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"The Pirates! Band of Misfits"
Director: Peter Lord
Distributor: Sony Pictures
The Lowdown: Aardman Animations hasn't seen much luck with the Oscars outside of Wallace & Gromit. "Flushed Away" and last year's "Arthur Christmas" failed to register, but had the animated feature category been inaugurated one year sooner, 2000's "Chicken Run" surely would have gotten in. That film, like this year's hopeful "The Pirates! Band of Misfits," was directed by Aardman co-founder Peter Lord. There's respect for the work being done out there in Bristol, but the studio's latest, though more successful at the box office than recent efforts, didn't find much love from the critics and really does pale next to the rest of the legacy. It's unique in the fray for its trademark claymation and measured pace, but there are simply more attractive and resonant choices for the branch to choose from this year.