Everyone is still salting their wounds over last year's tumultuous and difficult year for animated films. Between "Gnomeo and Juliet", "Mars Needs Moms", and "Cars 2", the animated group that's always been scrambling for Academy success took a beating in 2011. This year has a steady course of correction to that problem, with "Arrietty", "The Lorax", "The Pirates: Band of Misfits", "Brave", "ParaNorman", "Wreck-It Ralph", and "Rise of the Guardians" all vying for something more than simple entertainment. It's a lot more interesting to talk about the possibilities those film hold than to talk about the competition this year.
It's not going to go any other way than in favor of "Rango", as it well should. The film has the benefits of being cinematically unorthodox, massively entertaining, and the first animated film made by Industrial Light and Magic. It's a solid bet for either substance or craft, and there's no other film I feel deserves to win. I haven't had the pleasure or the enthusiasm to see three of the films on the list, so the only other one I can vouch for is "Kung Fu Panda 2". It's far from the most original film in the world, and indeed works off of the same template from the previous film. Doesn't change the fact that it's an effective formula that offers up plenty memorable action set-pieces.
WILL & SHOULD WIN: "Rango"
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: "The Adventures of Tintin"
2. "Kung Fu Panda 2"
3. "Chico and Rita"
4. "Puss in Boots"
5. "A Cat in Paris"