Golden Globes Preview: 'Tintin,' 'Cars 2' Faceoff in Animation Category

TinTIn Cars 2 VS Split - H 2011

TinTIn Cars 2 VS Split - H 2011

Steven Spielberg's motion-capture smash poses a real challenge to the five-year reign of Pixar movies.

This story appeared in the Dec. 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Pixar's animated movies have had a prize-winning run at the Golden Globe awards, but this year that run could very well come crashing to an end -- and all because of an intrepid young reporter called Tintin.

When it comes to recognizing animated films in their own category, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association was actually late to the game. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences first gave out an Oscar for best animated feature in 2002. (Its first winner was DreamWorks Animation's Shrek.) It was five years before the HFPA, which had previously lumped animated movies into its comedy/musical category, decided to follow suit and designated a special Globe for animation.

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For the past five years, ever since the HFPA created that new trophy, Pixar has ruled the competition. Cars, John Lasseter's celebration of America's automobile culture, took home the inaugural Globe for animation, defeating such contenders as Happy Feet, with its tap-dancing penguins, Monster House and Bee Movie. (That same year, at the Oscars, Happy Feet pulled off a surprise win by upstaging Cars.)

And every year since then, another Pixar movie has upheld the tradition: Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up and Toy Story 3 all were winners.

This year, Lasseter is back with the sequel Cars 2, in which Owen Wilson's Lightning McQueen and Larry the Cable Guy's Mater take a round-the-world drive in a plot tailor-made to appeal to the HFPA's international constituency. The song-and-dance birds of Antarctica will be back as well in their own sequel, director George Miller's Happy Feet Two.

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Don't expect a replay of the 2006 race, though. There are plenty of other fierce contenders who are hoping for a nomination: DWA's Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots, Fox's Rio, Paramount's Rango, Disney's Winnie the Pooh and Sony's Arthur Christmas among them.

There also are a couple of new kids in toon town: Steven Spielberg, directing his first animated feature, The Adventures of Tintin, making use of the latest advances in motion capture and 3D cinematography with The Lord of the Rings maestro Peter Jackson at his side as producer.

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The HFPA, which has a demonstrated weakness for big marquee names, is going to find it hard to resist a filmmaker with that kind of pedigree. Plus, Tintin is based on the famous Herge comics character -- famous at least in Europe, from whence many HFPA members hail. Although Paramount won't open the movie in the United States until Dec. 21, almost a week after the Globe nominations are announced, it's already a growing hit around the world, where it grossed more than $160 million in its first two weeks of release via Sony and Paramount.

So while Pixar may have the winning track record at the Globes, this year it's the challenger Tintin that is revving up to win the prize.