Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wednesday Oscar Retrospective: The Deadlocked Duel of 2006

Welcome to a new weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Wednesday Oscar Retrospective. The Deadlocked Duel is the fourth in a series of projects looking back at the past eight years of the Oscars, dating back to the first ceremony I watched and closely followed.

Each year after the Oscar nominations are announced, there’s at least one category where two nominees end up in a heated battle for the award right up until Oscar night, dividing predictors and keeping Oscar watchers anxiously in suspense. This series is devoted to analyzing the biggest and most intense of those battles each year, in any category.

The Deadlocked Duel of 2006:

“Cars” vs. “Happy Feet” for Best Animated Feature

The background: Talking cars driving around the country vs. dancing penguins. Both animated films were enormously successful at the box office. “Cars” earned $244 million and “Happy Feet” took in $198. Pixar (the studio behind “Cars”) had twice before won in this category – “Finding Nemo” and “The Incredibles.”

Why it was just the two of them: “Monster House” may have been fun, but it wasn’t really in the running.

Setting the stage: “Happy Feet” was sort of always the underdog to the goliath Pixar picture. “Cars” won the Golden Globe, the PGA, and a handful of other critics’ awards. Most significantly, “Happy Feet” bombed at the Annie Awards, earning a paltry two nominations (feature and writing) while “Cars” won in two of its nine nominated categories, for best feature and best music.

Oscar night: A strange swap occurred with songs from each film. A tune from “Happy Feet” had won at the Golden Globes and then wasn’t even nominated at the Oscars, while a song from “Cars” didn’t earn a Globe nod but did get recognized by the Oscars with a nomination. Even with an additional nomination in its corner, “Cars” still managed to lose out to “Happy Feet,” which danced away with a victory.

Consolation prize for the loser: The prior awards and the (slightly) higher box office. Both are remembered fondly, I’d say.

Other notable duels: None. This is probably the least interesting year for duels (except maybe 2005 – next week’s post).

Come back next week for a look at the Deadlocked Duel of 2005. If you have a prediction or a suggestion, please leave it in the comments. I’m short on ideas since Best Picture doesn’t really count and there weren’t any other surprises.

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