The mystery is over. Turns out that 20 films have been submitted for consideration in the Oscar race for best animated feature. That means there will probably be five nominees, since 16 eligible entries must be submitted. Fewer eligible entries means that there will be just three nominees in the category, which has been the case seven times over the last eight contests since the category was created.
"Eligible" is a key word. According to the academy Rule Seven, that means an entry must score 7.5 or better when evaluated by members of an academy committee who will rank each one from 6 (lowest) to 10 (highest). There's also the issue of production technique, which must utilize "frame by frame" animation. Using computer-generated imagery is a cloudy matter.
A few of the titles on this list are surprises, including "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," "The Dolphin" and "The Secret of Kells." They hadn't been dished in recent blogosphere discussions. ("Alvin" may face eligibility obstacles due to its use of real people in live-action sequences.) Their additions mean extra padding in this race. A few could fall out and we'll still have five nominees.
The following films have not yet had their qualifying runs in an L.A. theater, but all plan to do so by the end of 2009: "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," "The Dolphin: Story of a Dreamer," "Fantastic Mr. Fox," "Planet 51," "The Princess and the Frog," "The Secret of Kells" and "A Town Called Panic." Here is the academy's full press release.
"Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel"
"Battle for Terra"
"Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs"
"Disney's A Christmas Carol"
"The Dolphin: Story of a Dreamer"
"Fantastic Mr. Fox"
"Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs"
"Mary and Max"
"The Missing Lynx"
"Monsters vs. Aliens"
"The Princess and the Frog"
"The Secret of Kells"
"Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure"
"A Town Called Panic"
Photo: 20th Century Fox