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Pros: Henry Selick’s polished, detailed and stylized stop-motion animation is perfectly matched with Neil Gaiman’s novella about a girl lured to another world by dark reflections of her parents.
Cons: “Coraline” has so far proved more adept at earning nominations than winning awards, meaning the support might not be there to put it over the top.
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
Pros: Wes Anderson’s crossover into animation brings the kind of star power to this category that the wider Academy could respond to. Critical love also should earn it votes from the high-minded among the Academy.
Cons: “Fox” was not as widely seen, which is a real handicap when the entire membership is voting. The film’s hip tone also was hit or miss with a lot of people, and it won’t take too many misses to fall short.
“The Princess and the Frog”
Pros: Oscar loves tradition and revivals, making a vote for this film the awards equivalent of comfort food.
Cons: “Princess” has struggled to make its mark as anything other than a return to tradition.
“The Secret of Kells”
Pros: A true unknown underdog, “Kells” has a good track record of winning awards at such prestigious festivals as Annecy and Edinburgh.
Cons: It has to be seen to earn votes, and with its U.S. release coming long after the votes will have been counted it faces a serious uphill battle in that department.
Pros: “Up” has everything going for it. The movie grossed more than $700 million worldwide, earned some of the best reviews of the year and has a shelf full of trophies from the Critics Choice Awards to the Golden Globes. And given Pixar’s dominance in this category, no one will gasp in surprise if it wins this race, too.
Cons: Front-runners are always targets, susceptible to voter complacency, backlash effects and the underdog factor.
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