Town Called PanicI'm so pleased to learn from IndieWIRE that five animated features will probably be in the running for a 2009 Academy Award. If fewer than 16 films are eligible, then only three films end up on the list of nominees. But the shortlist released today by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences includes 20 films eligible for Oscar nominations, assuming that all films on the list have a qualifying run in Los Angeles before the end of the year. That means five films will be nominated for Best Animated Feature.

Of course the list includes lots of big animated films: Pixar's Up, Disney's The Princess and the Frog, Henry Selick's Coraline, Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox and Dreamworks's Monsters vs. Aliens, among others. But I may or may not have squealed and bounced in my seat to read one unexpected candidate: A Town Called Panic, the Belgian animated film that won the Audience Award at Fantastic Fest this year, and which I reviewed. I hope the film will hit L.A. for the required time, and although it is the world's biggest longshot, I'd love to see it get a nomination. The Best Animated Feature category needs something this bizarre, original and creative. We'll find out for sure when Oscar nominations are announced on Feb. 2, 2010.