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GKids makes splash with two in toon pool

18 toons were submitted for consideration

Oscar’s animated feature category saw 18 toons submitted for consideration, yielding a full roster of five nominees for just the third time since the category was created a decade ago.

DreamWorks Animation nabbed two noms on Tuesday, for “Kung Fu Panda 2” and “Puss in Boots,” while Paramount landed a slot for its first animated feature, “Rango.”

But the big surprise came from New York-based distrib GKids, which landed nods for two pics: “A Cat in Paris” and the jazzy “Chico & Rita.”

The nods for “Cat,” from Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli, and “Chico,” by Fernando Trueba (“Belle Epoque”), comes as GKids is expanding the number of pics it releases, having recently inked a deal to handle North American distribution of Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli’s library, which includes “Spirited Away” and “Princess Mononoke.”

It previously released Tomm Moore’s Oscar-nominated “The Secret of Kells,” Michel Ocelot’s “Azur & Asmar” (with the Weinstein Co.) and “Mia and the Migoo.” GKids also produces the New York Intl Children’s Film Festival, an Oscar-qualifying event.

GKids released “Cat” for Folimage and released “Chico” through its adult-skewing LumaFilms banner, due to nudity and other mature content.

The two foreign titles are also up for the Annie Awards, being handed out Feb. 4, as are “Cars 2,” “The Adventures of Tintin,” “Arthur Christmas,” “Rio,” “Panda 2,” “Puss,” “Rango” and “Arrugas.”

“We are thrilled that 100% of the movies we made last year have been nominated for best animated picture Oscars,” said Bill Damaschke, chief creative officer of DreamWorks Animation. “All of us at DreamWorks Animation are extremely proud of everyone involved with making these films and congratulate them on their achievements.”

This year, without a nom for “Cars 2,” Pixar was shut out for the first time since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences introduced the animation category in 2001. Pixar’s absence is notable considering the toon studio has won the Oscar for the past four years with “Ratatouille,” “Wall-E,” “Up” and “Toy Story 3.”

This will be the third time Pixar hasn’t had a pic nommed. In 2002 and 2005, Pixar didn’t release a feature. However, Disney still had one or two films in the race those years..

Among the other no-shows were Disney’s “Winnie the Pooh,” Miramax’s “Gnomeo & Juliet,” Paramount’s “The Adventures of Tintin,” Sony and Aardman Animations’ “Arthur Christmas” and “Rio,” from Fox and Blue Sky Studios.

The omission of “Tintin” came on the heels of the motion-capture adventure pic winning the animated trophy Saturday from the Producers Guild of America for Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy and Peter Jackson. “Tintin” also won the Golden Globes animated prize on Sunday.

None of the 2011 nominated animated titles are up for best picture.

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