Oscar History

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First Round Oscar Predix: Animated Feature

The first chart is up and we're starting with the toons since they're the easiest to tackle given a limited slate of contenders. Not that "easy" is a word one should use when surveying the current state of animation which is, shall we say, robust. Give or take live action superheroes, it's the single most popular film genre in the US marketplace. We'd prefer to call animation a "medium" which is more accurate given that there's no reason why there couldn't be animated dramas, noirs, westerns, horror flicks, thrillers, etcetera but in the US at least animation is not a medium but a genre (the computer generated family action comedy... with or without musical numbers).

Is Laika Animation still too unique for Oscar or are they 'thisclose' to finally winning? Could The Boxtrolls be their breakthrough?

In terms of the Oscar race ahead, I've already heard whisperings (including my own preemie voice) that this will be a slim or "weak" year but let's not get ahead of ourselves. That's what everyone was saying last year and everyone turned out to be wrong. Last year's shortlist was hardly an embarassment; Frozen, Ernest & Celestine, and The Wind Rises would be a fairly worthy trio of nominees in any year and The Croods wasn't half bad. (I never saw Despicable Me 2 but its popularity with the public was indisputable)

While I still think there's very little cause for this particular category to exist given the expanded Best Picture field, the animated genre produces its fair share of strong movies annually with most of the major studios upping their games steadily after nearly 20 years of watching Pixar horde all the loot & respect. The problem in current perception may well be Pixar itself. They've finally proven themselves fallible critically and awards-wise (they missed even a nomination in 2 of the last 3 Oscar battles) and 2015 is the first year in a decade without a new Pixar film in release. That was bound to cast weird shadows on "The State of Animation." But the sky isn't falling. If you love animation there are still a lot of films to look forward to.

first look at a fictional San Francisco in "Big Hero 6"


The Chart!
Which of these films are you most looking forward to and what you think will become of animation in the next few years? Do you think the race will be hotly contested this year or we'll have another slam dunk like Frozen?

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Reader Comments (24)

wish you had started with best supporting actor or something juicy.

May 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjimmy

Yay Oscar predictions! I really don't know what to think Dreamworks' "Home." For whatever reason I thought it was a short film, or not being released in theaters, or something, but everywhere I've read has included it in predictions thus far. Do y'all have some inside info that I don't?

If this year's category comes down to a Laika/Ghibli/GKids showdown, I'll weep for joy. We'd all win in that scenario.

May 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoe K

I just hate the notion of "animation is a medium and not a genre"; for me it goes without saying.
There are some films that I'm not sure will qualify for US release:

-Marnie's Memories (Ghibli)
-Giovanni's Island (another anime about friendship among children from two different countries with a war background)
-Postman Pat: The Movie (based on a UK animated series)
-Pinocchio (a stop-motion directed by Guillermo Del Toro)
-Patema Inverted (another acclaimed anime that had been distributed by GKIDS)

May 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertombeet

I worry the title THE BOXTROLLS is going to turn audiences off. HERE BE MONSTERS feels like a better title, although I can understand changing it given MONSTERS INC and MONSTERS VS ALIENS. Still... Boxtrolls isn't really PARANORMAN type of title.

May 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

"Foosball," renamed "Underdogs" and distributed by the Weinstein Co., will be released 27 August.

May 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

jimmy -- there's no pleasing you!

May 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I still think there's very little cause for this particular category to exist given the expanded Best Picture field

Non-animated titles will continue to dominate the category because animation rarely unites a consensus as it once did many years ago in that glorious decade of the nineties when Beauty and the Best broke through the five allotted Best Picture field.

May 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

These Animated predictions seem pretty spot on, give or take Big Hero 6 since it's the only major Disney flick in the mix. Also, and this has nothing to do with 2014 predictions which I can't wait for, but I'd love for you to finish off the 2013 Film Bitch Awards. I really want to know which of your nominees you'd give gold, silver, and bronze to for Director, Actor, many of the visual categories, your extra categories, etc!

May 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdoughyjunn

I would dismiss Mr. Peabody to the lower levels of likeliness with the likes of Nutjob... As far as I know, contrary to being a hit, the movie lost money to Dreamworks (third such loser among their four last releases) to the tune of 57 million.

May 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSljaknir

I have high hopes for The Boxtrolls</>! I think they deserved Oscars for Coraline and <ParaNorman, so I'm hoping this is just as great and can finally get them a win.

May 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKeelay!

Ugh, that post messed up! Let me do it the right way (OCD).

I have high hopes for The Boxtrolls! I think they deserved Oscars for Coraline and ParaNorman, so I'm hoping this is just as great and can finally get them a win.

Whew, that's better.

May 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKeelay!

Sljaknir -- agreed. But i had to have ten slots to make the chart balanced.

May 3, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Don't you think the Animated category has encouraged studios to get some of the riskier foreign fare in the marketplace + given them a bigger platform? That's a win in my book.

May 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJake D

Jake D -- really? I mean ernest & celestine and the wind rises felt like they were barely released. I'd like to be hopeful about this but i think the rules should be much stricter. It's ridiculous that 33% of the eligible contenders can be nominated!

May 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

...i think the rules should be much stricter. It's ridiculous that 33% of the eligible contenders can be nominated!

What? If we were discussing live-action titles you would be upset that more movies weren't considered.

May 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

/3rtful -- you're absolutely crazy or just trying to pick a fight. I've been extremely consistent on this point. I've long lamented the expansion of the Best Picture field. It should stay at five. If Best Picture had the same rule as animated for # of nominees you'd see about 90 films nominated for Best Pictures which is just stupid. "Best" should be an honor, not EVERYONE GETS A NOMINATION.

May 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

<I>While I still think there's very little cause for this particular category to exist given the expanded Best Picture field</I>

I really don't see how that changes things. An animated movie is never going to win Best Picture, at least not without a radical shift in perception, so the Animated Feature category is the venue for actually rewarding talented creators like Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton. A nomination isn't the same as a win, and the only other Oscars that animated films can ever compete for are some of the song/score awards and maybe sound.

May 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSean C.

Sean C.: and screenplay, don't forget screenplay (7 of the 13 winners in this category were screenplay nominees)...

May 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

Sean C -- my point is that if an animated film makes a huge mark critically and commercially and wows everyone it CAN compete in Best Picture as Beauty & the Beast, Up, and Toy Story 3 have shown us. Isn't that enough?

May 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

You know, the interesting thing is that the very reason this category was created was because of one film that didn't get a Best Picture nomination despite a huge push among the Academy members, and that film was Chicken Run. Not sure how accurate this is, but here's an excerpt from that film's IMDB Trivia page:

"There was a major push to get the film nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The failure to get the nomination, and the popularity of the film among Academy members led to the inclusion of Best Animated Feature for the next Academy Awards (2002), which was won by fellow Dreamworks film Shrek (2001)."

One thing I will say for this category is that it gives children a place to give a damn about the Oscars (or should I say, a place for childres WHO give a damn about the Oscars), since most years it's the only category in which they are likely to have seen the winner and most (if not all) of the nominees. This category came about when I was 13 (at which point I was beginning to branch out, movie-wise) and I kept thinking I would have loved to have this category when I started watching the Oscars (the first ceremony I ever watched was the year Titanic sweeped)...

May 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

and furthermore this is one of very few category where the Academy goes further and choose many art-house (and great) foreign films (the inclusion of the Secret of Kells instead of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatball was unexpected then, for me was one of their best decision ever). This is by far one of my favourite Oscar categories and I for once think it is necessary to have it as people should pay more respect to the animation medium (given it takes far more time and effort to make an animation feature compare to live-action feature)

May 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertombeet

I dont' know i it will ever ger a USA release. But the best animation film I've seen in a while is the brazilian "The Boy and the World". It definitely should get a release since it's silent. Here's the trailler: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rHgiSMiHhs

May 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPedroPet

PedroPet - that looks cool. I've added that to the long list on the chart for "might prove eligible". Thanks for sharing!

May 5, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I think the nominees will be something like:
Big Hero 6
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Boxtrolls
The Lego Movie
And some other smaller film that I haven't heard about like Ernest & Celestine last year

May 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTy Moore

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