Animal menagerie on Oscar's 12-pic ani list

Chipmunks, bees and rats to spare

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Thursday released a list of the 12 films that are eligible to compete for the best animated feature Oscar.

The list includes Robert Zemeckis' performance-capture epic "Beowulf," quelling, at least for the moment, questions about whether the film will be in the running for an ani Oscar.

The Academy also reserved the right to revise the list for movies that have yet to have their qualifying run, which in addition to "Beowulf" includes "Persepolis" and "Alvin and the Chipmunks."

Still, the Academy has revoked eligibility if a movie is later deemed not to meet all criteria, a fate that befell Luc Besson's "Arthur and the Invisibles" last year. And it's not clear if the eligibility committee has seen all the films yet; the deadline for studios to submit prints isn't until later in the month.

The other nine titles to make the list are "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters," "Bee Movie," "Meet the Robinsons," "Ratatouille," "Shrek the Third," "The Simpsons Movie," "Surf's Up," "Tekkonkinkreet" and "TMNT."

The total of 12 eligible movies means that only three pictures will be nominated; had 16 films been eligible, the Academy would have had the option to up the number of nom slots to five.

In what is regarded as a fiercely competitive year for animation, some contenders had been hoping for the extra two slots. In the seven-year history of the category, the Academy has nominated five films only one time.

The least-known film on the list is "Tekkonkinkreet," a Japanese fable from U.S.-born director Michael Arias. Two animated films released in the U.S. this year, "Happily N'Ever After" and "The Ten Commandments," were not on the eligibility list.