Oscars 2018 Category Breakdown: Best Animated Feature

So what we do here each year as a warm up for the Oscars is, I break down each of the 24 categories. The idea is to both familiarize everyone with the category and its history. I look at what the major trends are throughout the past bunch of years, how the precursors tend to go, whether they matter or not, that sort of stuff. I look at how the category came to be this year, and just anything else that seems totally pertinent about it. Then I rank each of the nominees and tell you what their likelihood (at this particular moment in time) of winning is.

This is all prelude to my giant Oscar ballot that I’m gonna give you. But I figure, if you have these as the warmup, it’s not as intimidating. You’ll have seen a lot of the pertinent trends here and we’ll all be able to reference these as a sort of cheat sheet. Plus it shows you where my head is at for how I think each of the categories are gonna go, and you can see me working my way up to all the bad decisions I usually make while guessing. Pretty much, with this, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how the category is gonna turn out.

Today is Best Animated Feature. Which we don’t really need any precursors for, but I guess they help a little bit. Still, we know where this one is at. We can talk about it now.

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

2017 Coco The Boss Baby

The Breadwinner


Loving Vincent

Put it this way — Disney or Pixar wins most of these years. You know how many times they’ve not won? Five times. You know how many times they were nominated in those five? Three. One was the first category, where Shrek beat Monsters Inc. One was the second category, where Spirited Away beat both Treasure Planet and Lilo & Stitch. And the third was 2006, where Happy Feet beat Cars. The other two categories, Wallace and Gromit won and Rango won. Disney/Pixar weren’t nominated those years.

This year poses an interesting situation, since the likely winner is neither Disney nor Pixar, and both Disney and Pixar are nominated, but not with their strongest of efforts.

Best Animated Feature

Incredibles 2

Isle of Dogs


Ralph Breaks the Internet

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

This one felt pretty open, but limited all the way through. The thing that threw me was the fact that they opened up voting to the entire category. They had to watch a minimum number of films, including a certain section that were on their specific list. They basically gave you either category one or category two, and you had to see those at minimum. But it was easy to cheat for those who just wanted to vote for their one choice. And last year, Ferdinand and The Boss Baby got on. So I wasn’t sure what that meant.

This year, you could pretty much narrow the field down to about eight choices. These five, plus Early Man, Smallfoot and The Grinch. Smallfoot got no traction, so you didn’t think that would happen. Early Man is Aardman, and they’re always in contention. And the Grinch made a shit ton of money, which could have gotten it on. But it didn’t. We got arguably the “best” category of the major contenders. Sure, it means two lesser Disney/Pixar films, but a foreign film that’s not from Studio Ghibli made it for the first time ever and we got a cool stop-motion movie and arguably the most interesting non-Disney/Pixar studio animated film in a decade. So I think we did okay, all things considered. And, just saying… I did have this category on my ballot. I’m kind of a big deal. You know.

Currently, we only have two precursors in so far, BFCA and the Globes. And they both went to Into the Spider-Verse. The Annies are tomorrow night, and they generally won’t mean a whole lot, but we’ll listen to them. And then BAFTA will be interesting, to see what they do. But again, we don’t need them to tell where this one is situated leading into the ceremony.


5. Mirai — It’s the only foreign nominee on here, and the least amount of people will have seen it. It’s not getting any votes. Maybe it’ll sneak enough to get fourth, but we’re splitting hairs at that point. No one thinks it’s gonna win and if you had to guess what chances all of the five had at winning, you’d have this fifth. The nomination is the reward with this one.

4. Ralph Breaks the Internet — The fact that it’s Disney will get them votes. Namely from Disney employees. Otherwise, this stands no shot at at win. Of all the precursor categories, only three films made them all. And this is not one of those three. This couldn’t even win the first time, losing to Brave, a lesser Pixar effort. What chance does it have here?

3. Isle of Dogs — Credit to Wes Anderson that he’s at least a third choice this time. Well, that’s probably what he was the last time, too. Still had no shot at winning, which is a shame. This movie is great, and is might be the best film in the category. But it’s not gonna win. It’s got no chance. No one’s gonna vote for this. It only makes a third choice because the other two really have no chance. Some die hards will take this, but it’s not gonna sniff top two.

2. Incredibles 2 — Right now, this is the second choice. Because it has no precursors and Spider-Verse has two. However, BAFTA still has to rule. And if this wins BAFTA, that door is still open. I go back to 2012, when Wreck-It Ralph was a popular choice to win it, and Brave still took down the category. Admittedly, Brave did have BAFTA and the Globe, so there’s that. What about 2014? When Lego Movie was left off and people thought How to Train Your Dragon was gonna win? My point is — if left to their own devices, the older contingent who doesn’t watch these movies might just vote for Pixar on impulse. That’s all I’m saying. This is not out of the question for a win. It’s just not. Even if Spider-Verse wins BAFTA, this still could win. Don’t think it will, which is why it’ll remain in second position even if it wins BAFTA, but this is in it until the very end. Pixar is at the point where they will just get votes because they are assumed to be the best. Why do you think Meryl gets nominated every year? This has a chance

1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — It’s the number one, and the favorite to win. I’m not gonna believe that it will until it wins BAFTA too. Then I’ll feel confident taking it. But until then, I’m considering this a 50/50 between this and Incredibles. I’m telling you, I know this Academy pretty well. This is not a lock yet. If it wins all the precursors, then it’ll be 80%. It’ll never be 100 until they announce it as the winner. That’s just how this category goes. But right now, this is your favorite, and it should continue being that until Oscar night. It should win pretty easily. My only caution is not to view it as automatic. Because I don’t trust them to not just take Pixar on reflex. And neither should you.

– – – – – – – – – –


4 responses

  1. Mirai I agree. It would have a better chance if Animation fans were voting because it is the third movie of a director which has already created two extremely beloved animated movie. Especially Wolf Children his highly acclaimed, so in a way the nomination of Mirai is a not to this. I wouldn’t be surprised if movies by Mamoru Hosoda will become a regular feature in the future.

    I would have Isle of Dog on fourth. For one, I don’t think that at the end of the day, Wes Andersons work is THAT beloved by the academy. It always falls somewhat short of actually collecting awards. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Two, the Critics for this one are a little more mixed than with the other movies, especially once you take the quality of the animation into account. Third, and that’s the killing blow, there is the whole racism controversy surrounding the movie. So…nope, snowball chance in hell. I would have it on fifth if not for it having gotten a little bit more exposure than Mirai.

    Now, Ralph Breaks the internet is complicated. Thing is: The main reason why Brave won over Wreck it Ralph was simply politics, the desire to honour a female animator which was involved in beloved classics released before the Animated Movie Award was even a thing and who would most likely won with her work back in the day, and then ended getting up booted from Brave by Pixar (which since all the stories about Lassiters have become known shouldn’t surprise anyone) – in any case there was a lot of emotion involved in the decision and it IS possible that a lot of voters rued this emotional decision in hindsight, because there were no less than three animated movies which were better than Brave nominated this year. So it is possible that a lot will make an equally emotional decision and vote for Ralph Break the Internet this time around, too. Which makes it at least as a good candidate for the win as The Incredibles II is. (Regarding 2014: It was simply a strong year, leaving off Lego movie was the right call, and between Big Hero 6 and HTTYD 2, Big Hero 6 most like won not because it was by Disney, but because it wasn’t a sequel. The voters are kind of allergic against sequels unless they are the brilliant conclusion to a beloved franchise. And yes, that is me predicting that HTTYD III will be a forerunner next year).

    In any other year, I would have seen a neck to neck fight between Ralph breaks the Internet and The Incredibles II. But there is Into the Spider-verse. By any rights it should win. It being a Superhero movie isn’t really a disadvantage in this particular category – hell, it would already be the third one winning. In the mind of the voters Superheroes are for kids, animation is for kids, so it doesn’t have the same stigma as Superhero movies have in the live action categories. What is an advantage is that you only need to see a trailer to recognize how unique and ground-breaking the animation is. Also, it is still in theatres and has shown to have legs. So…yeah, I also see it as the winner this year. And it deserves it.

    January 31, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    • “I would have Isle of Dog on fourth. For one, I don’t think that at the end of the day, Wes Andersons work is THAT beloved by the academy. It always falls somewhat short of actually collecting awards. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.”

      The Grand Budapest Hotel was Anderson’s last film and it tied with Best Picture winner Birdman for the most Oscar wins at the 87th ceremony. (Yes, Wes Anderson himself didn’t win a statuette and has yet to win a statuette, but given his film’s rather early 2014 release, it’s a miracle it got nominated for so many awards at all.)

      January 31, 2019 at 6:01 pm

      • Point taken. Still, it looks like he has an even worse chance to actually walk away with an award as Nolan.

        January 31, 2019 at 6:17 pm

  2. “I go back to 2012, when Wreck-It Ralph was a popular choice to win it, and Brave still took down the category. Admittedly, Brave did have BAFTA and the Globe, so there’s that. What about 2014?”

    In addition to the whole Brenda Chapman factor (as mentioned by Swanpride), I think another killing blow to the first Wreck-It Ralph’s Oscar chances was its belated U.K. release in early 2013. Brits obviously compose the largest non-U.S. contingent in the Academy, so having their support is always a good thing. How could they have supported a nominee they themselves could not watch on their native soil?

    January 31, 2019 at 5:57 pm

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