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Oscars 2015: Best Animated Feature Eligibles

There are 16 films eligible for Best Animated Feature. Fortunately for us, they changed the category a few years ago, guaranteeing five nominees as long as there are 16 qualifying films. So we got in just under the wire on this one.

They may have fudged it a little bit too, since I see a TV movie on here. But I don’t care. 5 nominees is better than 3 because it affords more opportunities for cool stuff to get in.

Anyway, here are the films that will beget your Best Animated Feature category in 2 months:

  • Anomalisa
  • The Boy And The Beast
  • Boy And The World
  • The Good Dinosaur
  • Home
  • Hotel Transylvania 2
  • Inside Out
  • Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet
  • The Laws Of The Universe – Part 0
  • Minions
  • Moomins On The Riviera
  • The Peanuts Movie
  • Regular Show: The Movie
  • Shaun The Sheep Movie
  • The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water
  • When Marnie Was There

This should be a fairly simple one to guess. So let’s do it this way:

Inside Out — you know what this is. You know it’s probably going to win. Disney’s won the past two years, but this is Pixar’s return to form, and there is no Disney movie this year. So your odds-on favorite and categorical lock is right here.

The Good Dinosaur — a Pixar double header. Too early for reviews on this, but it’s a fairly safe bet to think Pixar will land on the category twice. If this gets on and Inside Out doesn’t, there will be uproar. If this doesn’t get on, it will make sense. They don’t love Pixar in the nomination stage. They love them in the voting stage. They will leave them off if they don’t think they’re up to snuff (see: Cars 2, Monsters University). So this isn’t a lock per se, but it’s a pretty safe bet.

Anomalisa — Charlie Kaufman made a stop-motion movie. They love stop motion movies, they love Charlie Kaufman. This seems like a match made in heaven. Early reviews are crazy good (I had a chance to go to a screening on Sunday and didn’t end up going, and am really pissed at myself for not doing so), and some people are thinking this has a shot at a win. I’m not going that far just yet. For now, let’s just get it nominated. I’d call it a solid bet at the moment.

The Peanuts Movie — Reviews are terrific, and if this makes money this weekend, there’s really nothing holding it off. It’s nostalgia for all these voters’ childhoods. The only thing negative about it is the 3D animation. But if it’s charming, they’ll vote for it. Right now, these first four look like pretty good bets to end up in the category.

Minions — Universal is going to pour money into getting this nominated. Kids love minions. Despicable Me 2 is the only sequel to be nominated when the original wasn’t. (This will be relevant in a second.) I don’t think this was particularly good, and the reviews said the same. If this gets on, it’s because they recognize how much money this franchise has made and not a whole lot else. I’d say this is a 50/50 to get on at the moment.

Home — It’s Dreamworks and Fox. You can’t discount the big studios trying to get on here. I know in recent years they’ve gone to cooler, more traditionally animated choices (Song of the Sea, Princess Kaguya, Ernest and Celestine), but you have to at least consider a studio throwing enough money at something to get it on. Though reviews for this movie were worse than Minions, and box office was decent but unspectacular (at least domestically). I want to look at how well films do critically in this category, because I think the deciding factor here is that this movie wasn’t particularly well received by anyone over the age of 6. I went back to 2010, and the lowest Rotten Tomato score I found for a nominee is 70%. And because I was so surprised, I kept going, and realize you have to go back to 2004 to find any nominee under 70% on Rotten Tomatoes (Shark Tale). Which is one of those things I never really noticed before but is now something I’m going to use in picking from now on. Because it seems the Animation Branch has some taste.

Hotel Transylvania 2 — Despicable Me 2 is the only sequel to be nominated when the first one wasn’t. Also, <70%. Not a chance.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water — not a chance, and I think we all know and accept this. Also technically a sequel. (Though it does meet the 70% threshold.)

When Marnie Was There — Ghibli. They’ve gotten on here the last two years. This year is slightly tougher, but this could be your fifth nominee. You can never rule out the beauty of Ghibli. Not universally as acclaimed as Princess Kaguya was, but this might well be the last Ghibli movie ever made. Maybe that gets it through. Or maybe the respect for traditional animation gets this through. This is top six or seven for sure. Have to consider it all the way until the end.

Shaun the Sheep Movie — Oh. Yeah. This is based on the guy who did Wallace and Gromit. Near universal acclaim. Remember when The Pirates Band of Misfits got on? This could be that same deal. Do not rule this out.

Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet — This is the last of the films I’ve heard of. Lot of directors on it, problem is it’s based on something mostly known in other countries and not America. The Academy doesn’t seem to like that. Remember Book of Life? This doesn’t feel like something they’d go for. It does fit the threshold (barely), but I can’t see them going for something like this over the two previous (or even something like Minions, really).

All right, so that leaves us with five movies that I just do not know what the hell they are. So let’s find out together:

The Boy and the Beast — Is this some kind of sick porno? Looks incredibly well made. But if they’re going with Japan, they’re going with Ghibli. A boy and a beast from an imaginary world go on adventures. No chance.

Boy and the World — Is this some kind of sick porno? This looks gorgeous, by the way. I almost hope this gets nominated just so I can see it. Good on them. I still want to see this one. It looks like something I’d have voted for if it was in the Animated Short category. So far, of the remaining “not a chance” nominees, this has the best shot.

Moomins On The Riviera — Is this some kind of sick porno? This looks weird. For them, at least. I’m sure it’s fine. But no. No a chance in the Animated Feature category. If this was a 12 minute film, it would stand a chance in the Animated Short category, but absolutely no chance here at all.

The Laws Of The Universe Part 0 — Yeah… not gonna happen. Not even gonna waste time talking about it. Skip.

Regular Show: The Movie — This is a TV movie. This would be like if that Family Guy movie was shortlisted in this category. This seems like it’s here to make sure they could get to five nominees. Of the 16 potential nominees, this is #16. Zero chance.

– – – – –

Okay, so that was easy. Here’s how we do this:

Don’t Even Think About These For a Second:

  • Regular Show: The Movie
  • The Laws of the Universe Part 0
  • The Boy and the Beast

You Can Think About Them For a Second, But They Won’t Get Nominated:

  • Moomins on the Riviera
  • The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

If They’re Feeling Sassy, It Could Happen (But I Doubt It):

  • Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet
  • Boy and the World

Assume They Won’t, But Don’t Be Surprised If They Do (Because Money):

  • Home
  • Hotel Transylvania 2

That all make sense? Right now, I’m throwing out 9 of the 16 nominees. Which leaves me with 7 potential nominees. Don’t overthink this. It’s your job to make things as easy as possible. I learned this from my father whenever we’d bet on horses. I’d say, “This one has a shot too,” and he’d say, “What, are you gonna be on every horse?” Pick your contenders, and throw out the rest. If you’re wrong, you’re wrong. As long as you can go, “Oh, I see where I was wrong.”

I’d be surprised (but could understand. Though even then, I’m still saying this is <10%) if The Prophet or Boy and the World got nominated. Hotel Transylvania won’t happen. Home… maybe, but I really really doubt it. So just throw them all out and let them beat you. Of all the ones I’m throwing out, only one will get on if that even happens. You can live with 4/5.

Anyway, that leaves 7 movies that I think have a serious shot here. And here’s how I’d rank them:

1. Inside Out — This is on. Already locked.

2. The Good Dinosaur — not a lock, but at this point, you have to consider it #2 because it makes the most sense. This isn’t the strongest year for nominees. This should rise to the top pretty quickly unless it somehow crashes and burns with critics.

3. Anomalisa — stop motion, Charlie Kaufman. How the hell doesn’t this get on?

4. The Peanuts Movie — the reviews are outstanding. This seems like an easy choice. Not calling it a lock, but this will likely stay on my final predictions and I’ll just be wrong if it doesn’t get on. Look at all the other movies, this seems like a pretty easy choice.

I think those four are on. Which leaves three more options. I’m gonna rank how I see them as being likely to end up on the list:

5. Shaun the Sheep Movie — Same realm as Wallace and Gromit, near universal acclaim, and remember when Band of Misfits snuck on (OVER Monsters University). Don’t sleep on this movie.

6. Minions — It made a shit ton of money and Universal is gonna campaign for it. It could happen. But no one thought it was any good. So I’d be surprised, but not shocked if it got on because that would be an admission that throwing money at things works. The Animation Branch seems unsusceptible to that sort of thing. It feels unlikely that this will actually happen. I don’t think I’m gonna guess this.

7. When Marnie Was There — Ghibli’s been here two years running. It has a chance. Though I’d say it’s about 50/50 with Minions. Could happen, could easily not. I don’t know.

– – – – –

Feels like, to me, your final category is gonna be:

  • Anomalisa
  • The Good Dinosaur
  • Inside Out
  • The Peanuts Movie
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie

And Inside Out is your almost certain winner.

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8 responses

  1. Yeah, sounds about right…I don’t expect Minions to be there at all.

    Moomins is btw based on a children book series which in turn has spawned no less than two TV series. There is certainly an audience for is, but even if it is good, it’s status as children franchise pretty much disqualifies it unless it does something truly unexpected. Plus experience shows that Americans have a hard time to grasp the Moomins. They are very…Scandinavian, in lack for a better word.

    November 5, 2015 at 11:52 pm

  2. I actually feel Minions will get nominated instead of Anomalisa just because it made so much money even though it doesn’t deserve the award at all.

    November 6, 2015 at 7:46 am

    • That’d be a damn shame. Minions is my least favorite film of 2015 so far.

      November 6, 2015 at 9:45 am

      • Oh, I definitely believe it has no right to be nominated at all, but I don’t think that’ll prevent it from being nominated.

        November 6, 2015 at 12:12 pm

      • The silver lining is this new thing I’ve stumbled upon where the Animation Branch actually does seem to nominate films that resonate well with critics (i.e. are generally viewed as “good” quality films).

        The only time in recent years where something I thought was a clear lower quality entry that got on was The Croods, and even that was very well-received by everyone. So I have some confidence that they won’t actually nominate Minions.

        Of course, there are always going to be exceptions to rules, but that does give me hope that they’d be more willing to go with something like Shaun the Sheep over Minions. I think they delineate these movies by story over “cash grab.” For instance, the later Shrek movies, and all the later Ice Age stuff. They know what’s there to churn out money and what’s actually there for artistic sake. Now, you could argue that Despicable Me 2 was essentially a cash grab, but that was well-received by everyone and they did think it was a pretty good movie. I think Minions is clearly marked as being “mainstream” now and I think that’s gonna be a red herring for a lot of people come January. They’re gonna automatically assume it’ll get on, and I don’t know if that’s the case.

        November 6, 2015 at 12:56 pm

  3. “The Boy and the Beast — Is this some kind of sick porno? Looks incredibly well made. But if they’re going with Japan, they’re going with Ghibli. A boy and a beast from an imaginary world go on adventures. No chance.”

    =====
    First off, great intro sentence for the films you don’t know about. It’s a bit of a shame, though, because the director (Mamoru Hosoda) seems to be the only working anime director making great stand-alone anime films in our current age of retired Miyazaki and Takahata (well the latter…I don’t know if Takahata has made it official, but he is older than Miyazaki). Hosoda came off of working off the Digimon franchise and released The Girl Who Leapt Through Time back in 2006, which is a beautiful film. Then Hosoda made Summer Wars, a film which is to me what Lili is to you (remember that film?). I just ADORE that film. Then he made Wolf Children before The Boy & The Beast, which was fine, if a bit unwieldy.

    I’m waiting for GKids to make that English dub for The Boy & The Beast. (Or, at the very least, a working version with English subtitles (which I’d prefer) that I can watch on the Internet.)

    Don’t underestimate Mamoru Hosoda, dude. I strongly recommend that you watch his films. Given his age, filmography, and productivity, he’s probably the only guy in the running for the title of “the next Miyazaki”.

    =====
    As for the rest of the eligibles…Inside Out, yes. Good Dinosaur, yes. Really want to see Anomalisa, given the buzz around it. I am an admirer of the Hotel Transylvania films, mostly due to Genndy Tartakovsky’s direction, but I accept the sequel’s low chances at a nomination. I really hope Minions doesn’t get nominated. It’s my least favorite film of 2015 so far. I hate it. At least Home was just whatever; Minions infuriated me, for what it was and what it probably represents (i.e. blatant cash grab). Shaun the Sheep…THAT’S the film I’m emotionally invested in. (In fact, I love it more than Inside Out.) I’m in strong support for its nomination, not just for Best Animated Feature, but ESPECIALLY for Best Original Song for “Feels Like Summer” (which, if you haven’t heard it, it plays at the very start of the film. But here it is anyway; it’s a JOY to listen to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAKCpoLhMME). Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, I suspect, is a film that is talked about more than is actually seen, but I hope to see it before the nominations are announced. And When Marnie Was There…solid, if uneventful Ghibli film. Probably better as a category filler. (And given it’s competition, it’s probably not going to happen.)

    November 6, 2015 at 9:43 am

    • But seriously, that intro sentence: “Is this some kind of sick porno?” Hahahaha! ^_^

      November 6, 2015 at 9:44 am

    • Right now, I have only three movies pre-September that I haven’t seen (not counting the two or three I deliberately skipped). The Prophet is one of them. (The other two, one is coming out on DVD in like ten days an the other we’re getting a screener for, so I’ll see it.) I’m hopeful I’ll get to it before the end of the year.

      November 6, 2015 at 10:41 am

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