Define optimism: putting your film up against Wall-E in the race for a Best Animated Feature Oscar. After all, I’ m fairly certain that Pixar’s loveable little robot has it in the bag. Yet that hasn’t stopped studios of all shapes and sizes from putting forward thirteen animated films as contenders for the 2009 award.

Wall-E, of course, makes fourteen. And they are: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Kung-Fu Panda, Waltz With Bashir, The Tale Of Despereaux, Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who!, Bolt, Delgo, Fly Me To The Moon, Igor, Dragon Hunters, $9.99, The Sky Crawlers, and Sword Of The Stranger.

Of that fourteen, only three films will actually be nominated when the announcements are made on January 22. And after that, of course, only one (Wall-E) can win (just give it to Wall-E now, I won’t say anything).

Mind you, I may be getting ahead of myself here. Although some of the other contenders would seem to be barking up the wrong tree (Igor? Seriously? Madagascar 2? WTF), some of the films there will fancy their chances of causing an upset come next February.

Waltz With Bashir, for example, is a serious and stunning drama (apparently) that could become this year’s Persepolis, while I’d put Kung-Fu Panda in there because it was just plain awesome. But, at this point in time, I reckon it’s Wall-E’s Oscar to lose. If you disagree, of course, feel free to vent below.