14 draw a bead on Oscar


Fourteen films have been submitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in hopes of securing one of the three nominations available in the best animated feature category.

The contenders are "Bolt," "Delgo," "Dragon Hunters," "Fly Me to the Moon," "Igor," "Kung Fu Panda," "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa," "$9.99," "The Sky Crawlers," "Sword of the Stranger," "The Tale of Despereaux," "Waltz With Bashir," "WALL-E" and "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!"

Because there are at least eight but fewer than 16 submissions, a maximum of three movies can share the spotlight when the Oscar nominations are announced Jan. 22.

Disney/Pixar's "Wall-E" is widely considered the frontrunner to win the Oscar. Competition for the other two slots will include such boxoffice hits as Blue Sky Studio's "Horton," a Fox release, and DreamWorks Animation's "Panda" and "Madagascar" sequel, which were released by Paramount.

The submissions also include Israel's award-winning documentary "Bashir," which has emerged as this year's "Persepolis." A Sony Pictures Classics release, "Bashir" also could be a contender in the foreign-language film race.

"Bashir," Disney's 3-D "Bolt," CG fantasy films "Delgo" and "Dragon Hunters," Australian stop-motion title "$9.99," Japanese anime titles "The Sky Crawlers" and "Sword of the Stranger" and London-based Framestore Feature Animation's first title "The Tale of Despereaux" from Universal still await their qualifying runs.

"Bolt" and "Fly Me to the Moon" are stereoscopic 3-D titles.

By next year, the majority of the leading competitors could be 3-D titles, as stereoscopic animated fare scheduled to open in 2009 includes Focus' "Coraline," DWA's "Monsters vs. Aliens" and Disney's "Up." (partialdiff)