Oscars 2015 Category Breakdown: Best Animated Feature

Every year before the Oscars I break down each of the 24 categories. I do this to familiarize everyone with the 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. Also known is, “Is Pixar winning this year, or Disney?” (Hint: It’s probably Pixar.)

Year Best Animated Feature Winners Other Nominees
2001 Shrek Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius

Monsters, Inc.

2002 Spirited Away Ice Age

Lilo & Stitch

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

Treasure Planet

2003 Finding Nemo Brother Bear

The Triplets of Belleville

2004 The Incredibles Shark Tale

Shrek 2

2005 Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit Corpse Bride

Howl’s Moving Castle

2006 Happy Feet Cars

Monster House

2007 Ratatouille Persepolis

Surf’s Up

2008 Wall-E Bolt

Kung Fu Panda

2009 Up Coraline

Fantastic Mr. Fox

The Princess and the Frog

The Secret of Kells

2010 Toy Story 3 How to Train Your Dragon

The Illusionist

2011 Rango A Cat in Paris

Chico and Rita

Kung Fu Panda 2

Puss in Boots

2012 Brave Frankenweenie


The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Wreck-It Ralph

2013 Frozen The Croods

Despicable Me 2

Ernest and Celestine

The Wind Rises

2014 Big Hero 6 The Boxtrolls

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Song of the Sea

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

This year is the 15th Best Animated Feature category.

So far, of the 14 times the award has been given out, Pixar has won 7 times, Disney has won twice, 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 had frontrunners all the way, and in the end, they took off the weaker of the two Pixar nominees and the cute but otherwise generic CGI animated film in favor of two hand-drawn animated films. And I’m getting more and more respect for this branch with each passing year because they certainly like to make things interesting. They nominate what they have to nominate (meaning, the best of the bunch), and they really pay attention to the craft of animation. Good for them.

Oh, and this category is beyond locked. So you get to have a category with artistic integrity and get it right without a second thought. That’s a double win.

Best Animated Feature


Boy and the World

Inside Out

Shaun the Sheep Movie

When Marnie Was There

The Good Dinosaur and The Peanuts Movie were thought to be nominees, but the animation branch again goes with the more interesting, hand-drawn options. Which is nice, especially since there’s no way Pixar is losing this.


5. Boy and the World — this was a surprise nominee, and no one even knows what this is. At best this gets 1-2% of the overall vote. No chance. It is lovely, though.

4. When Marnie Was There — Ghibli is great, that might get it some votes, but we’re still looking at 5% or less. They barely get nominated, and it’s even more difficult for a non-Miyazaki movie. No chance this wins.

3. Shaun the Sheep Movie — this is a lot of people’s favorite animated film of the year. But it still has no chance. They’ve only won once, for Wallace and Gromit, but they constantly get nominated. This won’t win at all.

2. Anomalisa — A lot of people will vote for this, and it will make a respectable showing, but not enough to even consider it a possible upset winner. I’d love to see it, but it won’t happen.

1. Inside Out — Pixar has this shit on lock. They’ve won this category for a lesser film. There’s no way they’re losing for this, which is probably one of their three or four best films of all time. This is a lock among all locks.

– – – – – – – – – –

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.


2 responses

  1. Yup, I agree. I especially loved that Boy and the World was nominated since it would have totally flown under my radar otherwise. Though naturally the animation is the most interesting thing of the movie. And I am glad that some audience pleasers like the Peanuts movie (which is a fine movie, but nothing more imho) and The minions didn’t make it.

    I am not in love in Inside Out, but I have to respect a well crafted movie when I see one. And that certainly is one. Creative, mostly original, top notch animation, it would be a major upset if it doesn’t win.

    This is the one category of the academy award I feel comfortable to have an informed opinion about, but other than the year in which Shrek one and the year in which Brave won, they usually don’t pick a movie I can really disagree on. Not necessarily the one I would have picked (I would have loved to see Song of the Seas win last year, but naturally, it never had a chance), but always one which was deserving.

    February 7, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    • Nah, the whole point was to give Chapman the award, even though she was booted off the project before it was even finished. But there aren’t many female animators in the business, and she has worked on critical acclaimed movies in the past, before there was an academy award for animation. So I guess Brave got it so that she finally go her due. It certainly didn’t deserve it. In this year were at least three movies released which were way better than Brave.
      I love the animation of Princess Kaguya, but I felt it was kind of unfocussed overall. I didn’t mind that it was really long for a fairly simply story, but the narrative didn’t really flow, it felt disjointed at parts.

      February 7, 2016 at 5:34 pm

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