year in a row now we got a genre-defying piece of art from the folks at Pixar, this time under the direction of Bob Peterson and Pete Docter. I think many people saw this film as a bit childish, but when a film can be good and offer something for generations young and old, it’s a tremendous accomplishment.

Prediction: Up

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