Vote of the week: The best of the animated Best Picture nominees

January 27, 2011, 10:33 PM · This week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the 83rd annual Academy Awards. For just the third time, an animated feature film was nominated for the Best Picture award, Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 3.

Scene from Toy Story 3

Since the animated film industry is so closely tied to the theme park business, I thought the nominations a good choice for this week's vote. No, I'm not asking you to pick the winner for this year's Best Picture. (I suspect that the Disney fans among us would skew that vote heavily toward Woody and the gang). But I am going to ask you to pick your favorite among the three animated Best Picture nominees.

In addition to Toy Story 3 (the highest-rated of these three by Rotten Tomatoes' Top Critics survey, earning a perfect score), the two previous Best Picture nominees are:

Up (2009) - Cynics might claim that Up made the cut only because the Academy expanded the Best Picture field to 10 last year. But I defy anyone to watch for the first time the nearly five-minute, wordless recounting of Carl and Ellie's life together without breaking into tears. I still can't do it, and I've lost count how many times I've seen this film.

Beauty and the Beast (1991) - It's hard now to watch the first animated film to win a Best Picture nod and not think of Shrek's hilarious spoof of its ending. (For what it's worth, I've heard from many folks - including some Hollywood insiders - who insist that the Academy created the Best Animated Feature award in 2001 specifically to prevent Shrek from claiming a Best Picture nomination that year.)

But let's not overlook Beauty and the Beast's place in history. Watch "The Mob Song" - a great metaphor for public rejection of the different - and remember that the lyricist (Howard Ashman) was a gay man, dying of AIDS in the late 1980s, who would pass away before the movie premiered.

We don't like
What we do not understand
In fact it scares us
And this monster is mysterious at least
Bring your guns
Bring your knives
Save your children and your wives
We'll save our village and our lives
We'll kill the Beast!

Cast your vote, and please tell us in the comments why you think your choice is the best of the three.

Replies (16)

January 27, 2011 at 10:52 PM · Simply put, there is nothing like Beauty and the Beast out there.

It was always one of my favorite Disney animated feature, but I forgot how it took my breath away until I bought it on Blu Ray this past year. WOW...

January 28, 2011 at 3:00 AM · I gotta tell ya, I was surprised to see BB leading the results after I a wide margin, too..for now. I voted for it. It's by far my favorite "traditionally" animated movie. I really need to watch it again one of these days.

While I liked Toy Story 3 a lot, I thought it was inferior to the previous chapters. Since it's the only Best Picture nominee I've seen this year, though, I do hope it wins.

UP? I just saw it about two weeks ago for the first time. After the first 15 minutes, I thought it was gonna be one of Pixar's great accomplishments. Wrong. It went downhill, and I ended up quite disappointed in it.

January 28, 2011 at 3:25 AM · I do honestly believe that had "UP" been live action and not animation it might have scooped awards for " Best Actor in a leading role" , " Best Lighting" and " Best Director".

As it is I still wonder how the animators managed to convey such emotion and subtle facial expressions. Quite remarkable when you consider it. Now you have to understand that, while I love Pixar and Dreamworks animation, I think I might still prefer the old 2D pen-drawn techniques. So I would've expected myself to vote for " Beauty & the Beast". And Toy Story 3 has so many wonderful elements that it's possibly one of the best animated movies of all time ( so far ).
But "UP" touched my heart and my soul. At times I forgot that the main character was not a real person. How good can that be ?

January 28, 2011 at 5:23 AM · Loved all three, but Up was my favorite. A nearly perfect combination of story, charm, comedy, action, and drama, Up took computer animation and storytelling to a whole new level. Only The Incredibles stands out as a better, more complete Pixar film, IMHO.

For 2010, I adored Toy Story 3 but I also thought Tangled and HT Train Your Dragon were superlative animated films that transcended the genre.

January 28, 2011 at 9:24 AM · I chose Up (and to my surprise it is last place)...... I liked all the movies, but Beauty and the Beast had the least laughs that I can remember and as an adult watching cartoons I appreciate some laughs in the mix.

I chose Up, not because of the sappy love story (which is probably the reason why it was nomintated for an Academy Award), but because of the dog. The dog made the movie, without the dog the movie would have been boring. Toy Story 3 had some funny parts too, but it was probably my least favorite of the three the first time I saw it atleast (it seemed to move slow at times). I usually think that the Academy is disconnected from the a lot of the viewing public's opinions when it comes to what they find entertaining or funny anyway (after all, movies are suppose to be entertainment right?). A great example of the disconnect ammoungst critcs and the audience to me would be the Golden Globes naming The Kids Are Alright comedy of the year..... That movie was hardly a comedy.... really seemed like more of a drama. I don't remember laughing much during it at all. It was more like a high budget (maybe a little more edgy) version of a lifetime television movie. Snoozfest.

January 28, 2011 at 11:17 AM · I am suprised that Beauty and the Beast is in second place!

Its one of the few animated movies that scores big on all fronts: technology, traditional beautiful animation, quite arguably the best story,good morals, effective villian, clever sidekicks, and music that is out of this world!

While TSIII is a great movie, I feel that it pales in comparision to the first two Toy Story s. Personally, TSII was the best of the three and I felt TSIII was just a repeat of the same morals.

I too was a bit disappointed in Up, but I felt that it was a beautiful concept and pieces of the movie (like the Married Life scene shown) are some of the best work that Pixar has put out. They seem to do very well with animation with NO speaking!

I am a bit disappointed that Tangled was not nominated in the Animation category this year. It was a great movie and beautifully done. Still, it probably would get killed by TSIII

January 28, 2011 at 11:34 AM · I voted for Beauty & the Beast...I, too, was disappointed with Up. It had so much potential, but I found myself very bored with the entire movie. The beginning was very touching but a depressing way to start off a movie.

Toy Story 3 was great but it can't touch the first one.

I also think I'm partial to Beauty & the Beast because it came out when I was about 7 so I was at the perfect age for it. Love the music, love the characters, love, love, love it all!

January 28, 2011 at 12:30 PM · All 3 are great movies. That being said, I picked Toy Story 3. It is fresh on my mind and it completed one of the greatest trilogies of all time.
January 28, 2011 at 1:36 PM · I voted for Toy Story 3. Is probably not the best animated film I have ever seen, but is close and really nice. I understand the people that voted for "The Beauty", but I couldn't just for the fact I was a little kid and my recollections aren't accurate. Plus just seeing it now with the technology advancements, I think wouldn't be fair.

Up, in the other hand I "almost" didn't like it. Robert says, "I dare you to see it and don't cry". It is a sad movie for me, just sad, the movie brings all this sadness and emotions but it doesn't really picks them "UP" by the end or towards the end either. I just think it left me with a sad feeling after I saw it. Not a happy or a feeling of enjoyment.

For Toy Story in the other hand I just think that is hard to see this movie as a single movie. Since it brings a feeling of "closure" (unlike "UP"). In that sense since is bringing some closure to the story it bring us back to the other movies, to the reason why we like or love the characters. You get a feeling of love that just isn't about these part, but about the 2 previous ones this one ties them up with a bow at the end.

January 28, 2011 at 5:43 PM · This is a hard choice between "Up" and "Toy Story 3". Both of them are moving, funny and inventive. I would say a tie.

"Beauty and the Beast" had a great beginning with the prologue that tells the story of the beast with vitrals and the great Alan Menken score playing in the background of that scene. The rest of the movie looks too old fashioned.

January 29, 2011 at 9:34 AM · As good as Toy Story 3 is, there's something about traditional animation that is timeless. These characters aren't the creation of computers, but that of human artists who sketch them out of their imagination and draw the frame by hand. Computer animation is cool and all that, but it has no heart, at least when compared with really good traditional hand drawn stuff. Call me old school if you will. I just like to harken back to times when human beings actually made stuff, because it all had a unique human quality, as opposed to cookie cutter computer technology.

The story lines of TS3 and Up are great and entertaining. There's no denying that they are two really good movies. Great actors and voices...great music..etc. Beauty and the Beast has all of those things too. To me the human dimension of its animation makes it better than the Pixar stuff.

January 29, 2011 at 7:03 PM · It looks like I'm in the minority. I didn't like Toy Story 3 or Up that much. I watched Beauty and the Beast all the time growing up so I voted for that.
January 29, 2011 at 10:03 PM · I'm stuck between BB and Up. I love both of them so much for for totally different reasons. Beauty and the Beast is a beautiful love story that stays true to the tradition of a great animated feature while Up is just a good time. It's enjoyable and funny yet heart felt and tender.

I could watch again and again but I would have to say BB is the all time best on this list and possibly my favorite Disney movie.

January 30, 2011 at 5:04 AM · To the anonymous poster above: Six others besides yourself..including me..chose Beauty and the Beast. I wouldn't call that being in the "minority." I may not be a math scholar, but last time I looked, that's more than half...7 of 13. Now if only the film could catch up in the OVERALL voting, not just among the commentors :(
January 31, 2011 at 12:22 AM · All three are excellent. Beauty and the Beast had terrific music. UP was hilarious and explored the most emotions. Toy Story 3 had the most resonant conclusion. I think I'd have to give the nod to UP.

I think WALL.E and Ratatouille, however, were the finest Pixar films released. WALL.E, in particular, truly was screwed out of a Best Picture nod, particularly considering its competition included The Reader and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - good, but not WALL.E good.

Also, I respectfully disagree with Derek. I don't think it's fair to criticize these animated films because they aren't "handmade". People often overestimate the amount of work the computer does. The character renderings, emotions, expressions - these are all done by hand; the computer is simply a tool to chisel the stone with. Look at the difference between films like Finding Nemo and Shark Tale. Plus, Beauty and the Beast was one of the first animated films to use CGI, so it isn't all hand-drawn.

As a final note, I'm happy that the Academy has finally started recognizing these films as art (though not to the degree they should), but one category they continually get neglected from is Best Director. The amount of care put into these films is astounding; if you get a chance, watch the footage from behind the scenes. Here's an excerpt from Patton Oswalt, voice of Remy in Ratatouille, talking about Brad Bird's direction: There’s a scene when I see my dad again and we hug. Brad Bird came in the booth and gave me a hug because when you hug someone, it changes how you talk without you having to think so much about it.

January 31, 2011 at 7:08 PM · OK -- If I absolutely have to choose among those specific three, I would pick 'Up.' Good story, good development, terrific visuals.

HOWEVER -- In my own view, all three of the choices provided take a back seat to 'How to Train Your Dragon' (which, I'm pleased to see, is nominated in two categories for the upcoming awards, one of which is best animated feature film).

I'm still not sure how, but Dreamworks managed to create, with that movie, a near-perfect metaphor for how we, as a species, treat any living creature we don't understand, and they managed to do it in a way which was vastly entertaining and touching all in one swell foop.

HTTYD literally left me breathless at the ending. No other movie since Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" has had that effect. Not 'Up,' not B&B, and certainly not Toy Story 3 (which -- sorry, folks -- I didn't really care for).

Happy travels.

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