We can officially add ‘A Christmas Carol’ to the animated list

Posted by · 11:23 am · October 8th, 2009

Gary Oldman in A Christmas CarolYesterday we covered the animated feature film race and the potential for the category to have five nominees this year, largely dependent on Robert Zemeckis’s “A Christmas Carol” being submitted as animation (a decision completely in his hands).  As it turns out, the film will indeed be submitted for consideration.

That, along with “Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure” brings the tally up to 16 titles.  Some are expressing doubts that “Tinker Bell” can qualify, but I’m told the film “looks great, is made professionally, and will receive a theatrical run in LA, so those are the criteria.”  Still, being right on the edge, this thing could go either way.

I’m still waiting on confirmation that the French film “A Town Called Panic” had a qualifying run or will have one (mass confusion), and ditto Summit’s “Astro Boy,” but that would be 17 and the absolute ceiling (by my calculation) on the number of submitted titles.

Assuming five nominees, here’s what I’m thinking…

“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” (Columbia Pictures)
“Coraline” (Focus Features)
“Ponyo” (Walt Disney Pictures)
“Fantastic Mr. Fox” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
“Up” (Walt Disney Pictures)

I want to include Shane Acker’s “9,” which would seem like a no-brainer with five nominees.  But I’m struggling to find a place for it.  Maybe “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” is weaker than I suspect (doubtful).  Disney could have a tough time getting two traditionally animated films in, so I’m putting “The Princess and the Frog” on the outside for now (which is so hard considering the esteem commanded by the filmmakers in the field).

Perhaps “Fantastic Mr. Fox” won’t catch on (it’s my #5) with the branch.  But I sincerely doubt Dreamworks will have much stroke with “Monsters vs. Aliens,” so I guess those seven titles are the ones in the conversation.

We’ll see how it plays out.  Check the Contenders section to view all comers.

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25 responses so far

  • 1 10-08-2009 at 11:28 am

    Bill M. said...

    Fantastic Mr. Fox is not going to get in.

    To exclude A Christmas Carol and Princess & the Frog seems pretty crazy. They’ll both be huge hits. Zemeckis’s previous snubs and Disney’s return to classic handrawn weigh much more than auteur like Anderson make his animated directorial debut (honestly I don’t think the animated branch will take this one over P&TF)

  • 2 10-08-2009 at 11:30 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Not that it will happen in a million years, but I’m with “Mary and Max.”

  • 3 10-08-2009 at 11:32 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Bill: Beowulf wasn’t nominated. No one expects A Christmas Carol to be.

    But maybe Fox is weak. We’ll see. Like I said, #5. My instinct is to go with Princess over Fox (which will probably be indicated in Monday’s predictions update).

  • 4 10-08-2009 at 11:34 am

    david said...

    I agree with your thoughts…except I think Princess & the Frog probably gets in over Fantastic Mr. Fox.

  • 5 10-08-2009 at 11:38 am

    Rob said...

    Watch for “Fantastic Mr. Fox” to be much better liked than people are expecting.

    Will be Anderson’s biggest critical hit since at least “Tenenbaums” methinks…

  • 6 10-08-2009 at 11:40 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Mary and Max is actually a very real possibility, Guy.

  • 7 10-08-2009 at 11:53 am

    Brian said...

    Since the animated category was created, was there ever an animated film that scored a Best Song nomination and not a Best Animated nomination?

    Just curious.

  • 8 10-08-2009 at 11:54 am

    red_wine said...

    The Princess and The Frog is arriving with so much fanfare as a return to traditional animation which so many people love, that I cant imagine it not being nominated. I personally am really looking forward to it and it looks rather beautiful.

    I would say Up, Coraline, Ponyo and Frog along with maybe Fox will make it. That seriously seems like a very good line-up of films. This line-up will certainly beat the Best Pic line-up in terms of critical acclaim.

  • 9 10-08-2009 at 12:00 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Kris: Really? That would be amazing. I suppose five nominations could permit a slot for an artier niche contender, after all.

    Does the film have (or has it had) a U.S. release date? IMDB offers nothing.

  • 10 10-08-2009 at 12:01 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    IFC/Sundance Selects. And the DVD release is October 21, I believe.


  • 11 10-08-2009 at 12:02 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Brian: “The Polar Express” and “The Wild Thornberries,” if memory serves. No others come to mind (I’m too lazy to look it up).

  • 12 10-08-2009 at 12:04 pm

    A.J said...

    “Father and Daughter” — The Wild Thornberrys Movie

    “Believe” — The Polar Express

  • 13 10-08-2009 at 12:31 pm

    Peter Debruge said...

    Not that James Cameron would dream of submitting it, but I have no doubt that AVATAR is “animated enough” to qualify. That would certainly make the category interesting.

    I love what I’ve seen of this year’s animated lineup, and I’m delighted that A TOWN CALLED PANIC landed distribution. The stop-motion is extremely crude (sorta ROBOT CHICKEN-style), but the humor is just terrific.

  • 14 10-08-2009 at 12:57 pm

    Mike said...

    I can’t possibly see 9 making it into a lineup of 5. It just didn’t catch on and it seems to me at least that it’s already being forgotten. A solid campaign might help, but it’s pretty obvious that Focus is going to be pushing Coraline before 9. And with Mary and Max, I just think that Ponyo will snatch up the vast majority of votes going outside the mainstream. They’re pushing it hard, but I don’t know if enough voters will actually see it or not.

    So I think it’s down to seven contenders with Up, Ponyo, Princess, Cloudy, Mr. Fox, Coraline, and Christmas Carol. Right now I’m note sure people are really going to go for what Anderson is offering with Fantastic Mr. Fox, and I don’t think anyone really expects A Christmas Carol to be THAT good, so they’re the ones I’d leave off. So long as The Princess and the Frog isn’t, well, bad, I can’t possibly see it missing in a field of five. Cloudy, Coraline, and Ponyo would all be about equally vulnerable if the Academy decides they just really really NEED to throw Zemeckis a bone.

  • 15 10-08-2009 at 12:59 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Coraline is not vulnerable at ALL in this race.

  • 16 10-08-2009 at 2:28 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    9 is dead in the water, entirely

  • 17 10-08-2009 at 4:15 pm

    Joel said...

    Regarding animated films already released: “Up” is going to win this. There’s no doubt about that. “Coraline” will probably be the second thing on everyone’s mind. I don’t think anyone’s doubting “Ponyo,” which has never lost momentum from the critical circles. “Monsters vs. Aliens” and “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” never had much momentum, and I don’t think anyone remembers “Battle for Terra.” “9” never caught on, word-of-mouth was bad (for a very good reason), and it was widely panned by critics and forgotten a week later. Speaking of, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” will be the big surprise here.

    Regarding nonreleased animation: I think nearly everyone is waiting for “A Christmas Carol” to either succeed or fail,” while “The Princess and the Frog” is, I think, guaranteed to be a winner. “Astro Boy” will get nothing, nada, zippo. “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” well, it’s hard to tell until buzz starts.

    Regarding animation in limbo: “Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure”??? No, sorry, they’re not going there. It won’t even make the final ten. “Mary and Max” is a lost cause, as it was never given much release and the DVD is coming out soon; it’s not a “Persepolis” situation, because that film WAS released.

  • 18 10-08-2009 at 4:54 pm

    Peter Debruge said...

    The smartest thing Focus could do is NOT submit 9, thereby keeping the total number of submissions under 16 and improving CORALINE’s chances.

    Disney, meanwhile, has something to prove, and wouldn’t it be dandy for all three of their babies (UP, PONYO and PRINCESS & THE FROG) to be nominated, “proving” that a new golden age of Disney animation is upon us? (CHRISTMAS CAROL is theirs, too, but Zemeckis doesn’t think of his films as toons, and I’m convinced he’s submitting merely to boost the odds of the other Disney entries.)

  • 19 10-08-2009 at 5:44 pm

    Luke Gorham said...

    Kris: You think the Academy response for “Cloudy” will be as generous as the critical response? It seems like its relatively low profile could definitely hurt it compared to some of these bigger entries.

  • 20 10-08-2009 at 11:00 pm

    movielocke said...

    it seems obvious that Disney is scheduling the run for Tinkerbell solely to get enough films submitted that they can have a five category race. they know Up is nominated, but they’re worried about Christmas Carol and Princess and the Frog canceling each other out, they’d like both nommed, but they need five nominees in order to guarantee the Princess and the Frog Slot.

    So Up is the only lock, imo, in a five horse race you can add in Princess and the Frog and probably Fox as locks. That leaves two spaces and three films realistically fighting for it (Coraline, Ponyo and Christmas Carol) my money would be on Coral and Carol securing the last two spots with Ponyo left out in the cold.

    I think we can be sure that Disney will get three nominees because they have, by far, the most nominating ballots that will be submitted. So all the Pixar employees will be putting Up as their number one, and all the Disney employees on Frog will be putting Frog their number one, and Up their number two (I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney made an effort to have the Frog nominators put Carol their number two and the Carol nominators put Frog their number two). So with Disney essentially blocking out the vast majority of the nominees with their one two and three votes those three seem most likely. That leaves Ponyo, a film likely to get a lot of three votes, but I think many animators will like the stop motion dynamo of Fox and Coraline more than Miyazaki’s gloriously animated, gorgeous, but almost plotless confection.

    it really boils down to: are the nominating animators (all adults) going to vote for the all ages Coraline, the adult quirky skewing Fox, or the young child skewing Ponyo?

    (Ponyo is one of my favorite films of the year, because of its assured sense of confidence in simplicity, but I think it is the sixth film that gets left out in the cold in a year that is an embarassment of riches in high quality animation releases)

    And I didn’t mention it, but Carol (expensive) and Frog (experimental, really) both need the validation of a nomination, imo, so I really do think that ballot stuffing and company solidarity is going to happen with Disney/Pixar.

  • 21 10-09-2009 at 12:18 am

    Dreams said...

    What an ankward prediction.
    I’m pretty surprised how people are underestimating the chances of The princess and the frog. I’m sure it not only going to be nominated but it is for sure the winner of this year’s race. It has everything: animation filed support, it’s Disney, a musical, the return to handdrawn animation, a classic tale, black stars, even John Lasseter is promoting himself the movie. It will do great at BO and it has a great release date.

    There’s no way 9 will make it. That movie is a disaster.

    I think Ponyo, Coraline, Up and The princess and the frog are locks. Yeah, locks. There’s only place for another movie and this fifth spot is the one the other movies are going to fight for.

  • 22 10-09-2009 at 10:00 am

    Estefan said...

    I think you’re absolutely insane for not predicting The Princess and the Frog as that’s practically a shoe-in. Early word-of-mouth is extremely positive and the buzz among the animation industry is very high. If anything, it’s Up’s major competition for the award.

    I don’t think Christmas Carol will get in. They seem to have an aversion towards motion-picture animation (see The Polar Express’ lack of a nod).

  • 23 10-09-2009 at 11:06 am

    "Julianstark" said...

    Estefan is right… plus we all know how much the Academy really loves Jim Carrey…

    Oh wait…

  • 24 10-10-2009 at 2:23 pm

    CJ said...

    I agree with the above that the following are default nominees:

    –The Princess and the Frog (saw work-in-progress; it’s through the roof)

    My guess for the 5th slot is Monsters vs. Aliens, as the biggest box office on the current tally, but I think 9 might have a shot on the basis of its inventive design. If the field expands, I’m looking forward to an exciting race!

  • 25 10-10-2009 at 3:04 pm

    The Other James D. said...

    I don’t think fellow animators would nominate MvsA over CwaCoM, so I think that gets the fifth slot.