One of the few surprises of last season's Academy Awards nominations announcement was the fact that the animated feature category made room for not one but two of the fringe indie titles doing battle with big guns like Disney and DreamWorks. Both films -- "A Cat in Paris" and "Chico & Rita" -- were distributed by little engine that could GKIDS.

The studio has just announced the voice cast for the English language version of the film, which will release in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego on June 1. The stars include Marcia Gay Harden, Anjelica Huston and Matthew Modine (who will be seen in "The Dark Knight Rises" late this year).

Further dates for the film will be set for Chicago, Washington DC, Boston, Seattle, Denver, Atlanta, St. Louis and other major and secondary markets throughout the summer.

The press release breaks the plot down thusly: "Dino is a cat that leads a double life. By day he lives with Zoe, a little girl whose mother is a detective in the Parisian police force. But at night he sneaks out the window to work with Nico, a slinky cat burglar with a big heart, whose fluid movements are poetry in motion as he slips and swishes from rooftop to rooftop across the Paris skyline.

"The cat’s two worlds collide when young Zoe decides to follow Dino on his nocturnal adventures – and falls into the hands of Victor Costa, a blustery gangster planning the theft of a rare statue. Now cat and cat burglar must team up to save Zoe from the bumbling thieves, leading to a thrilling acrobatic finale on top of Notre Dame."

I had been meaning to watch the film -- which I didn't much care for at first look -- a second time in the run-up to last year's Oscars, but I never could find the time. I was mostly taken with its visual approach, an ode to noir and Pink Panther-esque shenanigans. But I was very happy that a little company like GKIDS could have such an impact on the race.

GKIDS' previous Oscar nominee, "The Secret of Kells," also wasn't my cup of tea. However, that they could nab three nods in three years shows there's some leeway amongst the heavy hitters, and hope for some dynamic original visions that aren't drowned in corporate interest to pop up in the animated feature category.

This year's race already features such titans as Pixar ("Brave), Disney ("Frankenweenie," "The Secret World of Arriety," "Wreck-It Ralph"), DreamWorks ("Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," "Rise of the Guardians") and Sony ("Hotel Transylvania," "The Pirates! Band of Misfits"). There will be presumably artful players in Laika/Focus's "ParaNorman" and the above-mentioned "Brave," but what fringe hopefuls are waiting to make their mark -- and waiting on a savvy studio like GKIDS to adopt them and make the most of it?

Time will tell.