"Rango"

Nominated For: Best Animated Feature

What's It About: Johnny Depp voices the titular character, a pet chameleon that gets abandoned in the desert and struggles to survive; he finally finds salvation in the Old West town of Dirt, populated by the goofiest collection of animal critters west of the Mississippi. Rango runs afoul of outlaw bandits, falls in love with a brassy farmer's daughter and gets caught up in all the adventures of a classic Spaghetti Western.

Why You Should See It: "Rango" is the odds-on-favorite to win the Oscar, but it won't be without some disagreement. The movie didn't win everyone over because it's... well, it's weird. If you're expecting a straight-forward crowd-pleaser, you're better suited with the Dreamworks movies up for consideration ("Kung Fu Panda 2," "Puss in Boots). "Rango" is also fairly straight-forward in plot, but that's so the creative team has the room they need to wig out. The film is filled with vibrant textures and blinding, desert colors; animal characters are "un-cute" in a biologically-realistic way and they act as goofy as anyone would when your brain has baked in the hot sun. The movie faithfully recreates classic cowboy moments with the madcap energy of a "Looney Tunes" sketch. And if you're still clinging to the close-minded notion that "cartoons are for kids," then you'll be ticked to know that "Rango" is not a good babysitter for your young ones; there's nothing shocking or explicit in the film, just a reckless bravery to be as off-beat as possible. "Rango" is a gonzo movie, and one that could only be achieved through the limitless imagination of animation.

It's Kind Of Like: Pixar's "Cars" meets the Sergio Leone's Westerns, through the lens of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

How You Can See It: "Rango" is currently available on DVD & Blu-ray
CATEGORIES Movies