Oscars 2017 Category Breakdown: Best Animated Feature

Every year, as we lead up to the Oscars, I break down each of the 24 categories. I do this to familiarize everyone with the category; what the trends are, how the guilds and stuff help (or don’t), etc. I also do it as a precursor to my giant Oscar ballot. I get most of the heavy lifting out of the way here, so that way when I get to the article, I’m just kind of riffing on how I think it’ll turn out and talking myself into all the bad decisions. It’s like college. And this is the pregame.

How these articles work is — I give you all the previous winners and nominees of each of the categories, then tell you how accurate each of the respective guilds and precursors are in what they vote for versus what wins the Oscar, tell you how each of them voted this year, then give you this year’s category, along with a quick rundown of how we ended up with that category (what was a surprise, etc). After that, I rank each of this year’s nominees in terms of how I see them right now in terms of their likelihood to win. Which is nothing more than my perception (notice that underline, even though you won’t) of how the category seems at the moment based on everything I know and have seen. Which will give you a general sense of the favorites.

Today is Best Animated Feature. You know… that minefield.

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

2015 Inside Out Anomalisa

Boy and the World

Shaun the Sheep Movie

When Marnie Was There

2016 Zootopia Kubo and the Two Strings


My Life as a Zucchini

The Red Turtle

Technically the Annie Awards are a precursor, and all the other big shows hand out Animation Awards, but I think all you need to know in the way of picking this category is right here:

Best Animated Feature

The Boss Baby

The Breadwinner



Loving Vincent

The big three (Coco, Breadwinner and Loving Vincent) were locked all the way through. The only question was how the final two were gonna go. And since the new voting system rewards mainstream movies over the more arty choices the guild had been picking, we were left with Ferdinand, which is forgettable drivel, over something really awesome like The Girl Without Hands or Mary and the Witch’s Flower, and ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE THE BOSS BABY.

As much as I wanna be upset that Ferdinand got on… The Boss Baby got on too. So I guess I have to hold in my anger at this new system until they screw it up again next year.


5. Ferdinand — Not a chance in hell this wins. Technically it should be fourth choice, since at least it got good reviews. There’s that stat (which I discovered, mind you) where only three times ever has a film been labeled “Rotten” on Rotten Tomatoes and gone on to be nominated in this category. Even further, only five times ever has a film been nominated below 70%. And the two “Fresh” films below 70% were at 69%. So yeah. That means that, in the end, The Boss Baby is likely the fifth choice based on precedent. But we all know what’s winning this category and what isn’t, so it really doesn’t matter, does it?

4. The Boss Baby — Academy Award nominee The Boss Baby. That’s really all I need. We know it’ll never win. But man, will I down a fifth of bourbon if it does.

3. Loving Vincent — The entire film is comprised of hand-drawn oil paintings. It’s hands down the greatest animated achievement of the year. Still won’t win because not enough people even saw it. And even those who did, such as myself, will admit that the story really isn’t all that great. It’s more of a technical achievement than anything else. The nomination is what it should have gotten. I’m one of the biggest champions of this film that’s out there and even I wouldn’t vote for it.

2. The Breadwinner — Lovely film. Will get some votes. But in the end, not enough people will have seen it and not enough people will be voting for it over Pixar. Probably the second choice by default, purely because of its message and all that. But still… ain’t happening.

1. Coco — It’s Pixar. That aside, everyone loved the movie. The only negative things I heard about it were about the stupid Olaf short beforehand. The one that never ended and sucked. I don’t need to explain this at all. I think this, along with Gary Oldman, is one of the three biggest locks of the night. And even if you think it could lose, you’re not stupid enough to not label this the favorite going in. But hey, you need some sort of empirical data to back it up? How about this? Aside from sweeping the Annies (literally won every category in which it was nominated), and the Globe, and the BFCA, and a bunch of other awards like PGA and DGA and such — since this category started, Pixar has only lost twice for an original animated film. One was the first Animated Feature category, where Monsters Inc lost to Shrek. The other? Cars. Lost to Happy Feet. Every other original Pixar idea since then has won this award. Even Brave, which beat Wreck-It Ralph. And nobody even really liked Brave. Trust me, this is winning.

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