There’s been a lot of talk about this year being a great year for animation. I went through the list of eligible animated features this year and… not so much. Actually, last year was a much better year for animated films. Look towards that crop for a group of entertaining and ambitious films.

So what if I had a ballot? Well, I would have had to see more of these, for one. Voters must see 80% of eligible films and then award scores from 6-10 to those films. The Academy defines 10 as excellent, 8 good, 7 fair, and 6 poor. To me, this means a 6 can run the score between mildly disliked and outright hated. A film must achieve an average score of 7.5 to be nominated.

And unfortunately The Illusionist, one of my most anticipated films, has not come to DC yet. When it does I’ll see it and add it to the list.

Despicable Me: 7

A cute movie, but not particularly noteworthy. It also isn’t all that funny. It just doesn’t have any spark to make it memorable.

How to Train Your Dragon: 8

I wasn’t bowled over by this one as so many seemed to be. But it is charming and has some terrific animation. A couple flying scenes really use the 3D well.

Idiots and Angels: 6

Bill Plympton has two Oscar nominations for shorts and I like that he brings a neat, hand-drawn style to this year’s race. The wordless plot follows a jerk who sprouts angel wings and changes his life. But it’s actually really boring, unfortunately.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole: 6

A standard, poorly-drawn (in plot and character development, not animation) fantasy film. But with owls. It does have some beautiful animation and I bet all the flying looked great in 3D.

Megamind: 6

I had been looking forward to this one for a long time due to its terrific premise: a supervillian whose life loses meaning after defeating his superhero foe. Unfortunately it’s seriously deficient in humor and the plot is not nearly as clever as the premise.

My Dog Tuplip: 8

A very nice film based on JR Ackerly’s memoir of his time with his often misbehaving dog. The story is amusing, touching, and frank while the hand-drawn animation style is neat. Oddly, it’s not a film for children as a surprising amount of it deals with topics like Tulip’s urination habits and procreation.

Shrek Forever After: 6

At least it’s a huge improvement over the putrid Shrek the Third. It also has a lot of good jokes. The plot is awful and barely thought-out, however. There’s nothing to enjoy between hilarious one-liners.

Tangled: 6

Another one that just didn’t move me like it did others. It always seems to be lacking something: a joke that doesn’t quite connect, an emotional connection that doesn’t quite hit home, a plot point that doesn’t quite work.

The animation is also disappointing and sort of drab. I think part of it is that I saw it in 2D. Some scenes that aren’t visually interesting are probably improved by 3D. One romantic scene surrounded by floating lanterns is dull in 2D but I bet looks neat in 3D. Similarly, Rapunzel’s animated hair doesn’t stand out as much.

Toy Story 3: 9

Again, can’t really say it slayed me like it seemed to everyone else, but still very good with a tight story.

I couldn’t see everything (for some it was actually impossible) and these are the other eligible films:

  • Box office bomb Alpha and Omega
  • DVD sequel given a qualifying run to try to push the category over the threshold for five nominees (which it did not) Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue
  • Animated hybrid Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
  • Asian imports Summer Wars (Japan) and The Dream of Jinsha (China)
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