“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” (Sony Animation)
DIRECTORS: Cody Cameron, Kris Pearn
IN ITS FAVOR: An explosion of color and creativity, this trippy CG sequel trades falling meatballs for an entire ecosystem of endangered “foodimals,” from tacodiles to watermelophants.
“The Croods” (Fox/D’Works Animation)
DIRECTORS: Kirk DeMicco, Chris Sanders
IN ITS FAVOR: There’s nothing primitive about the production design in this gorgeously rendered prehistoric comedy, in which CG cavemen step outside their comfort zone into an eye-popping 3D world.
“Despicable Me 2” (U/Illumination)
DIRECTORS: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
IN ITS FAVOR: Gru gets a love interest and the Minions get more screen time in a 3D CG sequel that outgrossed all other toons this year, while remaining true to the medium’s zany roots.
“Epic” (Fox/Blue Sky)
DIRECTOR: Chris Wedge
IN ITS FAVOR: Encourages curiosity and features one of the most dazzling environments of any CG toon, simply by looking closer at the world a shrunken human girl discovers in her own backyard.
“Ernest & Celestine” (GKids)
DIRECTORS: Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner
IN ITS FAVOR: In a world of CG toons, this delicate hand-drawn offering — in which a bear and mouse make unlikely pals — brings the style of Gabrielle Vincent’s illustrations to life.
“The Fake” (Finecut)
DIRECTOR: Yeon Sang-ho
IN ITS FAVOR: Unapologetically adult-themed Korean director Yeon Sang-ho follows “The Bay of Pigs” with this dark tale of a man who takes on an evangelical cult.
Free Birds (Reel FX)
DIRECTOR: Jimmy Hayward
IN ITS FAVOR: A group of turkeys plot to liberate their species from the terrors of Thanksgiving in a CG comedy stuffed with celebrity voices.
DIRECTOR: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
IN ITS FAVOR: A clever CG spin on fairy-tale tradition — and the rare Disney princess movie that passes the Bechdel Test, featuring scenes in which two female characters discuss something other than a man.
Khumba (Triggerfish Studios)
DIRECTOR: Anthony Silverston
IN ITS FAVOR: A zebra missing half his stripes sets out to prove his worth in this CG adventure from the South African studio behind “Zambezia.”
The Legend of Sarila (Carpe Diem Film & TV/10th Ave. Prods.)
DIRECTOR: Nancy Florence Savard
IN ITS FAVOR: This computer-animated Canadian entry broadens cultural horizons as an Inuit clan (and a handful of cuddly critters) make a difficult trek north.
“A Letter to Momo” (GKids/Prodn. IG)
DIRECTOR: Hiroyuki Okiura
IN ITS FAVOR: Like a long-lost Miyazaki movie, this painstakingly made anime finds the silver lining in a young girl’s grief, as magical spirits help her cope with her father’s death.
“Monsters University” (Disney/Pixar)
DIRECTOR: Dan Scanlon
IN ITS FAVOR: Though not as artistically ambitious as some of the other projects in Pixar’s pipeline, this prequel over-delivers on humor and heart, while scaring up a whopping $743 million worldwide.
O Apostolo (Artefacto Prods.)
DIRECTOR: Fernando Cortizo
IN ITS FAVOR: A dose of dark Spanish humor in an otherwise kid-targeted category, this 3D stop-motion entry deals in superstition and black magic.
Planes (DisneyToon Studios)
DIRECTOR: Klay Hall
IN ITS FAVOR: Though conceived as a straight-to-video “Cars” spinoff, the Mouse House’s zippy 3D theatrical release earned $89 million in theaters.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part III: The Rebellion Story
DIRECTORS: Yukihiro Miyamoto, Akiyuki Shinbo
IN ITS FAVOR: The first two installments recycled animation from the Japanese anime series, but “Part III” boasts all-new footage of the magic gals.
Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury (Buriti Filmes/Gullane)
<p>DIRECTOR: Luiz Bolognesi</p>
<p>IN ITS FAVOR: Winner of the top prize at the Annecy animation festival, this lush hand-drawn toon resurrects a cherished technique for a tale of two lovers reincarnated across four periods in Brazilian history.</p>
“Smurfs 2” (Sony)
DIRECTOR: Raja Gosnell
IN ITS FAVOR: Now that Sony’s computer-animated blue fellas have found a portal to cross over into the world of live action, why not take their trouble-making ways to Paris?
Image courtesy of Sony Animation
“Turbo” (Fox/D’Works Animation)
DIRECTOR: David Soren
IN ITS FAVOR: The impossible-dreamer tale (a la “Ratatouille”) of a snail that dares to compete in the Indy 500 disappointed at the B.O., but is beloved by those who saw it.