The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Aardman Animation has a healthy track record with the Oscars. They have four Oscars and six nominations to their credit. While one of those failed wins was to another short from their company, the latter was the first time Wallace and Gromit had lost at the Oscars, a scant two Oscar years ago. Then, after Arthur Christmas failed to perform well at the box office and was subsequently ignored by the Academy, it might be said that their fortunes have fallen. Aardman is a lot like Pixar in the fact that they are very much concerned with the quality of their productions and churn out a healthy number of hits. Yet, jealousy is a fickle creature within the Animation field and when a film like Kung Fu Panda can trounce a brilliant film like WALL-E at the Annie Awards, a bias is evident. This could explain Arthur's absence last year, but I'm not sure it does. Regardless of the fate of last year's Aardman offering, The Pirates is releasing early enough in the year and is opening weak enough with the box office that its chances at an Oscar nomination are dwindling. However, this year's slate of animated productions seems anemic at best, which could lead the film to eke out a small victory in the guise of a nomination. A win is unfathomable at this point.
Before it opened, I would have said Art Direction and Costume Design nominations were potential Oscar results. Yet, the film hasn't done well with critics, nor has it done well with audiences, meaning it will likely suffer the same fate as another Gothic horror film that released earlier this year, The Woman in Black. Both films cover a similar period of history and have a comparable look and with neither exactly igniting audience imaginations, it's hard to believe that the Academy will reward either. Yes, the Academy's art directors and costume designers have recognized poor box office performers in the past, but many of those films had critics behind them and also weren't bloody or scary. Let's remember that the Academy isn't fond of the horror genre. And when you look at the plethora of potential contenders this year, The Raven begins to disappear from memory faster than ever.