Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures
Since Up is the only animated film with an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, expect it to float to the top of the Best Animated Feature category without any trouble. But how good is it really? To know that, you'd at least have to compare it to Oscar's previous Best Animated Feature winners. The category was created in 2001 (sorry, Beauty and the Beast), and the nominees are almost exclusively family films. The winners: Shrek (2001), Spirited Away (2002), Finding Nemo (2003), The Incredibles (2004), Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005), Happy Feet (2006), Ratatouille (2007), and Wall-E (2008).
In my personal assessments below, I'm excluding two I haven't seen and which are vastly different than the others: The anime-zing Spirited Away and Wallace & Gromit. (Frankly, I haven't been interested in claymation since Mr. Bill.)
The most dreadful of the winners, and in fact of all the nominees, is Happy Feet, which to me is like a Penguins of Madagascar episode lobotomized of its ingenuity, humor, kid-appropriateness and story.
I'll admit to liking Shrek when I first saw it. Certainly ahead of its time technically, Shrek's standing would soon be dwarfed by films with stronger hearts, fewer out-of-context jokes, and richer, more unique storylines. Shrek also pioneered the tradition of annoyingly irrelevant pop-song-cover endings.
Wall-E, for all of its sweet inventiveness, just flat-out entertained me less than the others (and honestly bored my kids numb). That leaves Finding Nemo, Up, Ratatouille, and The Incredibles.
These are all fantastic films, but in the competitive spirit of last week, I'll give Finding Nemo the Gold(fish) Medal. The Incredibles made me laugh more, Ratatouille was the most original, and Up brought me closest to tears, but Nemo has the most hypnotic combination of heart, hysteria, and humor. Ellen Degeneres herself deserves an Oscar for her voicework.
Before the Academy has a shot to prove me completely wrong about Up, make a contrary case yourself by chiming in below!