This year, the Academy nominated a couple of films in major(-ish) categories that are, let us say, a tad less well known than that movie about the ‘roided-out Smurfs and the big tree. Notably, one of the nominees in the Best Animated Film category is The Secret of Kells, a 9th century-set tale about monks, Viking hordes, and the ancient art of book illuminating. I haven’t actually seen Kells, but I can tell you that one of the main characters is voiced by the awesome Brendan Gleeson and that the movie was made by a company based in the Irish town of Kilkenny (a place I’ve visited a couple of times to attend its excellent comedy festival, and whose main street has three pubs in a row). The film will apparently get a proper, wider, release in the US this spring.

I have, on the other hand, seen the In The Loop, which got a deserved nod for Best Adapted Screenplay. There are basically three things you need to know about this British black comedy, whose cast includes James Gandolfini, Anna Chlumsky and the little known in America but staggeringly great Scottish actor Peter Capaldi: It’s essentially about the build-up to the Iraq war, but don’t let that put you off. It’s basically a big screen version of a British sitcom called The Thick of It, but don’t let that put off. And it may well be the most foul-mouthed movie ever to be nominated for anything, and you probably should let that put you off if you have a problem with potty-mouthed performances (seriously this thing is the Citizen Kane of swearing movies).

Take a look for yourself — trailer below for The Secret of Kells and after the jump for In The Loop.

Have you seen either of these films? What did you think?