This past week saw the release of Dreamworks Animation's Rise of the Guardians, a decent animated film that most should enjoy, but it definitely doesn't scream "Best of the Year!" in a way that will have it topping the Best Animated Feature field as I had it poised to do. Instead it looks like a "maybe" nominee in the face of a middling year for animation from the major studios where Disney certainly comes out on top with Frankenweenie and Wreck-It Ralph, but if GKIDS does a little better job of making sure voters and pundits see their films we could be looking at only the second time a major studio doesn't win for Best Animated Oscar other than Spirited Away in 2003*.
However, for GKIDS to tally a win they are going to have to face-off against the current front-runner in Wreck-It Ralph, a film that has been widely accepted for its quality and is also doing well at the box-office. Earlier this year The Lorax, Madagascar 3 and Ice Age: Continental Drift were big at the box-office, but not-so-much with critics. Then you have films such as Frankenweenie and ParaNorman, which both did well with critics, but not so much at the box-office.
You could also point to Brave considering it's a Pixar entry, but Pixar is always going to be compared against itself and while many critics gave this film an unearned pass I think most of us can at least admit it is far from the quality of previous Pixar releases and, on top of that, a lesser film compared to many of this year's animated releases.
This leaves GKIDS and their prime entry appears to be Jean-Francois Laguionie's Le Tableau (The Painting), a film that has been playing festivals as of late and earning plenty of high marks along the way. Here's the synopsis followed by the trailer:
Wildly imaginative tale introduces an artist's three-cast system: the Alldunns who live in a rich castle; the Halfies, drawings that aren't quite completed; and the Sketchies, charcoal line drawings who live in the forest. They all fall off the canvas into the artist's studio, looking for clues to their own existence.
Le Tableau did, however, lose France's Cesar award to another GKIDS entry in The Rabbi's Cat, which could very well give the small studio a pair of nominations, but I haven't heard or read as much about that one so I'm just going to have to wait until I get a chance.
That said, my top five predicted nominees currently looks like this:
- Wreck-It Ralph
- Le Tableau
- Rise of the Guardians
I almost put The Rabbi's Cat in that fifth slot, but I'm not quite ready to bounce a film from first to out of the nomination bracket after only five days in theaters.
To see my full list, ranking all 21 contenders click here.
* Yes, I know Disney distributed Spirited Away (alongside GKIDS), but I still look at it as a win for Studio Ghibli more than a major studio victory.