Oscars 2014 Category Breakdown: Best Animated Feature

This is a tradition for me. Every year, before the Oscars, I break down every single one of the 24 categories. I do this to familiarize everyone with each category, how it works, what its history is, how it usually turns out, and also as a precursor to my picks article, allowing me to get most of the heavy lifting out of the way beforehand.

How these work is — I go over each category’s history, give you all the previous winners and nominees, then list the current year’s nominees. And then I’ll go over how each of the guilds (if there is a corresponding guild) have went, and how that corresponds to the Oscars (some guilds mean a lot to how a category will play out. Others mean nothing). It’s basically everything you need to know in order to make an informed decision when you make your picks on Oscar night. And then I also rank the nominees at the end in terms of where I see them in terms of their likelihood to win.

Today is Best Animated Feature. A category that has pretty much dropped off the face of the earth this year.

Year Best Animated Feature Winners Other Nominees
2001 Shrek Jimmy Neutron: Boy GeniusMonsters, Inc.
2002 Spirited Away Ice AgeLilo & Stitch

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

Treasure Planet

2003 Finding Nemo Brother BearThe Triplets of Belleville
2004 The Incredibles Shark TaleShrek 2
2005 Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit Corpse BrideHowl’s Moving Castle
2006 Happy Feet CarsMonster House
2007 Ratatouille PersepolisSurf’s Up
2008 Wall-E BoltKung Fu Panda
2009 Up CoralineFantastic Mr. Fox

The Princess and the Frog

The Secret of Kells

2010 Toy Story 3 How to Train Your DragonThe Illusionist
2011 Rango A Cat in ParisChico and Rita

Kung Fu Panda 2

Puss in Boots

2012 Brave FrankenweenieParaNorman

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Wreck-It Ralph

2013 Frozen The CroodsDespicable Me 2

Ernest and Celestine

The Wind Rises

Not a long history in this category. Next year will be the 15th Animated Feature category.

So far, of the 13 times the award has been given out, Pixar has won 7 times, Disney has won once, Miyazaki won once, DreamWorks won twice, Warner Bros. once, and Paramount once.

The trend of the past few years has been “Fuck Pixar,” and “Fuck the movie everyone loved. We like real animation.” Which I’m okay with.

This year, the category turned out pretty boring, in terms of competition (though it would have been even more boring had they gone the other way), but it’s rich in terms of animation. I like the choices they made.

But it also doesn’t give us a whole lot to talk about.

Best Animated Feature

Big Hero 6

The Boxtrolls

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Song of the Sea

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Now that this one doesn’t have a surefire winner, I have no idea how this is gonna turn out.

But fortunately for us, I can easily eliminate three of the five movies, so that’ll make picking a hell of a lot easier.


5. The Boxtrolls — It’ll get a nice push and all, but let’s be serious… does anyone think this can actually win? Let’s just toss it off the list now instead of as #4, or #3, however people would haggle it out. A movie like this is only here because it was made stop-motion. I respect that, we all respect that. But they never win. The movie itself isn’t even that great. It’s all about the animation. Don’t waste your time picking this.

4. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya — Studio Ghibli has only won this category once. This is the first time a movie that wasn’t directed by Miyazaki is actually nominated in the category. And I agree with it, because this was the most beautiful animated film I saw this year. However, that means nothing when picking the category. I can’t see any reason why this would win. It’s an open vote. How many people will have seen this? I feel like the animators won’t throw their entire support behind it. The only way I could move this up any higher is if this sweeps the Annie Awards, and takes home all the major awards. And we already know that won’t happen because the Annie Awards are gonna go in the complete opposite direction, in order to make a statement (or they’re gonna tell us which of my top two is actually gonna win this category).

3. Song of the Sea — Honestly, the only reason this is so high is because I remember 2009, when The Secret of Kells got nominated and surprised people, I kept hearing, “Watch out for that movie, it could win. Watch out.” Meanwhile the rest of the category was Up, The Princess and the Frog and Fantastic Mr. Fox. So I’ll give this a small shot, but only if the animators can band together in a uniform decision to vote for this. Only then will it have a chance. And even then, I doubt that’ll be enough in an open vote. These next two have money behind them.

2. Big Hero 6 — Disney  won this category for the first time last year. They’re trying to make it twice. They stand a pretty good chance at having it happen. If I gave you this category last year (which is a loaded question, I know), you’d look at it and go, “Oh, Disney is winning.” Thing is… I don’t know if they are. This would be the one winner where no one would question it. But I find myself unable to declare them the winner just now. It’s gonna come down to this and the next movie, but I just can’t say either one is for sure going to win. What’s holding me back from saying this will win is because it’s about superheroes. And it’s not like people loved this movie. They respected it. It was nice enough. I can’t say this is your favorite based on Disney alone. But it’ll be right there. I’ll have to decide between this and…

1. How to Train Your Dragon 2 — As soon as this won the Globe, that made me start questioning things. This would have been a third choice if the category went the way people expected it to. Now, with the Globe win and the surefire winner off the board, this actually seems like it’s gonna win. It would be unprecedented, a movie having a sequel win without having won itself. Toy Story 3 doesn’t count, since there was no category when either of the previous two entries came out. In this movie’s case, it was nominated that year and lost. To Toy Story 3, actually. Which, in my writer’s brain, is a nice little piece of connective tissue to have this make sense as a frontrunner. I’ve heard people say really good things about this movie, and I honestly feel like, with the category the way it is, this is your most likely winner. All personal feelings aside, they’re either gonna go with this or go with Disney. The knock against Disney is the nature of the film, and the knock against this is people saying, “Oh, but it’s a second one, they’re never as good. And didn’t the first one lose?” You could make cases for and against both. This is for sure one of the two contenders in this category, though. Maybe the Annie Awards will help us sort this one out. (Doubtful.)

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow is Best Sound Mixing. And I know we’re all just so excited for me to explain the difference between Editing and Mixing once more.


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