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April Foolish Predix: Best Animated Features

It's past time to begin our annual tradition of predicting the future Oscar nominees way before anyone should (yes, I'm aware that nowadays every clickbait site does it the day after the Oscars but we're not into that. Jesus, ppl, let each film year settle!). Let's start with the easiest category in that it's its own world entirely, The Animated Feature. Last year was a relatively thin year for the medium, in that the number of eligible films just barely triggered a 5 wide field. We shouldn't expect a similar dearth this year.

After all 2016's already delivered a possible frontrunner (the delightful Zootopia), a hit that people have already forgotten about (Kung Fu Panda 3... currently #4 of 2016 but have you ever heard anyone talk about it?), trailers to roughly a billion would be cartoon blockbusters scheduled for 2016, and the very tantalizing prospects of an original Disney musical (Moana) and a new Laika feature (Kubo and the Two Strings).

So who do we think will win the nominations this year? I'm not falling into the trap of assuming Pixar is locked up each year (we saw The Good Dinosaur go nowhere, really, in terms of critics and awards enthusiasm) so my big no guts no glory call is that Finding Dory will miss a nomination. Yes, everyone loves Dory and Finding Nemo (2003) but I'm suspicious of a mere fanservice treading of water outing, pun intended, while we wait for a cool original again a la Inside Out. It's a strange reversal that Disney has suddenly taken up the "original" baton and Pixar is wasting its time with sequelitis.

What's below the US radar? Generally speaking online punditry seems to forget that the Academy's animation branch rightly takes foreign cartoons seriously when they're making their calls so something smallish and non American always shows up in the final shortlist. This early -- again, way too early -- I'm guessing that's The Red Turtle. It's due in September from Wild Bunch and Studio Ghibli and given those two companies it will surely be beautiful. Plus it's wordless which should be interesting. The other film I'd ink in if I was sure it would be released in time is Loving Vincent, an entirely oil painted (!!!) animated biopic of Vincent Van Gogh. 

There's a lot to consider out there: martial artist pandas, red turtles, amnesian fish, little princes, secretive pets, pissed off birds, delicious trolls, singing pigs, genius artists, island girls and demigods, police bunnies and more. Check out the chart and do speak up in the comments. 


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Reader Comments (9)

I didn't know we were getting a new Laika this year! Nor did I know about the Red Turtle - I'm starting to get psyched about 2016!! LET'S START THIS THING!

April 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

I'm super skeptical about FINDING DORY in general. We allow the TOY STORY franchise to blind us to the fact that Pixar doesn't do sequels well and doesn't put their heart in them.

April 4, 2016 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

I think the Finding Dory skepticism is valid.

While I know Oscar never goes for super raunch, I'm wondering if the well-reviewed Sausage Party might surprise. Definitely not a front runner, but I could see it be a spoiler.

April 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChris James

While I am cautiously optimistic about Finding Dory, I have to comment on Chris Fell's somewhat bizarre statement: "We allow the TOY STORY franchise to blind us to the fact that Pixar doesn't do sequels well and doesn't put their heart in them."

As of right now, Pixar has made sequels to three movies: Toy Story, Cars, and Monsters, Inc. Eliminating Toy Story from the equation is rather random, to say the least.

I believe the sequel to Monsters, Inc. can be termed a disappointment, and I doubt there are many that would disagree.

As for Cars, that was the least of Pixar's movies to begin with, so it's difficult to call the sequels disappointments. Instead, they were basically par for the course.

If you eliminate Toy Story right from the start because the sequels were brilliant, then we should eliminate Monsters, Inc. too, since that was the only truly bad sequel they ever made, so let's even the playing field.

It's very possible that Finding Dory will be the second sequel that can truly be labeled disappointing, but that remains to be seen. I thought the idea of Finding Nemo was stupid, but when I finally saw the movie, it ended up being one of my absolute favorites.

But pretending that Pixar doesn't do well and doesn't put their heart in sequels isn't valid and isn't supported by the evidence, especially if you immediately handicap opposing arguments by taking Toy Story 3 out of the equation.

Just saying. :-)

April 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTommy Marx

The Little Prince will never be nominated. This movie is so lame. Thay'll pass it for some foreign movie.

April 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDILMA

I don't see THE LITTLE PRINCE making it. The switch of distributors gives off an impression of damaged goods, and the film itself isn't very good. The segments inspired by the original novel's artwork look good but the rest of it is very generic. Admittedly I watched it on a plane at the end of a long flight but I struggled to stay awake during it. Newer shinier films will overtake it during the year.

April 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteve G

But remember that the animation branch march to their own beat. They may wanna go to stumps for a beleaguered colleague whose film was unceremoniously treated by a major studio.

The Red Turtle looks incredible from those couple of shots.

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

Everyone loves Dory. Who doesn't? But everyone loved the Minions, too and their film didn't get an Oscar nod, despite huge BO success.
It's always the danger of "overuse" of a beloved (supporting) character...
Anyways and even though I'm not fond of a sequel to a perfect film (imo), I do hope Finding Dory is good at least and makes nice money.
(I liked Cars 2 waayyyy more than the first one tbh-it was at least entertaining while the first one was just there.)

The picture of The Red Turtle is beautiful. Can't wait to read more about it!

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

I almost left Finding Dory out of my top five, but I wasn't brave enough :(

Anyway, I find the skepticism valid, too - it feels late in the game for a Nemo sequel, and the premise feels more appropriate for a short, maybe?

April 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDonovan W.

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