Under Academy Award rules for the best animated feature category, a film must be at least 70 minutes long "with a significant number of the major characters animated, and in which animation figures in no less than 75% of the picture's running time."
"Stuart Little 2" qualified because the main character was animated and appeared in virtually every scene. Last year, questions arose over "Osmosis Jones" because live-action inserts got significant screen time.
When eight to 15 features meet the eligibility requirements, the Animated Feature Film Award Screening Committee may nominate a maximum of three films. In years when 16 or more films qualify, a maximum of five films may be nominated. As 17 features were eligible for 2002, the committee can choose up to five nominees, on which the full academy membership will vote.
Another clause states, "Films submitted in the best animated feature film category may qualify for Academy Awards in other areas, including best picture, provided they meet the criteria governing those categories." Theoretically, "Spirited Away" or, for that matter, any of the animated films, could be nominated for best picture as well as best animated feature film.
-- Charles Solomon