Forgive me, but with the Academy Awards rapidly approaching, my mind is all movies, all the time, because I’m also trying my best to put together a predictions list which this year, seems to be more difficult than ever. However, I think I’ve got a good one compiled, even though I’ve come close to submitting near guesses.

If you haven’t been trained with a critical eye, some categories are quite a struggle. I mean, I’m sure there are plenty of viewers who wouldn’t necessarily be able to identify which film should win best editing or best sound mixing because to the average viewer, those things are misunderstood or not understood at all.

Then there is animation, which is the most fun of all the categories because there is a little wiggle room allowed for straightforward, honest-to-goodness opinion. Especially the past few award shows, Pixar’s soon-to-be classics have been sweeping the award from the other struggling animation studios. This year with the expansion of the Best Picture to include 10 nominations instead of the usual five, Pixar’s Up is nominated for both Best Animated Feature and Best Picture, which is a big deal seeing as it’s the first computer-generated film and second animated film to be nominated ever in the history of the Academy Awards.

If I’m being completely honest, I would have to say it’s a little disappointing and disheartening for me to see that Up is virtually a shoo-in for the Best Animated prize, seeing as it was honored with a Best Picture nod as well. Of course, I’m a tad biased because I am (secretly or not-so-secretly) rooting for Henry Selick’s stop motion work of pure genius, Coraline.

Which reins me in from my digression and directly to my point: What is the role of animation in this day and age? Is it possible for an adult viewer to identify with an animated feature on the same level as a live-action drama or comedy or suspense thriller?

Apparently the Academy thinks so. There was much talk this summer when Up was released about the montage in the beginning of the film that not only alludes to a miscarriage, but also to the death of the main character’s wife. Heavy, heavy stuff for a kids’ movie. And even though my vote is still with Mr. Selick, I have to say that sequence was pretty darn incredible.

Which leads me to my second point, that animation is making a name for itself as a medium for the mass audiences. People are going to the movies to see these films and not necessarily with their children. If you have hopped on the bandwagon of CG, sketchbook or stop-motion animation, then boy do I have a projections event for you.

Animation Block Party is a film festival that was developed in 2004 and is dedicated to exhibiting the world’s best independent, student and professional animation. Based in New York City, the official fest has thus far received over 5,000 submissions from across the world.

Obviously, the catch is that the festival runs in the summer... in New York. Fear not fellow cartoon lovers, Animation Block Party will be making its premier California appearance at the New Beverly Cinema on Feb. 18.

The event includes two exclusive “Best of ABP” screenings and film highlights of the 2008 and 2009 ABP Audience Award winners, 2009 Experimental Film winner and 2009 Documentary Short favorite. Film festival animators and past winners will also participate in the event at the New Beverly. To kick off the big night of animation, Animation Block Party founder, Casey Safron, will introduce the screenings.

Bring an open mind and good attitude, as these are the films that should be given more support. These are the creators, animators and innovators who will be bringing us the next films nominated for Best Picture. Drawing, sketching, molding ... it all takes an incredible talent that should never be underestimated. It’s a good thing this festival is around to keep alive and growing the kids’ films that are now also made for the adult audience in mind.

In the spirit of compromise, I will let Up keep both of its nominations.

New Beverly Cinema is located at 7165 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. For more information, visit