Dragons, robots, trolls run tight race for animation Oscar
By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - With the surprise snub of a front-runner and five nominees featuring dragons, trolls, robots and mythical creatures, the Oscar for best animated film may deliver the most exciting race this year.
Disney Animation's "Big Hero 6," DreamWorks Animation's "How to Train Your Dragon 2," Laika Studios' "The Boxtrolls," Studio Ghibli's "The Tale of the Princess Kaguya" and Cartoon Saloon's "Song of the Sea" will compete for the Academy Award for animated feature.
But the exclusion of Time Warner Inc-owned Warner Bros' "The Lego Movie," last year's top-grossing animated film with more than $257 million at the U.S. box office, stunned even those in the industry.
"It was a big shock to me. I saw the movie and loved it," said Dean DeBlois, co-director of "Dragon 2," about a Viking named Hiccup and his dragon, Toothless.
With no clear favorite, the animation race is likely between big-budget spectaculars such as "Big Hero 6" and "Dragon 2," and niche artistry of films such as "The Boxtrolls."
"Big Hero 6," an ambitious work from an animation studio often overshadowed by its more flashy Disney sibling Pixar, fused Japanese influences into a Marvel-inspired tale of boy genius Hiro who befriends a robot and forms a superhero ensemble.
"We're reaching a broad audience without compromising," said co-director Chris Williams. "We're making films that audiences want to come see, but they're still products of passion."