OW's Oscarwatchmen at work, Day 4: Animated Feature

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Or Countdown to Oscars 2012 When We'll Pretend Cars 2 Didn't Suck Exhaust Pipe Cause At Least It's Not Puss in Boots or Happy Feet 2.

Cue the boos ... I'm about to piss a bunch of people off.

Here's the deal: Even though I have two kids which forces me to watch more animated kiddie movies in a week than any of our other crits will see in a lifetime, I'm perceived as a grouch about them. Maybe it has something to do with me comparing Despicable Me to pedophilia, or essentially called Coraline a retard or that I thought, on retrospect, that Toy Story 2 wasn't that great or that Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole induced in me a genuine paranoia freakout or that, even though the estimable Mr. Boylan gave Up 5 stars in our paper, I secretly thought it was the worst movie of 2009.

I could go on. And I think I'm starting to see their point. But I'm harsh because I love. Nothing makes me happier than when an animated film works – really works – and gives me thrills, chills and (in the case of most Pixar films not named Up or Cars) giant man-tears.

Two animated films did that to me this year. One of them is nominated in this category. The other is the actual best animated feature of the year: Tangled. But more on that elsewhere.

The nominees:

Toy Story 3 (Disney/Pixar)

How To Train Your Dragon (DreamWorks)

The Illusionist (Sony Pictures Classics)

Analysis:

Toy Story 3 got me, it's true. But until the end, as my review clearly states, I was unimpressed. It will win, and among these nominees, it's my ultimate pick. But without that coda, Michael Arndt would have some explaining to do.

How To Train Your Dragon was solid through and through, funny and soaring and beautiful looking. But here's the thing: I really had to work at remembering it. It's not something that became a standard in our household or spawned merch for me to step on in the middle of the night. It seemed like a good movie that faded very quickly from my memory very soon afterward. Not really the mark of an Oscar great.

The Illusionist: The Prestige was way better and Ed Norton just isn't believable as anyone but Ed Norton anymore. Huh? Oh, sorry. The Tati thing. Didn't see it.

The Winner: Toy Story 3. [Editor's Note: ... oh, right.] Me Note: Instant Prediction: Disney Animation will have its vengeance this time next year when Winnie the Pooh dick-slaps Lightning McQueen and the gang. You're welcome for that visual.

Stay tuned all weekend for more, all the way up to the ceremony. And there's still time to enter that Get In Media Oscar-picks contest for a flip phone! Good night!

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