DreamWorks Animation has officially launched the Oscar race for 2011.
This week, the company took the unusual move of mailing out For Your Consideration fliers of its highly-regarded “How to Train You Dragon,” throwing the movie in contention for not only best animated feature but also for best picture of the year (among other categories).
The fact that it’s supporting the movie isn’t the unusual part — the movie is easily one the best films of the year so far — but it’s not even Labor Day yet! Many awards voters aren’t even in town to receive the mailing.
But the move does put DWA in pole position for the animation race which will likely turn out to be one of the hotly contested categories this year.
“Dragon” has an awesome 98% rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes so you’d think it would have a great edge. But look out! Its rival, “Toy Story 3” from practically perennial winner Pixar, has 99%.
“The Illusionist,” from “The Triplets of Belleville” director Sylvain Chomet, is a beautiful movie, an almost wordless wonder that is a strong if less commercial contender. (It’s been hitting the festival circuit and will play in Toronto.) And don’t rule out “Legend of the Guardian,” director Zack Snyder’s animated feature debut. The owl movie has amazing craft behind it, and great action sequences that, if matched with heart, could surprise many.
There are other movies, too, and the category will again likely have five nominees.
And as for best picture? Only time will tell, as we enter the festival and awards season. But for now, DWA is shrewdly putting the picture back in the minds of viewers as a reminder how good their movie is just as the gate for this year’s horse race is about to open.