This has been such a good year for animated films (maybe even the beginning of a golden age) that I've never been more excited or curious about the Annie Awards. The International Animated Film Society has just announced the nominees for their honors, and the fact that Pixar's Up is not necessarily a front-runner only goes to show that animation is in a good place.

Up came in second for number of nominations received, one short of Coraline's ten. Both movies are in contention for the top prize, Best Animated Feature, with slight competition coming from Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and the Frog, The Secret of Kells and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.

The last of those titles is the one that had me most impressed with the state of animation this year. Considering I went into it with some of the lowest expectations I've ever had for a film and came out in love with the very loose children's book adaptation, I've been relatively optimistic about animated films since.

Thinking about Cloudy, however, I do wonder if the IAFS will ever institute an award for Best 3D Feature. By this, I don't mean 3D computer animation versus the hand-drawn 2D type (which, by the way, I welcome back to the limelight with Disney's Princess and the Frog). I mean animated films produced with the intention of being projected in digital 3D.

Of course, most of Hollywood's animated films are made for and released in 3D these days, but not all are, and anyway it would be interesting to have all these pictures judged on how well they're employing the technology. Plus, if the Venice International Film Festival can have an award for 3D features, the Annie's might as well have one, too.

In such a category, Coraline would certainly trump Up. Then again, after last year's shocking and potentially scandalous Annie Awards, which saw the Best Animated Feature prize -- and pretty much all other awards -- go to Kung Fu Panda rather than Wall-E, it's plausible that Pixar will again lose to Coraline, or some other film, in most of its nominated categories.

What was your favorite animated film of the year?