First awarded in 2001, Best Animated Feature is the youngest of AMPAS’ competitive categories. The number of nominees in the category is determined according to how many films are eligible to be long listed. If there are at least eight eligible films, there will be three nominees. If there are sixteen or more, the category expands to five nominees. To qualify for the long list films have to be at least 70 minutes long and have had a theatrical release in Los Angeles during the qualifying year.
This year's nominees:
Coraline: Henry Selick's stop-motion film (the first stop-motion film to be made in 3D) took 3 and a half years to get to the big screen (2 years of pre-production; 18 months of filming) and became an instant classic. With 10 Annie nominations as well as PGA, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Critics Choice nominations for Best Animated Feature and notices from several critics groups, Coraline is in a good position going into Oscar night.
Fantastic Mr. Fox: Wes Anderson's first foray into animation would appear to be the greatest threat to Up's almost assured win in this category. Already rewarded with 2 awards from the Las Vegas Film Critics, one from LA and one from the New York Film Critics Circle, as well as a couple of Best Adapted Screenplay awards from various critics groups, Fantastic Mr. Fox has a great shot at pulling off an upset.
The Princess and the Frog: Disney's return to traditional, hand-drawn animation proved to be a hit with critics and audiences alike. The film is nominated for 7 Annie Awards, and nominated as Best Animated Feature at the PGAs, Golden Globes and Critics Choice.
The Secret of Kells: The surprise nominee in the category, though it did nab an Annie nomination as Best Animated Feature so I suppose it's not totally out of left field. I would be very surprised to see this one win, but then again I was surprised by the nomination, so there you go.
Up: The Animated Feature category is pretty much Up's to lose. What more is there to say? Pixar's well-deserved domination of the category seems likely to continue.