Oscarthon: Best Animated Feature

What a great, great category this year. Apparently it takes 16 animated films in a year to expand the nominations to five, and we just barely squeaked by in '09.

There's your obligatory Pixar, an old-school hand-drawn Disney film, two great claymation entires (one based on a book by my favorite author), and just when you thought the last spot would go to a generic crowd-pleaser like Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, along comes an unheralded but awesome-looking Irish sleeper.

1. Coraline

Neil Gaiman would be the aforementioned favorite author of mine (better luck next time, Roald Dahl), and while Stardust was passable entertainment, Henry Selick's Coraline is by far superior in both overall quality and in capturing the spirit of Gaiman's work, seamlessly blending fright with wonder.

Dakota Fanning manages not to annoy the stuffing out of me in pure voice form, and beyond Teri Hatcher every other choice is a ringer: John Hodgman, Ian McShane, Dawn and French, and even a brief cameo by a They Might Be Giant.

2. Fantastic Mr. Fox

Not only would I have included this in the Best Picture race over Up, I would also venture that it was grieviously overlooked for both Adapted Screenplay and Art Direction- isn't set decoration harder when it's really, really small?

3. The Princess and the Frog

Didn't see it, sure it's fun, and so on. Not sure if I ever will, even though frogs are my favorite animals.

4. The Secret Of Kells

This hasn't been released in the U.S. as of yet, but my "friend" who lives in "Ireland" and has no idea what a torrent is whatsoever saw it and told me it was amazing.

A visually mesmerizing, hand-crafted style and Bruno Callais' painfully-snubbed score support a story set in the 9th century about monks, vikings, forest spirits, and an adorable cat. It's snappy, but has the straightforward, unexplained mysticism of a Miyazaki film.

...or so I hear.

5. Up

See the previous post on how this film was fine enough, but not a home run- more Cars than Wall-E, at least for me. But there's pretty much no way it's losing, unless enough people fall in love with The Secret of Kells- and hey, they're technically required to see all five before voting.

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