The Academy's decision to up the number of Best Picture nominees from five to ten has already been well documented and discussed, but according to Variety, it looks as if the Best Animated Feature category will be movin' on up as well. As per the rules, if there are 8 to 15 eligible animated features released in a year, the category will appear in the ceremony, with three nominees. However, if 16 or more happen to screen, the nominees move from 3 to 5... and 2009 looks to be that year. With the Spanish-produced, English-language Missing Lynx [El lince perdido] making an Oscar qualifying run despite having no US distributor at the time being and GKIDS picking up the French/British/Belgian co-production The Secret of Kells after Empire Pictures fell through for a qualifying run in December, it looks as if that landmark might be crossed this year. I couldn't find a list of all the eligible titles anywhere online, but by my count, we have: Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox, Pete Docter's Up, Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo, Henry Selick's Coraline, Shane Acker's 9, Robert Zemeckis' A Christmas Carol (maybe), Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Monsters Vs. Aliens, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Adam Elliot's Mary and Max, Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar's A Town Called Panic [Panique au village], The Princess and the Frog, Battle for Terra, Astro Boy, Planet 51, some Disney Tinker Bell movie which played for a week before its DVD release and a Japanese anime Evangerion. I've read that Evangerion, Mary and Max (which IFC will be releasing officially next year) and A Town Called Panic (which Zeitgeist has) have made their qualifying runs already and that another GKIDS release, Mia and the Migoo [Mia et le Migou], may do the same. It looks to have been quite a year for animated films... even if I haven't seen a single one of 'em.
UPDATE: It looks like 20 animated films are in line for the Animated category, according to Screen Daily. Mia and the Migoo will not make a qualifying run after all, and Evangerion was not listed among the 20. Of that 20, the ones I didn't mention above are: Alvin and the Chipmuks: The Squeakquel (ugh) and The Dolphin: Story of a Dreamer. According to the source though:
"Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, The Dolphin – Story of a Dreamer, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Planet 51, The Princess and the Frog, The Secret of Kells, and A Town Called Panic have not had their required Los Angeles qualifying run."
Five nominees it is for next year's Oscars.