Cars, Happy Feet, Monster House Nab Feature Oscar Nominations

As many of the media watchers had predicted, the three nomination spots in the Best Animation Oscar race were filled by Disney/Pixar’s Cars, Warner Bros. Happy Feet and Sony Pictures Animation’s Monster House. The nomination announcements were made this morning at 5:30 a.m. by actress Salma Hayek and Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences president Sid Ganis.

Although John Lasseter’s Cars and George Miller’s Happy Feet had emerged as frontrunners in the Best Animated Feature category in the past two months, there was still an element of surprise surrounding first-time director Gil Kenan’s Monster House filling the third spot on the list. Among the toons shut out of the race were DreamWorks/Aardman’s well-reviewed Flushed Away and summer hit Over the Hedge, Fox/Blue Sky’s blockbuster sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown and Sony Pictures Animation’s Open Season. 2006 will also go down as the year where all the Best Animated Oscar nominees were computer-generated and no traditional features made the cut.

Competing in the Best Animated Shorts category this year will be Gary Rydstrom’s Lifted (Pixar), Roger Allers’ The Little MatchGirl (Disney) Torill Kove’s The Danish Poet (National Film Board of Canada) Geza M. Toth’s Maestro and Chris Renaud and Mike Thermeier’s No Time for Nuts (Blue Sky). Despite popular support and winning numerous festival honors, Joanna Quinn’s Dreams and Desires’Family Ties and Alex Weil’s One Rat Short didn’t receive nods from the voters. Other no-shows were Don Hertzfeldt’s Everything Will Be OK, Bill Plympton’s Guide Dog and Regina Pessoa’s Tragic Story with Happy Ending.

The three features which landed a Visual Effects Oscar race were Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Warner Bros.’ Poseidon and Warner Bros. Superman Returns. Surprising omissions were X-Men:The Last Stand and Picturehouse’s Pan’s Labyrinth.

The 79th edition of the Academy Awards will be broadcast Sunday, February 25th, at 5 p.m. on ABC. For a complete list of nominees, visit www.oscars.com.