Now that the Golden Globe nominees have been announced, movie fans are focusing on the big categories: best actor, best actress, best dramatic motion picture. But one of this year's more intriguing categories is best animated feature.
Animated movies have come to the fore over the past decade, popping up on year-end top-10 lists compiled by critics and, more important, box offices. One nominee, "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," is a charming update on a classic children's book - and it doesn't stand a snowball's chance. Why? In a category of cartoons, it's actually too lightweight.
Consider the competition. "The Princess and the Frog" introduces Disney's first African-American princess. "Up," from Pixar, features another unusual hero: an elderly widower, with the voice of Ed Asner. Then there's "Coraline," a psychologically unsettling tale (from Tim Burton compatriot Henry Selick) that boasts elaborate stop-motion animation.
The one to beat may be "Fantastic Mr. Fox," Wes Anderson's first animated film and also a work of stop-motion. The craft is admirable, but its selling points are a multilayered script (based on Roald Dahl's book), the voices of A-list stars (George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray) and Anderson's quirky style.