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Oscar Contest - Category Highlight - Best Animated Feature / Best Documentary

February 17th, 2009

With our annual Oscar Prediction contest underway, now is the best time to look at the nominees and try and figure out who the favorites are and which films should just feel honored to be nominated. Today we look at Best Animated Feature Film and Best Feature Length Documentary.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

Bolt
Tomatometer Score: 87% Positive
Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe nomination and PGA nomination
Previous Major Wins: None
Annie Nominations: Five
Annie Wins: None
Notes: This is one of the least competitive Oscar categories with WALL-E having a 90% chance of winning. Unfortunately for Bolt, it would be a major underdog even if WALL-E had not been released this year.

Kung Fu Panda
Tomatometer Score: 88% Positive
Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe nomination and PGA nomination
Previous Major Wins: None
Annie Nominations: Seventeen
Annie Wins: Eleven
Notes: Strangely, while this movie earned reviews that were barely above Bolt's, it swept this year's Annie Awards while WALL-E was shut out. Having seen both, I disagree with these results. This movie did have more movement, which is technically difficult to pull off; however, Oscar voters will likely be more interested in characters and script than how difficult it is to animate a rope breaking.

WALL-E
Tomatometer Score: 96% Positive
Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe nomination and PGA nomination
Previous Major Wins: Golden Globes and PGA
Annie Nominations: Eight
Annie Wins: None
Notes: Best reviews, most major wins, and a total of six Oscar nominations all indicate that WALL-E will win for Best Animated Feature next Sunday. (And if there's any justice, it will win a couple more awards as well.) The only contra-indicator is the film's performance at the Annies, but I think Oscar voters are more likely to follow critics and previous major awards than the more technically oriented Annies.

Conclusion: WALL-E should win Pixar its fourth Best Animated Feature Film Oscar and its tenth Oscar in total. If WALL-E doesn't win, it will be the biggest upset of the night. And if WALL-E wins more than one Oscar, it won't be seen as a huge shock.

Best Documentary Feature

The Betrayal
Tomatometer Score: 91% Positive
Previous Major Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: Solid reviews and a previous nomination help, but weak box office doesn't. Also, the previous nomination is the least predictive of the awards we track. It's not out of the running, but it is a long shot.

Encounters at the End of the World
Tomatometer Score: 94% Positive
Previous Major Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: One of the biggest box office hits for a documentary this year, and that should help it with Oscar voters. After all, you can't vote for what you haven't seen. This is Walter Herzog's first Oscar nomination, but he has made award-winning documentaries in the past, which should help. Still, this movie is not the favorite to come home with the hardware.

The Garden
Tomatometer Score: N/A
Previous Major Nominations: None
Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: The most shocking nomination on this list. Possibly the most shocking nomination of Awards Season. There are not enough reviews on Rotten Tomatoes for it to have a Tomatometer score, but it earned an Oscar nomination. Hopefully this will help the film on the home market, because I think even most avid fans of documentaries will not have heard of this film before it earned its nomination.

Man on Wire
Tomatometer Score: 100% Positive
Previous Major Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards, DGA, and PGA
Previous Major Wins: PGA
Notes: Best reviews of any film on this list, biggest box office figure, and the most previous nominations / wins. This should be the favorite to win this award, but it is still competitive.

Trouble the Water
Tomatometer Score: 97% Positive
Previous Major Nominations: PGA
Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: Excellent reviews, solid box office run, previous nomination... This film has a lot going for it, but it is still an underdog here. There's nothing here that suggests it can't win, but nothing that suggests it will win.

Conclusion: This is a much tighter category with three of the five films having a decent shot at winning. That said, Man on Wire has the best chance at coming home with an award, while Trouble the Water and Encounters at the End of the World having roughly equal chances at playing the upset.

Prize Highlights With each category highlight, we will also take a look at the prizes we will be giving away for the Oscar Prediction contest...

Today we look at Vicky Cristina Barcelona on DVD. The latest from Woody Allen earned excellent reviews, and more than a few nominations, which makes it a perfect prize for the Oscar Prediction Contest. Also included in this prize is a Spanish-English pocket dictionary, for those who don't want to rely on subtitles.

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Filed under: WALL-E, Kung Fu Panda, Bolt, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Man on Wire, Encounters at the End of the World, Trouble the Water, The Betrayal