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« May Flowers on their way | Main | New Oscar Predix! (And What Of Consecutive Nomination Heat?) »

Early Bird Oscar Predix: The Toons

Last year's Animated Oscar race is going to be a tough act to follow. In what was arguably the most competitive race of all 12 years of Oscar's newest category, there was precious little agreement about who might win and even less about who deserved to; Brave, Frankenweenie, ParaNorman and Wreck-It Ralph all had their loyal camps (Pirates! A Band of Misfits was the only "just happy to be nominated" contestant.) At the very last minute, buzz-wise, it appeared to boil down to Disney vs. Disney/Pixar. Big-fisted Ralph fought big-haired Merida and the Scottish lass won.

But what does 2013 have in store for us? It's looking like a much leaner year, and a least at first glance, a far less animated (heh) one. Monsters University might just be emblematic of what's going on. The prequel to the inaugural loser of this very category (Monsters Inc) is, like all the rest, part of a franchise or would-be-franchise and also a noisy colorful 3D CGI fest for very young children. That's about all there seems to be from The Croods on through Free Birds in which two turkeys (voiced by Owen Wilson & Woody Harrelson) travel back in time to stop the first Thanksgiving. There's less variety both in types of audiences sought and in types of animated styles.

For different styles and tones of animation we'll have to look to foreign films. Pray and pray hard that Hayao Miyazaki's latest The Wind Rises crosses the Ocean in time. I don't know if it's finished since news has been sparse but Ana Y Bruno is a Mexican film about a little girl who meets a goblin (or some such) in the psych ward of her mother's hospitable (?). But even with foreign films they're often just trying to be Hollywood blockbusters. I haven't seen more than a still from South Africa's Khumba! about a half-striped zebra but it looks very much like a Madagascar-spinoff. And one of it's characters is "Bradley, a self-obsessed, flamboyant ostrich." Uhoh. Should we alert GLAAD?

Hayao Miyazaki's "The Wind Rises" is bowing this summer in Japan

The film that I'm most excited about Song of the Sea, a follow up from the team who made the jaw-droppingly gorgeous The Secret of Kells, will not be ready for this year's race. Big sigh. Which is not to say that this year's race will be lacking in previous Oscar players. One interesting possible development, depending on which films achieve eligiblity is the presence of former Best Foreign Film nominees as directors of new animated features. The Argentinian director of Oscar winner The Secret in Their Eyes, Juan José Campanellahas made a toon called Metegol (aka Foosball) about a foosball team come to life and the Mexican director Carlos Carrera whose drama The Crime of Father Amaro was Oscar nominated is behind the aforementioned Ana

We hope that GKids, the new off-the-beaten path animated distributor, brings us something interesting again but for now my crystal ball says it's Disney vs. Disney/Pixar again this year (Round Two). I'm predicting that the final battle will come down to Frozen (based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale 'The Snow Queen') vs. Monsters University. Only this time maybe Disney will beat Pixar... forcing Mike and Sulley to remain Oscarless. Oscar voters will continue to live with their greatest shame: preferring Shrek to Monsters, Inc.

In the absence of a Pixar original (I'll stop weeping that they've joined the rest of Hollywood in franchise laziness and just live with it though I reserve the right to spit at Toy Story 4 whenever that rolls around given that its existence would forever tarnish the finality . What other choice do I have?) the film I'm most eager to see is definitely Frozen. I loved Tangled (which went unnominated in a narrower field of three) and I'm hoping that their latest musical fairytale -- this one has Kristen Bell and Broadway musical alumni Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, and Jonathan Groff doing the voicework -- is a worthy follow up.

RELATED: New Animated Feature Oscar Chart

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Reader Comments (17)

The non-acting categories are boring. They are especially boring because no one in the Academy has good taste. I'm speaking collectively not individually.

Animation's for children except when it's not. Don't tell me you're waiting until the end to get to the people in front of the camera?

May 5, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Is From Up on Poppy Hill eligible?

May 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick Gratton

Also, I'm just wondering Nat, Is the Congress slated to be coming out this week as well. Is that considered Animation?

May 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick Gratton

I'm still mad about Monsters, Inc. losing the Oscar to Shrek.


May 5, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Patrick Gratton - I think it was eligible last year.

I do think that at this early stage it seems highly likely that Disney Animation Studios finally wins its first Oscar for 'Frozen'. I'm hopin this movie will be as good as the wonderful Tangled, which was sadly and unjustly snubbed.

May 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterConrado

Patrick -- yeah, Conrado is right. It was passed over last year when it was eligible. See the chart here and good catch on The Congress, I've added it. WALTZ WITH BASHIR was eligible in this category (though they didnt vote for it).

May 5, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Ernest and Celestine. If it's eligible, of course. It'll be the Sylvain Chomet of this year, I suspect.

May 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

I can't wait for Frozen. But then I'm a big Menzel and Groff fan.

May 5, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertee

I agree with Glenn about Ernest & Celestine. It's a charming film, and I don't usually like animated films.

May 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBill_the_Bear

Why can't Kristin Bell be called a Broadway Musical alumni too? She's been in Broadway musicals (okay, just one, but still!) :D

Also, the link at the bottom of the post goes to the 2012 nominees, not the 2013 chart.

Do not mention the words Toy Story 4 ever. Even if it happens. Just pretend otherwise :D

May 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

But doesn't "Epic" look as familiar as it's generic title? Or is it just another re-make of "Ferngully"?

May 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Charlie Kaufman has the stop motion Anomalisa. I doubt the new Miyazaki movie will be out this year stateside, but Mamoru Hosoda (an up and coming talent who could be "the next Miyazaki) has Wolf Children confirmed for US release this year. GKids is also releasing A Letter to Momo.

May 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRubi

Nate ,

Updated chart for best actress, PLEASE!

May 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark

I particularly interested in this year animated films, i suspect this is a year when big studio fail to make impact and foreign indie films could rise instead. Ernest and Celestine git rave revivews, double cannon from Ghibli (Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata no less - the last time they released 2 films together we got classics My Neighbor Totoro and Graves of the Fireflies). Then there is Makoto Shinkai's new film The garden of Words (but I doubt it will make it in time this year in US. Wolf Children was technically released last year but hopefully will finally appear in US this year. And finally legendary Don Hertzfeltz with his It's such a beautiful day (a collection of 3 shirt films about the ordinary guy named Bill) coild make big impact if it releases this year.
I dont think the Congress will qualify as animated film, as it contains considerable amount of live action in it.

May 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTombeet

Considering the "ohpleasegodno" relating to Miffy The Movie in the Chart; I'll say that it is not a bad film. Plus, it is stop-motion, which is always good, right? Still, it has zero chance of getting a nominee due to it being aimed squarely at really young kids. Maybe a google image search for Barry Atsma, one of the voices in the original version will help? :)

Ernest & Celestine is truly great though.

May 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

GKids is releasing "The Painting" in theaters this weekend!


May 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge P.

George -- that one was eligible last year for some reason

May 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternathanielr

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