Open Field: The 2011 Animated Oscar Race
Here is where the real bubble starts. If all 18 films entered get approved there will be five nominees. If three fall off for whatever reason, there will only be four nominees. That puts a film like Puss in Boots right on the edge. It was largely well-received, but it could easily fade in the mind come voting time. DreamWorks has been pushing Guillermo del Toro involvement as an advisor, which will help.
Not helping either DreamWorks release is that neither stands out from the other, which could create camps and ultimately keep both out of nominations. I'm giving Puss in Boots a slight edge because frankly it seems like Kung Fu Panda 2 came out a year ago and it didn't live up to the lofty expectations of the original. But the positive news of it receiving the most Annie nominations gives it a late push that it needs.
Without the uniqueness factor that Rango has, the earlier in the year release of this Carnival-themed feature will have one thing going against it. Another thing it has going against it is that it skews young. But what it has going for it is that when you look over the major releases of the year, it is one of the better animated film released this year. But it's going to need a push from Fox to get voters to remember that.
GKIDS knows something about having its small released films getting into the Big Show. If there is going to be a Secret of Kells of 2011, it most likely will be this film. The house cat by day cay burglar by night story is fun. It's played at festivals around the globe so it has been seen. And certainly with the higher profile releases being a tad weaker this year, it is certainly conceivable that a quality smaller film steals a spot.
If it's not A Cat in Paris in the "where did that film come from" slot, it could be this one. But it has a steeper row because it has no U.S. distribution yet. It has no one in the States really pushing it. But the nomination committee has to see it and the word is it is very good. It has both humor and heart in a story about two friends in a retirement home where one tries to keep his friend out of the dreaded Alzheimer's ward.