'The Secret Of Kells' Is A Best Animated Feature Oscar Nominee... But What Is It?!

When the 2010 Oscar nominations arrived earlier this week, there weren't a whole lot of surprises to be found. One of the bigger ones was found in the Best Animated Feature category. Among guaranteed contenders "Fantastic Mr. Fox," "Coraline," "The Princess and the Frog" and Pixar's "Up," there was an odd film out. Instead of one of the expected titles, "A Christmas Carol" or "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs," there was this movie that few could identify, "The Secret of Kells."

The movie, which opens in Boston on March 19 and expands to other markets (including New York and Los Angeles) on April 2, is the work of writer/director/composer/producer Tomm Moore. The art design, as you can see above, is quite striking (click the image to check out our full "Kells" gallery). But you're probably curious to know more about the movie, right? Bone up after the break.

The story follows a young man named Brendan, who is trapped in a fortress under siege by barbarian hordes when the story opens. He gets an opportunity to leave that life behind however when an "illuminator" (a sorcerer perhaps?) shows up with an ancient book imbued with great power. It turns out that the tome is incomplete however, and Brendan sets off on an adventure to finish it. Along the way he meets Aisling, a young wolf-girl who joins him on his quest.

The movie comes from the producers of imported animated features "Kirikou and the Sorceress" and "Triplets of Belleville!" I'll be very curious to check this one out. There were some strong animated releases last year, and I was frankly shocked that "Cloudy" was left out. "Kells" must be special indeed to be listed alongside those other juggernauts.

Have you seen/heard anything about "The Secret of Kells"? Are you planning to check it out when it hits theaters?