Thursday, February 18, 2010

UK MoD releases UFO files

In Yahoo! today is this very intriguing story about the always interesting mystery of UFO's:

One of the UFO photos released by the MoD

Flying Toblerones, mysterious illnesses and "silky-white substances" are among hundreds of close encounters described in previously top-secret files released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

More than 6,000 pages of material spanning from 1994 to 2000 holds hundreds of other-worldly experiences with unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and apparent aliens across Britain.

Aircraft of all shapes and sizes have been witnessed flying over a wide range of locations - including Chelsea Football Club and the former Home Secretary Michael Howard's home in Kent.

One man told police he was physically sick and developed a "skin condition" after an eerie "tube of light" enveloped his car in Ebbw Vale, in Wales, at 10.40pm on January 27 1997.

The file, the fifth released under a three-year project between the MoD and The National Archives, consists of 24 records of sightings, letters and Parliamentary Questions.

Highlights include a man who arrived at his Birmingham home at 4am on March 20, 1997, to discover an illuminated blue triangle hovering over his garden. The craft shot off leaving behind a "silky-white" substance on the tree-tops, which he collected in a jam-jar.

And a West Lothian electrician who spotted a "Toblerone-shaped" UFO hovering over a field. A sketch of the craft is included in the report.

Experts believe the records highlight how shapes of reported UFOs have changed over the last half-century.

Dr David Clarke, author of The UFO Files and senior lecturer in journalism from Sheffield Hallam University said: "In the 1950s the next big leap in technology was thought to be a round craft that took off vertically and it's intriguing to note that this is the same period when people began to report seeing 'flying saucers' in the sky."
(End quote)

I like the photo, released by the MoD with all the other UFO documents and photos. It's hard to argue with evidence like that. Whether it's aliens or not still remains to be seen, but UFO's in themselves are clearly very real - after all, "UFO" just means Unidentified Flying Object, not necessarily a flying saucer or other supposed alien spacecraft.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thailand political unrest, once more

The neverending Thai political troubles have reared their ugly head once more, which is very bad news indeed. Su has posted a well written article about it in her blog, so you can get a sensible Thai perspective on what's currently going on (as opposed to some of the ridiculously sensationalist Western media stories I've recently read about it) here:

Thai Political Troubles, February 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Making Thailand famous for what it's famous for

I just read this very interesting and rather amusing article in today's online edition of the Bangkok Post newspaper:

Even by the unpredictable standards of Amazing Thailand, this one came out of left field. Jaws are dropping all over "Brandland" following the bold assertion by the New York adman and self-styled design guru Peter Arnell that Thailand is in desperate need of rebranding and - drumroll please - he is just the man to do it.

Like many a newbie before him, Mr Arnell jetted into Thailand for the first time for a 12-day stay a couple of months back and promptly fell head over heels in love with the place. Nothing wrong with that, of course; it has happened to the best of us. But is that really a sound foundation on which to declare oneself the anointed saviour of Brand Thailand?

Never mind that most of his trip was spent in the cosseted embrace of the Mandarin Oriental hotel, as part of Martha Stewart's pampered posse. Never mind that of his last two multi-million dollar rebranding projects, one met mixed reviews at best and the other was an abject failure.

(His Pepsi rebranding, which some see as clean and contemporary, and others as minimal and boring, was supported by a pseudo-scientific rationale of phonebook proportions, dubbed "Breathless", which cited everything from Da Vinci's golden ratio to gravitational and magnetic fields to eastern philosophy to justify the design. His more recent makeover of Tropicana orange juice ended in high farce, after consumers mistook the new packaging for supermarkets' generic juice. Result? Millions of dollars wasted and the old look revived.)

Mr Arnell is undaunted, and says: "Thailand is not the place of wacky bars or crazy nightlife that most people think it is. It is a sensible, harmonious, calm, peaceful and respectful country driven by humanity and a soulfulness, unlike any other place in the world.

"I think I can make this place famous for what it's famous for, instead of what we think it's famous for," he said, adding that he wants to provide the country with a unique, easily recognisable symbol, based on the distinctive temple spires of its classic architecture.

"I felt very strongly that Thailand didn't have a symbol, like Switzerland has the cross or Canada has the maple leaf."

Does Thailand need a symbol? It's true, symbols and icons are shortcuts to the subconscious and increase a brand's stickiness. The US has its bald eagle, Australia its kangaroo, New Zealand its silver fern, Japan its rising sun. But these symbols were embraced after decades.

Can one self-appointed expert waltz in and decide what a nation's symbol should be? I'm certainly not advocating design by committee, and sometimes in branding fresh eyes are no bad thing, but surely some sort of national "buy-in" is required. On what insights does Mr Arnell lay claim to temple spires as Thailand's most appropriate symbol?

While a country is certainly a brand, it is not a commodity in the same way a bottle of soda or orange juice is. A certain level of sensitivity and respect is required, something lacking in Mr Arnell's brash publicity-seeking assertions.

Besides, Thailand already has a superb positioning. "Amazing Thailand" is awesome, and kudos to whoever dreamed it up a decade ago. It encapsulates all that is sublime, mysterious, captivating and occasionally ridiculous about the Land of Smiles. It's such a great idea, India simply stole it with its Incredible India campaign.

Perhaps Mr Arnell's comments can be a catalyst for further debate. The Tourism Authority of Thailand's current "Amazing Value" campaign is an understandable knee-jerk reaction to the economic crisis. It is tactical, but hardly inspirational. And sure, there may well be more domestic political upheavals to contend with - problems the slickest slogan can't transcend.

But Thailand is remarkably resilient, as recent months' tourism figures have shown. In the longer term, surely the way to go is a more far-reaching, exciting and visionary take on Amazing Thailand.

In a nation that is seeking to style itself as Asia's "creative economy", surely we can find the wherewithal from within to tackle the task.
(End quote)

That Mr. Arnell's got some cojones, that's for sure!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Su's got a Home Page too now

My wife is learning html and css at the moment, which isn't as easy as some people say it is - I'm still trying to get to grips with it all properly despite using html for over 10 years now (and despite - or perhaps because of - having worked in IT since 1985).

Anyway I digress. Further to my post at the end of December last year about Su creating a web presence for herself, you can view Su's rather lovely new home page here:

Sureephon Inns's Home Page

Breakthrough Gives Hope For Cure To MS

This is amazingly good news (published in Yahoo! today):

Multiple sclerosis researchers have made an important breakthrough sparking hope of a cure for the disease.

The University of Buffalo study in New York opens the possibility of identifying a treatment for the degenerative condition.

There is already evidence that sufferers are benefiting from surgery which unblocks veins in the neck.

Sky's health correspondent, Thomas Moore, described the breakthrough as "tantalising evidence".

"This could change the way we view multiple sclerosis," he said.

The treatment is not yet available in this country but Martin Jones travelled to Poland for surgery.

"These are only early days, but it's looking good so far," he said.

"It's made a large difference to my symptoms.

"I have warm feet. I have stopped choking on my food. My balance is better.

"I have less twitching at night, in fact that's stopped."

The American study backs initial study findings in Italy.

More than 55% of MS patients participating in the Buffalo research were found to have the neck abnormality, a condition called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, or CCSVI.

Robert Zivadinov, associate professor of neurology and principal investigator on the study, said he was "cautiously optimistic and excited" about the results.

MS is the most common disabling neurological condition affecting young adults, with 100,000 sufferers in the UK.

Researchers believe it is the result of damage to myelin - a protective sheath surrounding nerve fibres of the central nervous system.

When myelin is damaged, this interferes with messages between the brain and other parts of the body.
(End quote)

My only question is this: Why is this fantastic life-changing, and potentially life-saving, new treatment available in Poland but not in the UK? Did I miss some major news where Poland suddenly became one of the world's top 10 economic powers and the UK stopped being one? No, of course not. Here's the real reason why the UK is no longer as advanced as Poland in medicine:

Bankers take far too much money out of the economy and put very little back ("offshore banking and tax havens", anyone?!), and they more than anyone are responsible for the continuing global economic problems caused by "their" credit crunch in 2007. And those continuing economic problems are one of the chief causes of the NHS constantly being underfunded and being unable to provide all the medical care it could otherwise provide - there simply isn't enough money in the general economy. We can all see other very visible effects of that every day in the UK's high streets, for example.

It is time to make the bankers pay back a fair proportion of what they take out of the economy, for the good of everyone, including themselves in the long run - see my previous post about taxing bankers for the way to make that happen - and then important medical breakthroughs like this radical new MS treatment can be made available to everyone in the UK who needs them, for free, as per the primary mandate of the NHS! I mean really people, when have you ever seen a poor banker? We've all seen plenty of poor working-class people in the past year though, haven't we?!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

UK MPs urged to back "Robin Hood tax" on banks

I really like this story published in Yahoo! yesterday, I think it's a campaign that we should all support:

Charities, campaign groups and unions have called on politicians to back a "Robin Hood tax" on banks' financial transactions to raise billions of pounds to fight poverty, climate change and protect public services.

The groups claim the global tax would help tackle the "human damage" caused by the global recession.

To mark the campaign a message was projected onto the Bank of England building which said:

"Be Part Of The World's Greatest Bank Job".

The campaigners say money raised from the tax would help avoid cuts in public services, meet the Government's target to end child poverty, protect schools and hospitals and encourage more people to find work.

In a letter to the major political parties the groups said: "You could ignore the big problems facing the world, and accept that climate change will stay unchecked, and that the poorest people at home and abroad will have a very hard time of it over the next decade. Or you can find all the money needed by directly taxing the British public themselves.

"Or you can work to find an innovative, modern, regular way of accumulating a fund of money to deal with big issues boldly. We would ask you seriously to consider the Robin Hood Tax as that radical new option - a small tax on bankers that would make a huge difference to the UK, to the poorest countries and to our planet. Let's turn the crisis for the banks into an opportunity for Britain and the world."
(End quote)

I couldn't agree more - what a brilliant idea! Show your support for this excellent campaign by linking to this blog post (URL = ), and by blogging and tweeting this story yourselves.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Disney's The Princess and the Frog online games and wallpaper

One of the posters for the 2009 movie "The Princess and the Frog"

Disney's latest cartoon feature film, the traditionally animated "The Princess and the Frog", was released in the US in November last year, but it was only released in the UK last Friday. I have no idea why Disney delay UK releases like that, they do it with a lot of their films - see my post about them doing it to Pixar's "UP" last year for example. Ho hum.

Anyway, the new film is the classic "princess kisses a frog" fairy tale retold with a modern twist, and it heralds a somewhat brave return by Disney to hand-drawn animation for the first time in over 5 years after a number of successful computer-generated 3D films such as 2007's "Meet the Robinsons" and 2008's "Bolt".

The gamble seems to have paid off nicely, with the film performing very well at the box-office and being nominated for 2 Oscars: Best Animated Feature Film plus two separate nominations for Best Original Song (see my previous post about that here).

To tie in with the film, here are four free "Disney's The Princess and the Frog" online games plus two free "Disney Princess" online games for you to enjoy (which include some Princess and the Frog wallpaper and Disney Princess wallpaper in multiple sizes too):

  Princess and the Frog: Bayou Adventure

  Princess and the Frog: Tiana and the Tiara

  Princess and the Frog: Magic Gumbo Mix

  Princess and the Frog: Magic Match

  Disney Princess: Hidden Treasures

  Disney Princess: Magic Garden Mayhem

Bonus free download: "Disney's The Princess and the Frog" colouring pages

All the above fun and games, together with hundreds more Disney and Pixar games and wallpapers, can be found in the Disney and Pixar Free Online Games site.

(See also here)

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Liam Gallagher renames Oasis

When Oasis, one of my favourite rock bands ever, split up last year I was quite sad about it. But it was obvious that brothers and former Oasis bandmates Liam and Noel Gallagher were not going to quit the music industry, despite the split.

Now Liam has said he is assembling his remaining bandmates to begin work on a new album, and he's promising us a new name for the new band too:

Liam told radio station XFM, "No, it's not Oasis. That was a sh*t name anyway. I'm glad to see the back of it. There's a name that we're digging at the moment, but we're going to get on with the music and see how it goes."

He's refusing to reveal the new name for the time being, but he promises we won't have to wait long to see the 'new Oasis' in action:

"We'll be on stage this year - without a doubt. We're halfway through the record - the demos, that is. We're in the studio this April to see if this producer works out. If he does, we'll crack on with the album through June and July."

Meanwhile, Noel Gallagher is set to play his first post-Oasis gigs in March for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Friday, February 05, 2010

And the 2010 Oscar Nominees are.....

Further to my post two days ago about Pixar's "Up" being favourite for this year's best animated film Oscar, the current full list of 2010 Oscar nominations for the ceremony due to be held on Sunday March 7th is as follows (from - see also here):

Best motion picture of the year
"Avatar" (20th Century Fox)
"The Blind Side" (Warner Bros.)
"District 9" (Sony Pictures Releasing)
"An Education" (Sony Pictures Classics)
"The Hurt Locker" (Summit Entertainment)
"Inglourious Basterds" (The Weinstein Company)
"Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" (Lionsgate)
"A Serious Man" (Focus Features)
"Up" (Walt Disney)
"Up in the Air" (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios)

Best animated feature film of the year
"Coraline" (Focus Features) Henry Selick
"Fantastic Mr. Fox" (20th Century Fox) Wes Anderson
"The Princess and the Frog" (Walt Disney) John Musker and Ron Clements
"The Secret of Kells" (GKIDS) Tomm Moore
"Up" (Walt Disney) Pete Docter

Best animated short film
"French Roast"
"Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty" (Brown Bag Films)
"The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)"
"Logorama" (Autour de Minuit)
"A Matter of Loaf and Death" (Aardman Animations)

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Jeff Bridges in "Crazy Heart" (Fox Searchlight)
George Clooney in "Up in the Air" (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios)
Colin Firth in "A Single Man" (The Weinstein Company)
Morgan Freeman in "Invictus" (Warner Bros.)
Jeremy Renner in "The Hurt Locker" (Summit Entertainment)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Matt Damon in "Invictus" (Warner Bros.)
Woody Harrelson in "The Messenger" (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
Christopher Plummer in "The Last Station" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Stanley Tucci in "The Lovely Bones" (DreamWorks in association with Film4, Distributed by Paramount)
Christoph Waltz in "Inglourious Basterds" (The Weinstein Company)

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side" (Warner Bros.)
Helen Mirren in "The Last Station" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Carey Mulligan in "An Education" (Sony Pictures Classics)
Gabourey Sidibe in "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" (Lionsgate)
Meryl Streep in "Julie & Julia" (Sony Pictures Releasing)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Penélope Cruz in "Nine" (The Weinstein Company)
Vera Farmiga in "Up in the Air" (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios)
Maggie Gyllenhaal in "Crazy Heart" (Fox Searchlight)
Anna Kendrick in "Up in the Air" (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios)
Mo'Nique in "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" (Lionsgate)

Achievement in directing
"Avatar" (20th Century Fox) James Cameron
"The Hurt Locker" (Summit Entertainment) Kathryn Bigelow
"Inglourious Basterds" (The Weinstein Company) Quentin Tarantino
"Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" (Lionsgate) Lee Daniels
"Up in the Air" (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios) Jason Reitman

Achievement in art direction
"Avatar" (20th Century Fox) Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg
"The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" (Sony Pictures Classics) Art Direction: Dave Warren and Anastasia Masaro
"Nine" (The Weinstein Company) Art Direction: John Myhre
"Sherlock Holmes" (Warner Bros.) Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood
"The Young Victoria" (Apparition) Art Direction: Patrice Vermette

Achievement in cinematography
"Avatar" (20th Century Fox) Mauro Fiore
"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (Warner Bros.) Bruno Delbonnel
"The Hurt Locker" (Summit Entertainment) Barry Ackroyd
"Inglourious Basterds" (The Weinstein Company) Robert Richardson
"The White Ribbon" (Sony Pictures Classics) Christian Berger

Achievement in costume design
"Bright Star" (Apparition) Janet Patterson
"Coco before Chanel" (Sony Pictures Classics) Catherine Leterrier
"The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" (Sony Pictures Classics) Monique Prudhomme
"Nine" (The Weinstein Company) Colleen Atwood
"The Young Victoria" (Apparition) Sandy Powell

Achievement in film editing
"Avatar" (20th Century Fox) Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
"District 9" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Julian Clarke
"The Hurt Locker" (Summit Entertainment) Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
"Inglourious Basterds" (The Weinstein Company) Sally Menke
"Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" (Lionsgate) Joe Klotz

Achievement in makeup
"Il Divo" (MPI Media Group through Music Box) Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
"Star Trek" (Paramount and Spyglass Entertainment) Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
"The Young Victoria" (Apparition) Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
"Avatar" (20th Century Fox) James Horner
"Fantastic Mr. Fox" (20th Century Fox) Alexandre Desplat
"The Hurt Locker" (Summit Entertainment) Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
"Sherlock Holmes" (Warner Bros.) Hans Zimmer
"Up" (Walt Disney) Michael Giacchino

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
"Almost There" from "The Princess and the Frog" (Walt Disney) Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
"Down in New Orleans" from "The Princess and the Frog" (Walt Disney) Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
"Loin de Paname" from "Paris 36" (Sony Pictures Classics) Music by Reinhardt Wagner
"Take It All" from "Nine" (The Weinstein Company) Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston
"The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)" from "Crazy Heart" (Fox Searchlight) Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett

Achievement in sound editing
"Avatar" (20th Century Fox) Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
"The Hurt Locker" (Summit Entertainment) Paul N.J. Ottosson
"Inglourious Basterds" (The Weinstein Company) Wylie Stateman
"Star Trek" (Paramount and Spyglass Entertainment) Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin
"Up" (Walt Disney) Michael Silvers and Tom Myers

Achievement in sound mixing
"Avatar" (20th Century Fox) Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony Johnson
"The Hurt Locker" (Summit Entertainment) Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
"Inglourious Basterds" (The Weinstein Company) Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti and Mark Ulano
"Star Trek" (Paramount and Spyglass Entertainment) Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson and Peter J. Devlin
"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" (DreamWorks and Paramount in association with Hasbro, Distributed by Paramount) Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers and Geoffrey Patterson

Achievement in visual effects
"Avatar" (20th Century Fox) Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
"District 9" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken
"Star Trek" (Paramount and Spyglass Entertainment) Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton

Adapted screenplay
"District 9" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
"An Education" (Sony Pictures Classics) Screenplay by Nick Hornby
"In the Loop" (IFC Films) Screenplay by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
"Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" (Lionsgate) Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher
"Up in the Air" (Paramount in association with Cold Spring Pictures and DW Studios) Screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

Original screenplay
"The Hurt Locker" (Summit Entertainment) Written by Mark Boal
"Inglourious Basterds" (The Weinstein Company) Written by Quentin Tarantino
"The Messenger" (Oscilloscope Laboratories) Written by Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman
"A Serious Man" (Focus Features) Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
"Up" (Walt Disney) Screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter

Best live action short film
"The Door" (Network Ireland Television)
"Instead of Abracadabra" (The Swedish Film Institute)
"Miracle Fish" (Premium Films)
"The New Tenants"

Best documentary feature
"Burma VJ" (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
"The Cove" (Roadside Attractions)
"Food, Inc." (Magnolia Pictures)
"The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers"
"Which Way Home"

Best documentary short subject
"China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province"
"The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner"
"The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant"
"Music by Prudence"
"Rabbit à la Berlin" (Deckert Distribution)

Best foreign language film of the year
"Ajami"(Kino International)
"El Secreto de Sus Ojos" (Sony Pictures Classics)
"The Milk of Sorrow"
"Un Prophète" (Sony Pictures Classics)
"The White Ribbon" (Sony Pictures Classics)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Matrix online games and wallpaper

One of the posters for the 1999 movie "The Matrix"

The other day when I bought the first 10 seasons of South Park plus the South Park movie on DVD (see my post about that here), I also bought The Matrix trilogy of movies on DVD because I didn't previously have them.

I really like the first Matrix movie from 1999, and the second one, "The Matrix Reloaded" from 2003, is absolutely brilliant. The final part of the trilogy, "The Matrix Revolutions" also from 2003, is not so good in my opinion, but it does provide an interesting end to the story arc.

One of the posters for the 2003 movie "The Matrix Reloaded"

For some reason I had never watched all three of the films "back-to-back" before, and it was much more fun doing that than watching them separately, highly recommended in fact. I'm going to try and get hold of the DVD of "The Animatrix" cartoon mini-series next, as that's also supposed to be quite good.

One of the posters for the 2003 movie "The Matrix Revolutions"

Here are three great free Matrix online games for you to play (which also include Matrix wallpaper backgrounds too):

  The Matrix: Rampage

  The Matrix: Dock Defense

  The Matrix: BulletTime Fighting

You can find these Matrix games, plus hundreds more great games, in the Free Movie, Cartoon and TV Online Games Website. Enjoy!

(See also here)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Pixar's Up is favourite for animation Oscar

My favourite animated film from last year, Disney/Pixar's wonderful "Up" (see my previous posts about it here: Up Flash online games and here: Up is released in the UK), is seen as the clear favourite to win this year's Oscar for best animated film, according to an article in Yahoo! today:

The animation category at this year's Oscars ceremony presents a crowded field of singing frogs, sly foxes and spunky kids, but despite some tough competition, the high-flying adventure movie "Up" is expected to float away with the Oscar.

Disney/Pixar's "Up" this week became the only animated film apart from 1991's "Beauty and the Beast" to land a best picture nod, and the movie about a boy and an old man who fly off in a house tied to balloons is also nominated in the animated category.

There, it's up against Twentieth Century Fox's "Fantastic Mr. Fox", the Walt Disney Co's "The Princess and the Frog", Focus Features' "Coraline" and European production "The Secret of Kells", which critics say was a surprise choice, because it played in only a handful of U.S. cinemas.

Filmmakers and critics say the nominated movies are all very different, all very good, and rival the dramas in the coveted best picture category.

"Animation actually outdid the live-action movies this year, it's an extraordinarily competitive field in terms of quality," said Peter Hammond, a critic with Los Angeles Times awards tracker

But Hammond said "Up" is the "overwhelming favourite" in the animated category.

The five animated movies include two that came out in 3-D ("Up" and "Coraline"), two made with tiny figurines manipulated through a painstaking process called stop-motion ("Fantastic Mr. Fox" and "Coraline") and two hand-drawn films ("The Princess and the Frog" and "The Secret of Kells").

"It's really cool, because I feel like a number of years ago all the films were in the same zone, all trying to do the same type of thing," said Pete Docter, co-director of "Up," which was made with computer-generated imagery.

"And now it's so many different approaches to it, that it shows that animation is in a healthy place," Docter said.

The Oscar field for animation was widened to five films this year, from its usual three, because of the amount of eligible films.

Even so, Tom O'Neil of said some high-quality films failed to make the list, most notably Oscar winning Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki's "Ponyo."

Henry Selick, the director of "Coraline," agrees.

"'Up' is a masterpiece and most likely will win, but there's a lot of great animated films, many of which did not get in the list of five nominees," he said.

For his part, Selick said that to compete with the likes of Disney/Pixar, he had to "take a chance on a different sort of story, a different sort of look."

"Coraline" is about a young girl who escapes mom and dad through a magical passageway in her home, but finds things were better with her real parents.

For the film, Selick hired one crew member whose only job was to knit miniature sweaters for the characters.

"The Princess and the Frog," a musical about a New Orleans waitress who falls in love with a foreign prince-turned-frog, is Disney's first hand-drawn animated film in six years.

The film has made more than $100 million (62.9 million pounds) in the U.S. and Canada since its November release, and the Oscar nomination could help as it expands its overseas roll-out, which Disney said has already brought in more than $100 million.

It looks like a success now, but in making "The Princess and the Frog" Disney was taking a chance that audiences would again go for a hand-drawn film, after years in which Pixar-style computer animation set the standard.
(End quote)

I am surprised that the highest grossing animated film of last year, Blue Sky's excellent "Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" didn't get nominated for an Oscar, or even mentioned in the above article.

You can play hundreds of quality online games, and choose from hundreds of desktop wallpaper backgrounds, related to movies, cartoons, TV shows, video games and so on by following these links:

Top 10 Movie-related Online Games of 2009

Movie, Cartoon and TV Online Games Collection

Mario, Sonic, Nintendo and Sega Online Games Collection