The New York Film Critics Circle, which I can only presume is a circle of film critics from New York, has announced their picks for the best films of the year. This year, they chose not to hand out an award for best animated feature. It’s the first time they’ve withheld the honor since initiating the category in 2000, which is a bold (and arguably unwarranted) rebuke of this year’s crop of animated features. Then again, the group isn’t afraid to take risks and consistently acknowledges worthy animated films. The winners of their best animated feature category over the last four years have been Persepolis, WALL-E, Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Illusionist. Compare that to the Academy, whose membership has handed the Oscar to Pixar for the past four years in a row.
Meanwhile, the mysterious National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, which is comprised of “a select group of knowledgeable film enthusiasts, filmmakers, academics, and student,” also announced the winners of their film awards, and they chose ILM’s Rango as their best animated feature. It’s notable in that they’d given the animated feature award to Pixar for the last five years in a row. When the National Board of Review can’t bring themselves to pat Pixar on the back, you know the Oscar race is wide open.