1 of 5
Nominees: Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
Stars: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson
Box office: $237.2 million*
What Lisa Schwarzbaum said: ''Brave?makes headlines first of all because the movie applauds the heroics of a female person for a change: a Scottish princess named Merida (voiced with irresistible authenticity by Macdonald). And second of all because Merida is defined by a huge unruly tumble of long bright-red curls that, in its refusal to be combed, let alone pinned down, signifies the opposite of ladylike passivity. Her untamed tresses are a Samson-like manifestation of her strength and independent spirit. ''
What Andrews said: ''Merida just happens to be, by default, in the society of a princess. We don't really call her Princess often in the movie. And she's trying to reconcile this difference between how the world wants her to be, and how she sees herself. Ultimately, she's going to have to look inside herself, and what she finds in the mirror is not exactly what she expected. That's kind of our definition of 'brave' in the movie — looking inside yourself and coming to grips with who exactly you are.''
*BoxOfficeMojo.com estimated domestic total as of Jan. 24, 2013
2 of 5
Nominee: Tim Burton
Stars: Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short
Box office: $35.1 million
What Lisa Schwarzbaum said: ''[This] homage to Frankenstein in particular and horror movies in general is exquisite, macabre mayhem and a kind of reanimation all its own. [It's a] lovingly detailed work of stop-motion construction in black and white and story-enhancing 3-D.''
What Burton said: ''With my background in animation, I wanted to make the characters look more like my original drawings. There's just more of a weird kind of energy in those drawings, and there are certain acting things that you can't do with a real dog, you know? We wanted real dog emotions, and it's a little easier to try to get that in animation.''
3 of 5
Nominees: Sam Fell and Chris Butler
Stars: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Box office: $56 million
What Lisa Schwarzbaum said: ''The story may be thin, but the project, a feat of stop-motion animation, is made with generous care by the same impressive LAIKA studio artists who conjured up the gorgeous Coraline.''
What Smit-McPhee said: ''Probably the hardest part [is making] all those weird noises. We went from like little [heavy breathing] pants, and worked our way up even bigger, bigger, bigger, to terrified stuff. It was actually pretty draining.'
4 of 5
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Nominee: Peter Lord
Stars: Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven
Box office: $31 million
What Adam Markovitz said: ''[Thanks to great claymation] you can almost smell the brine in the boat helmed by Pirate Captain (Grant) on his quest to win Pirate of the Year. The regal glares of his archenemy, Queen Victoria (Staunton), are tangibly cruel.''
What Lord said: ''I was so grateful that [Hugh] really engaged with it as a performance — that was the exciting thing. ? As a director, you want to share out the pain amongst as many people as possible. You want the great vocal performance, and you want the great animator — which we had.''
5 of 5
Nominee: Rich Moore
Stars: John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Sarah Silverman
Box office: $181.7 million
What Keith Staskiewicz said: ''An 8-bit brute with a heart of gold, Ralph (voiced with hangdog perfection by Reilly) escapes his game on a quest to prove to the world that there's more to him than just being bad.''
What producer Clark Spencer said: ''We said [about wrangling several old-school videogame icons for the film], 'It can't just be things we want to do just because it'll be funny or a good story element. We've got to figure out how to make [the characters' being in the film] an advantage.'''