We've heard in recent years that that the unwashed masses were tuning out on the Academy Awards because popular favorites (i.e. wide-appeal blockbusters) were being ignored in favor of critical darlings that few people had seen. To broaden the race and stir up excitement, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences once again expanded the Best Picture category to 10 nominees last year -- and promptly rewarded little-seen critical fave 'The Hurt Locker' with the Oscar.

Should this year's critical favorite also receive the Oscar? 'Toy Story 3' is the best-reviewed film of the year, according to Rotten Tomatoes (per Reuters), followed closely by 'The Social Network.' The latter film is the one that's been most often cited by critics' groups and appears to be in a dead-heat with 'Black Swan' for Best Picture honors. Following in the footsteps of last year's 'Up,' 'Toy Story 3' is likely to be nominated both for Best Picture and Best Animated Feature Film, but probably won't be considered a serious contender for Best Picture. Is that fair?




Disney/Pixar is working hard to counter the perception that animated films should be content with nominations in their own, specially-created category. As our own Monika Bartyzel reported, their recent ad campaign emphasizes the adult themes of the picture, tying it to other Oscar winners for Best Picture, such as 'On the Waterfront,' 'The Sound of Music' and 'The Silence of the Lambs.'

Winning an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film would definitely be an honor for 'Toy Story 3,' which isn't necessarily a set-in-stone lock. (Since the category was created in time for the 2001 awards, Pixar has won five times and lost twice. This year, 'How to Train Your Dragon' is also a critical favorite and box office success story, and could surprise people by winning the award.) Only three animated films will be nominated this year, so who knows what'll happen?

The Academy Awards are intended to honor "outstanding achievements in theatrically released feature-length motion pictures," in line with the Academy's rules. The Best Picture award should go to the "best motion picture of the year." Nearly 300 films are eligible for awards this year, a long list that includes documentaries and animated pictures along with live-action productions. There's no reason, according to the Academy, that a documentary or animated feature couldn't win for Best Picture.

Moviefone editors declared 'Toy Story 3' the best movie of 2010 and we think it should win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

What do you think?