With the recent announcement that no less than 20 films were submitted for this year’s Best Animated Feature Oscar, 2009 can rightly be labeled something of a watershed year for the format. Of course, some of those entries are bland generic staples—the new Ice Age movie, the Chipmunks sequel, Battle for Terra, Monsters vs. Aliens—shiny, machine-tooled baubles designed to attract and pacify the youngest-audience quadrant for big studio profits. But considering entries like Coraline, 9, Ponyo, Up, the forthcoming A Town Called Panic, and Wes Anderson’s just-released Fantastic Mr. Fox, a strong case could be made for animation reemerging as not just a medium for displaying up-to-the minute technologies, but for personal artistic expression. This is no longer just a Pixar/Miyazaki world. Given that a director’s craft depends so fully on imagining the layout of a frame and then re-creating it before a camera, it’s surprising that more established directors haven’t tried their hands at animation—it’s a control freak’s paradise. Click here to read the rest of Jeff Reichert’s review of Fantastic Mr. Fox.