turns its Oscar spotlight to animation today, starting with this music-infused lead story from Jon Burlingame:

Animation relies more heavily on music than most live-action films, not just for pacing and tone but for emotional content and sometimes even comedic support. As such, toon composers have enormous opportunity to create the tone and feel of the film in question, which might explain why so many noted musicians have seized the opportunity to score animated pics.

“Even in the best animation, nothing is alive on the screen,” says Mark Mothersbaugh, composer of “Hotel Transylvania.” “Music has to bring the moving atoms to the screen. That’s a big part of the reason orchestras are so predominant in animation: You have 90 or 100 people on a recording stage, they are all breathing, their hearts are beating, and the music sounds like life.”

Such work hasn’t gone unnoticed by Oscar, either. In the past five years, six animated films have been nominated for original score, and one of them (“Up”) won, making music — along with song and screenplay — one of the few Oscar categories in which the Academy seriously considers toons. …

Read the rest of the story here, as well as Burlingame’s spotlight of Pixar’s Alex Mandel, then check out Peter Debruge’s snapshots of the feature animation contenders and Ellen Wolff’s look at the latest in stop-motion