Though most eyes will be on The Artist, Midnight in Paris, Hugo and The Help at the 84th Academy Awards on Sunday (February 26, 2012), there is an equally interesting battle brewing in one of the less recognized categories. Animated Spanish movie 'Chico & Rita', a huge hit with critics following its release in 2011, is looking to oust the big favorite RANGO, which features the voice of Johnny Depp.
This will be the tenth year that the Academy has handed out an Oscar for best animated movie, and this year marks the first time that two foreign language films have made it into the category - Chico & Rita and 'A Cat in Paris'. Javier Mariscal, director of the former, told Reuters, "We are very surprised because normally animation is an American market.It's very strange that Hollywood saw our film and liked it enough to nominate it". The movie follows a musical couple who journey through the jazz clubs of Havana, New York and Las Vegas and it gained rave reviews following its release. Andrew O'Hehir of said, "A dazzling and delightful work of modernist animation, a classic movie romance and a hip-swinging, finger-popping tale of musical revolution", while A.O Scott of the New York Times described the movie as "Sexy, sweet and laced with a sadness at once specific to its place and time and accessible to anyone with a breakable heart".
Nevertheless, 'Rango' - about a sheltered chameleon living life as an ordinary domestic family pet - is still heavily favored with the bookmakers for the statuette on Sunday.