Animated films could impact Oscars

Mon Nov 9, 2009 11:48pm EST
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By Steven Zeitchik

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - As the buzz on a best-picture nomination for "WALL-E" hit a fever pitch last year, one Pixar confided: "This is it. This is our last chance. After this year, we're out of the awards game."

Well, perhaps not.

The Oscar buzz this year couldn't be higher for Pixar's "Up," not only for best animated category but for best picture, thanks in part to a lucky-to-be-born late blessing of 10 best-picture nominations (up from the usual five).

A dual accolade would make history: The only instance of an animated movie being nominated for best film was "Beauty of the Beast" in 1991, long before the best animated feature category existed.

A double nomination also would create complications -- and not only for executives at Pixar and its Disney parent who might have to shell out some extra coin on a broader campaign.

Pixar and director Pete Docter might hope that the best-picture momentum will carry it to a victory in the animation category. But for some voters, it could slice the other way, prompting them to choose something else in animation because they've already put "Up" high on their best picture ballot. (In that sense, "Up" would be unlucky to be nominated twice.)

The "Up" conundrum isn't the only drama playing out this year. The animation race is more wide open than ever, thanks to a likely five slots, which are possible (though not mandated) if the Academy qualifies at least 16 animated releases. Some 20 films are said to have been submitted this year. That, in turn, could charge up more than a few dark horses.

"There's real anticipation this year because of the possibility we're finally going to hit the magic number of 16, which would be a real bonus for many of the smaller pictures at the box office and on DVD," says Animation Magazine's Ramin Zahed. "We say that every year, but this year there's a real feeling it could happen."   Continued...

<p>An animatronic robot of the character Wall-E is displayed at the world premiere of Disney-Pixar's film "Wall-E" in Los Angeles, California June 21, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>