It’s been another strong year for toon features, both creatively and at the box office.
The Globes can nominate five and here are the HFPA’s short list of 12 contenders.
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Classic precursor: “Tron” meets Pac-Man.
Shot at a Globe nom: Disney’s wacky and anarchic comedy has all the right ingredients; a lovable videogame anti-hero, a beautifully designed alternative universe, a retro-fresh look that showcases its state-of-the-art 3D animation and a stellar cast — all expertly mixed into a digitized homage to ’80s video arcade games by “The Simpsons” and “Futurama” director Rich Moore, making his feature film directorial debut.
Classic precursor: “The Princess and the Frog” meets “The Hunger Games.”
Shot at a Globe nom: After the disappointment of “Cars 2,” Pixar was right on target with its tale of the strong-willed and ace archer Scottish princess Merida, who rebels against her parents and her kingdom’s ancient customs when it comes to arranged marriage. Critically well-received, it also earned over $530 million worldwide, making it the seventh highest-grossing Pixar film.
“Ice Age: Continental Drift”
Classic precursor: The three other “Ice Ages”
Shot at a Globe nom: Red hot when it came to grosses, the 3D family blockbuster hauled in $870 million worldwide, turning it into the third highest-grossing film of the year and sixth highest-grossing animated film in history, despite also being the first in the franchise not directed by “Rio’s” Carlos Saldanha.
“Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted”
Classic precursor: The other two adventures
Shot at a Globe nom: The first in the franchise to go 3D, “M3” was also the best-reviewed in the series — and the highest-grossing, with over $725 million worldwide. The film’s crack comic timing and inspired visuals should help bring out the HFPA animal-lovers.
“Rise of the Guardians”
Classic precursor: William Joyce’s classic book series
Shot at a Globe nom: DreamWorks’ Santa with attitude — and tattoos and swords (and voiced by Globe fave Alec Baldwin — 10 noms, 3 wins) — shares the screen with the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the Nightmare King Pitch (Jude Law) in an edgy kiddy epic that also showcases the talents of first-time African-American director Peter Ramsey.
“The Secret World of Arrietty”
Classic precursor: Brit author Mary Norton’s “The Borrowers”
Shot at a Globe nom: Lyrical and dreamy fantasy about tiny people living under a house combines the great tradition of British children’s storytelling with gorgeous animation courtesy of Japan’s famed Studio Ghibli. The anime film grossed nearly $150 million worldwide and its message of tolerance may strike a chord with voters.
Classic precursor: Dr. Seuss’ 1971 book
Shot at a Globe nom: While the CG 3D film grossed nearly $350 million worldwide, critical response was mixed, with many arguing that it sacrificed the original book’s message on the altar of cute and zany. But an A-list cast could beef up its chances.
Classic precursor: “Coraline” meets “The Sixth Sense.”
Shot at a Globe nom: Made with the same loving attention to detail that the Laika studio artists lavished on “Coraline,” this 3D stop-motion tale about a kid who can see the dead is beautifully animated and visually sumptuous — and features an openly gay character.
Classic precursor: Tim Burton’s 1984 short
Shot at a Globe nom: Boasting a number of firsts — the first B&W movie and first stop-motion movie to be released in Imax 3D, Burton’s homage to “Frankenstein” and all horror films is typically Burtonian — part-charming, part-macabre, part-obsessive, and all strange. For Burton fans, it’s a must.
“Pirates! Band of Misfits”
Classic precursor: First book of Gideon Defoe’s “Pirates!” series
Shot at a Globe nom: A clever hybrid of Aardman Animation’s brilliant claymation enhanced with CG vfx in the service of a briny yarn starring Hugh Grant as the Pirate Captain and Imelda Staunton as Queen Victoria. The result? Modest box office ($120 million) but very positive critical response for a smart script and magical visuals.
Classic precursor: “Dracula”
Shot at a Globe nom: The 3D CG comedy’s clever premise — Dracula (Adam Sandler) runs a hotel for famous monsters who need a break from pesky humankind — scared up a quarter billion at the box office, but didn’t overly impress critics. Still, Globe-nommed Sandler’s clout may help snag it a Globes reservation.
“From Up on Poppy Hill”
Classic precursor: The Japanese comic series of the same name
Shot at a Globe nom: Like “Arrietty,” another beautifully animated project from Studio Ghibli, this time set in Japan in the 1960s. But its similar pedigree and predictable plot — school kids team up to save their clubhouse from being demolished — may work against it.
Journos summon the stars to their circle | Best Motion Picture, Drama | Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy | New Television Shows | Animation