With The Adventures of Tintin shut out of the Best Animated Feature Oscar race – which many are suggesting is because the voting body doesn't supporting motion-captured films – it looks like Gore Verbinski's existentialist cowboy comedy Rango is once again the frontrunner for the Academy Award. Paramount has responded very quickly, so quickly in fact that it must have been planned for a while, by announcing that Rango will return to theaters this Friday, January 27. It's a one-week run, and for now appears to be limited to the Arclight theater in Hollywood, California.
Obviously this move is intended to boost Rango's visibility, and therefore its chances at winning the Oscar. Rango is expected to handily defeat its two American contenders for the Best Animated Feature, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots, but it now faces surprise competition from Chico & Rita and A Cat in Paris, two dark horse foreign films which might be good enough to mess with its chances. We say "might" be because, well, nobody's seen the damned things. The last time the Best Animated Feature race featured such an unexpected contender was in 2009, when The Secret of Kells pulled out a surprise nomination. But that was 2009, and nothing but nothing was going to compete with Pixar's Up. This year Pixar is absent from the category for the first time since 2005, thanks to the lackluster sequel Cars 2, so given the lack of clear competition, either film could wind up giving Rango a run for its money.
Of course it's not much of a theatrical run – theaters are crowded enough as it is – but this speedy move seems to indicate that Paramount really wants to win this thing, and as well they should. Rango is an excellent movie that made our Top Ten Films of 2011.
CraveOnline will be back with more Oscar news as we ride off into the sunset…