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Derby update: Oscars' animation race shinks? | 65 foreign flicks hit the track | Carey Mulligan nabs early lead for best actress

October 15, 2009 | 12:16 pm

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: Uh-oh. Looks like this Oscar race will only have three nominees, as usual. Today we hear from a spokesperson for Funimation that "Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone" — which is based upon the hit Japanese anime TV series “Neon Genesis Evangelion” — is not a contender. It is ineligible because it opened in Japan in September 2007. A spokesman for co-distributor Eleven Arts confirms this decision. Earlier, we thought it would be a contender this year because it opened in Encino for what appeared to be a qualifying run.

Oscars animation race

This brings the list of entries that we know about to 15. According to academy rules, if there are eight to 15 entries, there can only be three nominees in the race, which has been the case seven of the past eight years of the category's existence. Only in 2002 were they're five nominees. So far this year there are these animated films competing: "Astro Boy" (Summit Entertainment), "Battle for Terra" (Roadside Attractions), "A Christmas Carol" (Walt Disney Pictures), "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" (Sony Pictures Entertainment), "Coraline" (Focus Features), "Fantastic Mr. Fox" (20th Century Fox), "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" (20th Century Fox), "Mary and Max" (IFC Films), "Monsters vs. Aliens" (Paramount Pictures), "9" (Focus Features), "Planet 51" (Sony Pictures Entertainment), "Ponyo" (Walt Disney Pictures), "The Princess and the Frog" (Walt Disney Pictures), "Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure" (Walt Disney Pictures), "Up" (Walt Disney Pictures).

There were doubts about "Battle for Terra" and "Planet 51," but Gold Derby has confirmed that they're being submitted for competition. Contrary to some blog reports, "A Town Called Panic" will not make the race because Zeitgeist Films doesn't plan to open it in L.A. until late next January. Deadline for entries is Nov. 2.

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM: Sixty-five nations have entered this race. Here is the full list. Germany's entry, "The White Ribbon," which won the Golden Palm at Cannes, and Peru's "The Milk of Sorrow," which won the top prize at the Berlin fest, are widely considered to be the front-runners. Other strong entries include Canada's "I Killed My Mother" and France's "A Prophet." European films usually dominate the five nominees. Italy leads with the most wins historically (10). This year Italy's entry is "Baaria." Read the reax of our forum posters here.

BEST DIRECTOR: Some Oscar bloggers had Spike Jonze on their lists of potential nominees for best director, but they can scratch that. While "Where the Wild Things Are" has received raves reviews from some media sources like Entertainment Weekly, it's only scored 68 at Metacritic. Variety's Todd McCarthy says, "Director Spike Jonze's sharp instincts and vibrant visual style can't quite compensate for the lack of narrative eventfulness that increasingly bogs down this bright-minded picture."

BEST ACTRESS: "Bright Star" started out with luminous reviews from critics, nabbing 81 score at Metacritic, but it failed to get a gushing response at its recent academy screening. Of Sony Pictures Classics three entries in the best-actress race over the past few weeks, clearly the one with the best shot turns out to be Carey Mulligan in the thrillingly received "An Education." She led our Gold Derby poll with 75% when pitted against "Bright Star's" Abbie Cornish (13%) and "Coco Before Chanel's" Audrey Tatou (12%).

Photo: Funimation/ Eleven Arts

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