Oscars 2012: Best Animated Feature and Foreign Film Predictions

Considering the high bar set these days for animation, Best Animated Feature seems to be the only category with an upward trajectory at the Academy Awards. While the music categories and documentary categories need some serious fixing, the right animated features seem to be in contention each year. Best Foreign Film tends to still be a mystery to most people, but exposure has increased through video on-demand and Netflix and such.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

  • “A Cat in Paris”
  • “Chico and Rita”
  • “Puss in Boots”
  • “Rango”
  • “Kung Fu Panda 2″

Foreign animated films make me a little nervous, but it’s pretty safe to say we have one of few locks at the Oscars this year coming in this category. With “Cars 2” not hitting the board, it would seem a free-for-all, but animation had a bit of a downer year in 2011, which is fair considering the quality of the last two years.

DreamWorks has two films in Puss in Boots and Kung Fu Panda 2, a great achievement for the studio that gets overlooked for Pixar constantly because its films are never as avant garde. That said, this should hurt both films in the voting.

Chico and Rita and A Cat in Paris should be noted as the “happy to be here” films in the category. We saw “The Secret of Kells” get a nomination in 2010, if for nothing else but to add balance when the category ends up five-films wide.

Obviously, that leaves us with Rango. Gore Verbinski’s film has been honored by nearly every critics association and also won the Annie and the BAFTA for Best Animated Feature. It lost the Golden Globe, but to “The Adventures of Tintin,” which is not amongst the competition. Considering that it honors Hollywood Westerns in addition to being the best film of the five from a visual standpoint, it’s hard to see this losing.

Prediction: “Rango”


Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

  • “A Separation” (Iran)
  • “Bullhead” (Belgium)
  • “In Darkness” (Poland)
  • “Monsieur Lazhar” (Canada)
  • “Footnote” (Israel)

Having cleaned up most major awards and earned a Best Screenplay nomination, A Separation would have to be considered a lock for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, right?

If only the Academy didn’t have a history of robbing some of the most notable foreign films of the last decade of Oscars. “Amelie,” “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “A Prophet” are some of the recent snubs.

So who could beat it? Israel tends to have lots of films nominated, but usually doesn’t win, so I rule out Footnote, a film about a complicated father-son relationship as both are rival talmudic studies professors. As for Monsieur Lazhar, Canada gave us a stronger French-language film last year in “Incendies” that did not win, so it’s tough to imagine “Lazhar” getting it done. The film centers on an Algerian immigrant who steps in for a recently deceased elementary school teacher.

Crime drama Bullhead from Belgium appears to be the unique film of the five, about a cattle farmer whose life spins a bit out of control in the wake of several events. Not quite last year’s “Dogtooth,” but certainly more of a reach than some of the other options.

Many people have chosen In Darkness as the dark horse for this category. The Polish drama offers yet another take on the Holocaust, this one about a thief who hides Jewish refugees in the sewers of his Nazi-occupied town.

Prediction: “A Separation”


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