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"Rise of the Guardians"
Director: Peter Ramsey
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
The Lowdown: "Rise of the Guardians" from DreamWorks Animation is beautifully animated and hits some cultural highlights that could make it a favorite in the race. It's also adapted from a book by animation and illustration legend William Joyce, who won the animated short Oscar just last year. DreamWorks isn't going to score with "Madagascar 3," obviously, and there's a considerable voting block to take into account, so yes, the film is a likely nominee. That having been said, I can't help but note how lacking and "young" the film plays against commercial competition that offers a bit more density. "Monsters vs. Aliens" failed to register a few years back and Pixar was shut out last year so always remember the branch has no problem going its own way.