Last year represented a milestone in feature animation with Walt Disney Studios returning to their roots, bringing "The Princess and the Frog" to life at 24 glorious, hand-drawn frames per second. While it was a moderate success, let's face it –- computer animation is here to stay.
Today, a whopping 15 features have been accepted "for consideration" in the Animated Feature Film category for the 83rd Academy Awards, which will be narrowed down to three official nominees. Only five of the fifteen are traditionally hand-drawn.
That's not to say that these films are all redundant, not by a long shot. The obvious front-runner is Pixar's "Toy Story 3," a modern masterpiece and instant classic that extended Pixar's flawless record to 11-for-11. With many considering the third adventure of Woody and Buzz to be the best of the trilogy, it'll be difficult for the rest of these films to go to infinity and beyond come Oscar time.
The strongest competition will likely come from DreamWorks' "How To Train Your Dragon" and Universal's “Despicable Me," both holding their own against Pixar this year, with "Toothless the Dragon" and supervillain "Gru" winning over audiences and critics alike.
But don't rule out Disney's own "Tangled," which will be relying on songwriting vet Alan Menken to recapture the magic he brought to "The Little Mermaid," "Aladdin" and "Beauty and the Beast" – which broke the mold back in 1991 when it was the first animated feature ever to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Perhaps this will be the year where that same magic happens again, as Disney/Pixar are actively campaigning for "Toy Story 3" to achieve the same recognition.
The 15 features are:
"Alpha and Omega"
"Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore"
"The Dreams of Jinsha"
"How to Train Your Dragon"
"Idiots and Angels"
"Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole"
"My Dog Tulip"
"Shrek Forever After"
"Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue"
"Toy Story 3"
So what about you? Have any favorites that stand out? Which would you choose as your favorite three animated films of 2010?
You can find out how you stack up when The 83rd Academy Awards nominations are announced on Jan. 25. The ceremony is set for Sunday, Feb. 27.