‘Cars 2’ falls flat with critics, leaving Oscars open for furries
This dismal showing with critics, plus new rules for the Academy Award for Best Picture, may have opened up the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature for furry movies, with Rango and Kung Fu Panda 2 both currently top (if early) contenders for the title.
Cars 2 currently has a aggregate score of 33% on Rotten Tomatoes – considerably lower than previous Pixar pictures, most of which are above 90%. Critics lambasted the mediocre storyline, kid-unfriendly violence and dependence on a character (Larry the Cable Guy as Tow Mater) who many found annoying. Most reviews begin with a variation of the line “it had to happen sometime,” and agree that the animation itself is top notch.
Pixar has won Best Animated Feature five times since the award’s inauguration in 2002, and has never failed to gain a nomination. For the last two years, a Pixar feature has also been nominated for Best Picture. However, the shortlist contained ten pictures in those years. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the only animated movie to be nominated to a shortlist of five titles.
Though animated movies are unlikely to win Best Picture for the foreseeable future, nomination virtually assures a victory in the Best Animated Feature category. Up and Toy Story 3’s nominations gave them a distinct edge over distinguished (and furrier) challengers such as Fantastic Mr. Fox and How To Train Your Dragon.
This year it seems to be a moot point, as Cars 2 will probably be lucky to get a nomination for Best Animated Feature, with multiple titles from multiple studios making decent runs for the title.
Rango currently holds the year’s best wide-release animated movie score on Rotten Tomatoes, with Kung Fu Panda 2 right behind. The original Kung Fu Panda was nominated for the award. Rio, another furry contender, is also ”certified fresh,” and has a decent studio pedigree.
Other upcoming movies with furry themes and decent chances of nomination include Winnie the Pooh (with its traditional animation and Disney heritage giving it an edge), A Cat in Paris (the Academy likes to round out the Best Animated Feature shortlist with a smaller-release animated film) and Happy Feet 2 (the original Happy Feet beat out Cars for the award). Less likely furry contenders include Puss in Boots – probably too commercial for the Academy – and the smaller release The Lion of Judah, with a current rating of 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The biggest challenge to a furry victory may come from none other than Steven Spielberg, who is directing his first animated movie this year, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. Just being a Spielberg directed movie could get it on the ballot.
Though 2011 is shaping up to be a good year for furry films at the Academy Awards, it’s possible that none of these films may win the fandom’s Ursa Majors, with the homegrown Bitter Lake throwing a twist into possible nominations. Cars was nominated for an Ursa Major in 2006 as an example of anthropomorphism, despite receiving the poorest ever reviews for a Pixar movie; its sequel is unlikely to manage that in such a furry-rich year.