Oscars 2019: Best Animated Feature Eligibles
Oscar season is almost upon us, folks. This is our first prep article. Your summer reading list, if you will.
We’ll go over the Foreign Language Film eligibles in a few weeks, but for now, we’ve got the list of submissions for Best Animated Feature. There are 32 of them this year (a record).
I haven’t really noticed a glut of animated films this year, so it’ll be interesting to see what there is to eventually lose to Frozen or Toy Story. They broke the dam on nominating an anime last year, so perhaps another one of those is in store. But the first step is seeing what’s eligible. So that’s what we’re gonna do today.
Here are the 32 eligible films for Best Animated Feature:
The Addams Family
The Angry Birds Movie 2
Another Day of Life
Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles
Children of the Sea
Dilili in Paris
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I Lost My Body
The Last Fiction
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Marona’s Fantastic Tale
Primal – Tales of Savagery
The Secret Life of Pets 2
Spies in Disguise
The Swallows of Kabul
This Magnificent Cake!
Toy Story 4
Upin & Ipin: The Lone Gibbon Kris
Weathering with You
I know what we’re all thinking… no UglyDolls? But it was going to win!
There’s a much smaller percentage of “known” films than there usually is, isn’t there? Also interesting that Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon was not included here, despite what seems to be a December release date here and an international release that’s already happened. Guess that means they’re gonna push it to spring and try for next year? Or did someone mess up and not submit it?
It almost feels like I’m about to waste my time on an article when we know that either Frozen or Toy Story is gonna win. And honestly, if Frozen doesn’t land close to where the first one did (a la Wreck-It Ralph 2), then it’s a foregone conclusion for Toy Story and there’s absolutely zero intrigue whatsoever. But it’s also October and maybe things will change. Plus the goal of this article is to introduce all the movies eligible and see what kind of cool stuff is on there, so we’ll leave the category analysis for another time.
We’ll start by skipping over the obvious “American” stuff that most people will know. Just looking at these titles, you should immediately be able to recognize all but two of these:
- The Addams Family
- The Angry Birds Movie 2
- Frozen II
- How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
- The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
- Missing Link
- The Secret Life of Pets 2
- Spies in Disguise
- Toy Story 4
I thought 11 was a small number, but apparently last year this list only had 10. So we are in line with what we usually get. Seems to just be that we have more eligible films this year. The two you might not know offhand are Klaus, which is out on Netflix next month, and Spies in Disguise, which is out Christmas. Everything else, save Frozen, has already been released and should immediately be recognizable by its title.
Now, let’s now familiarize ourselves with the other 21 films:
Another Day of Life is an international film about a Polish reporter’s journey across war-torn lands.
Away is about a boy and a bird traveling across an island, attempting to get back home.
Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles is about Luis Buñuel making the documentary Las Hurdes.
Children of the Sea is about a girl whose father works at an aquarium who meets two boys raised by dugongs (Raised by Dugongs, by the way, is my band name) who seem to have magical powers.
Dilili in Paris is about a girl in turn-of-the-century France who investigates the kidnapping of young girls by a mysterious group.
Funan is about a mother’s search for her missing son during the Cambodian Genocide.
I Lost My Body is about a boy in love and a hand that escapes from the morgue, looking for the body it came from.
The Last Fiction is about a king who decides he’s gonna kill the Devil. (Which is kinda metal.)
Marona’s Fantastic Tale is kind of an animated version of A Dog’s Purpose. It’s a dog remembering all its masters.
Ne Zha is about a demon boy who is trained to fight demons. Kind of like Chinese Hellboy.
Okko’s Inn is about an orphaned girl living at a countryside inn with her grandmother and who can see ghosts.
Pachamama is about a young boy during the time of the Incas who wants to become a shaman and has to help get a sacred relic back to his village before bad stuff happens.
Primal – Tales of Savagery is a miniseries for Cartoon Network that they seemingly edited together into a feature. It’s a story of the friendship between a human and a dinosaur.
Promare is basically Gundam Firefighters. Firefighters in giant mecha suits putting out fires. That’s it, that’s the story.
Rezo is a documentary about Georgian artist Revaz Gabriadze.
The Swallows of Kabul is a film about two people in love in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
This Magnificent Cake! is an anthology film set in Africa about five different characters. It’s also, it should be pointed out, only 45 minutes long.
The Tower is about a young girl in a Palestinian refugee camp learning about her family’s history.
Upin & Ipin: The Lone Gibbon Kris is based on the longest-running Malaysian TV series and is about two twin brothers stumbling upon a mystical kingdom.
Weathering with You is about a runaway boy who meets a girl that can control the weather.
White Snake is about a drifter who was born to walk alone, going down the only road she’s ever known. (Or a movie based on the tale of the White Snake, about a snake spirit who falls in love with a snake hunter. But personally I prefer my version.)
– – – – –
So that’s everything. Of the 32 nominees, I’ve seen 16 of them:
- Addams Family
- Angry Birds 2
- Another Day of Life
- Dilili in Paris
- How to Train Your Dragon
- Lego Movie 2
- Missing Link
- Ne Zha
- Okko’s Inn
- Secret Life of Pets 2
- Toy Story 4
- Weathering with You
- White Snake
Not bad for a first run-through. Technically I also can watch Funan and The Tower, but it would be without subtitles. I’d prefer to understand what they’re saying ,so I’m gonna wait on those a bit longer. I’ll also wait to discuss exactly what I thought about each of them until the next article.
Of the remaining 16 I haven’t seen, Klaus and I Lost My Body will be on Netflix in the next month. And Frozen and Spies in Disguise will go wide in theaters and be easy enough to see. Which leaves 12 (Away, Buñuel, Children of the Sea, Funan, Last Fiction, Marona, Promare, Rezo, Swallows of Kabul, This Magnificent Cake!, The Tower and Upin & Ipin) I’ll need to figure out. Still, solid for pre-Halloween.
– – – – –
Now, what I always do is look through all the eligibles and figure out which ones have the best chance at getting nominated. I’ll start by reminding you how the new voting system works in this category:
All Academy members are allowed to opt in to voting for this category. All films are made available for streaming at a certain point (they hold back the big theatrical releases until after they come out, but generally, I’d say about 80% of them are made immediately available upon a member opting in, and the rest are made available by mid-December).
Those who opt in must watch 50% of the eligible films in order to be able to vote. Further, members are split into two groups. Group 1 has to watch a specific set 8 movies as part of their 50% and Group 2 has to watch a different set of 8 as part of theirs. So if you watch the 8 you were specifically assigned and then enough more to get you to 50%, you are allowed to cast votes. You’re still free to watch all the eligible films if you want, but you’re not required to watch anything more than the 50% threshold in order to vote.
It must also be pointed out that the films do not need to be streamed to get credit. Members are allowed to click a button next to a film that says “I saw this in theaters/at a screening” and get credit for having seen it.
What this ultimately comes down to is — because voting is open to all Academy members and not just the Animation Branch, by default voting is going to favor the mainstream American releases. Think about it — assume the majority of voters care about the category/are in the branch. They’re not all gonna watch every single eligible film. Only the truly most dutiful members are gonna watch all 32. Most are gonna watch probably about 16-25. But then, open it up to the people who opted in. Are they gonna watch more than the minimum? Do they care about the Chinese films and most of the foreign fare? Doubtful. They’ll have to watch some to vote (assuming they actually do that), but past that, most people are only gonna watch the big stuff they know has a chance at winning.
We also have to consider that some people — because this is totally within the rules — are gonna opt in, claim they’ve seen all the movies they need to see, and then just vote for the one movie or movies they want to vote for. Because say they work for the studio that put out that movie. Or maybe their friend works there and they want their friend’s movie to get nominated. You can do that. You just have to click a button that says, “Yeah, sure, I watched all those movies,” and then vote for whatever the hell you want. Nothing prevents that from happening. I’m not saying this is all stuff that happens on a majority level, but it’s stuff you have to consider can happen, which brings us back to the already-obvious fact that this voting system favors the highest profile stuff. When you think about it’s category it’s, “What’s gonna have the most support? What’s the highest profile stuff?” And then it’s, “What’s the best film? What’s got the artistic value that true animators will value?” That’s the order.
Also of note is that this is only the third year of this new voting system, so there’s not a whole lot of precedent. We only have the two previous categories to look at. In 2017, we knew Coco, The Breadwinner and Loving Vincent would make it on. In those final two open spots, Ferdinand and The Boss Baby got nominated at the expense of both big studio films (Cars 3, Lego Batman) and the smaller, more artistic films that had been getting on in previous years (Girl Without Hands, Mary and the Witch’s Flower). Then last year, we knew Spider-Verse, Isle of Dogs and Incredibles 2 would get on. Then you had two spots, with one assumed to go to Ralph 2, which it did. In the final spot, Mirai ended up getting on over big studio movies Smallfoot and The Grinch. So one year we got ‘lesser’ studio movies and the other we got acclaimed foreign film. Not overly helpful. We need more time for the trends to reveal themselves. For now, we just need to stick with what works: take the gimmes and then use your gut and experience for the rest. I suspect that because there is so little major American studio fare to choose from, this category is gonna look a lot like last year’s.
– – – – –
Okay, let’s start going through the list. I’m gonna go through all 32 in reverse order, starting with the absolute least likely films to be nominated. This first section is what I call the ‘never gonna happen’ list:
32. Upin & Ipin: The Lone Gibbon Kris — It’s Malaysian, it’s based on a show absolutely no one in America knows about, and it looks poorly animated next to what we’re used to with this category. There’s always one or two eligible films that just look cheap, and most people don’t even mention them, let alone consider them as contenders. No chance.
31. Promare — This is a hardcore anime about firefighters in robot suits. They finally loosened themselves up and allowed something not made by Studio Ghibli to get on, and Mirai was about as Ghibli as a non-Ghibli movie could get. Do you really think they’re suddenly just gonna embrace hard anime? Next.
30. The Last Fiction — This would also qualify as hard anime, though not as hard as Promare. Saving the need to repeat myself, it’s not gonna happen.
29. White Snake — Our first of two Chinese films. This one has the more classical plot for western audiences. It has shades of Crouching Tiger at moments, though it also features a lead who turns into a snake, so… not thinking this has any chance whatsoever.
28. Children of the Sea — Last year was filled with a lot of movies like this. Anime that’s more story-based and dramatic. So this has slightly more of a chance than those other two, but also… it’s about boys who were raised by dugongs and have magical powers. Just because they opened the door doesn’t mean they’re letting just anyone through.
27. Ne Zha — The other Chinese contender. This was a monster hit in China, so that’s why I’m putting it this high. But really, the Chinese and American audiences are so different that, absent that, I’d have had this #30 at the highest. Anyone voting for this legitimately for a nomination is either doing so for financial or political reasons and nothing else. This has zero chance in a non-compromised vote.
26. Pachamama — It’s on Netflix. You can watch it. Animation looks nice but it’s kinda slight. There’s not a whole lot here that makes it feel like it’s gonna get votes. It’s the most traditional-looking of the films I’ve discussed so far, which is why it’s going this high. Otherwise I wouldn’t even give it a second glance for consideration, especially now having seen it.
25. Dilili in Paris — Definitely not. Narratively not what they go for at all, and I saw the dubbed version, and the dialogue in that is atrocious. I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and say the original dialogue isn’t that bad, but… if your dub is shitty and that’s them translating it to sound natural in another language… that doesn’t bode well. But this goes so high because it’s directed by Michel Ocelot, who made Tales of the Night. He’s got a distinct visual style. He hasn’t really crossed over at these awards shows, so I don’t put much stock into it going anywhere on his reputation. But I will definitely use his stature to put him above everything else below this on the list.
24. Primal — It’s Genndy Tartakovsky, who did the Hotel Transylvania films. I suspect he has friends within the branch who will throw him some votes. But, do we think they’ll be #1 votes? And also, this is a miniseries (even worse… half a miniseries. Part 2 premieres next year, and I’m guessing will get submitted for next year’s category too) they’ve edited into a feature just to qualify. Also, totally wordless. It’s a caveman and a dinosaur. It looks like an extended sequence from the movie Heavy Metal. And because it’s half a miniseries, it doesn’t end in a particularly satisfying place either. None of this screams to me as something anyone’s going to respond to. Could be wrong, but right now, I’m gonna trust my instincts on this one and say no chance.
23. Angry Birds 2 — This would have been my #32 movie were it not for the fact that it actually got pretty good reviews. 73% on Rotten Tomatoes and generally agreed as a much better movie than the first one. Still don’t think it has a chance in hell, but those reviews have to make you respect it a little bit.
– – – – –
Next we have the batch of “maybe, but don’t count on it” films. This is the part of the list most likely to shift around over the next six weeks. Because there are some in the tier above this that don’t really belong there and some here that will move up, either through me seeing them and seeing something they’d vote for or because they started hitting shortlists. Rule of thumb for this area — assume none of it gets on until something starts hitting the shortlists (Golden Globe, BFCA, Annie Awards in a major category).
22. Rezo — It’s a documentary, and these don’t get nominated here. I’m sure it’s a lovely film, but I’d be really surprised if they went with this. I’ll give it a minor shot because sometimes the artistry of the animation can snag a few votes, but this doesn’t seem like it’ll come close to contention.
21. Another Day of Life — This isn’t their speed at all. It’s well-made, but this is the kind of movie where, if it were half the length and were put in Animated Short, I could see it being shortlisted and having a legitimate shot at a nomination. For this category, I’d be surprised if people even watched it, let alone voted for it. It’s also part live-action (they cut away to people talking like in Reds), which I’m not sure they’ve ever nominated in this category. This is a ‘holy shit’ nominee at best (as in, that’s what you say when you see it get nominated), and I generally don’t waste my time trying to figure out if those are gonna happen and just let them make it on.
20. Klaus — I won’t get to see this for another two weeks or so, but just looking at the trailer alone, 20 feels a bit high for this one’s chances. I’m honestly only doing it because it’s Netflix and theoretically that could mean something in the campaign. But I doubt it. Netflix has released other internationally-made foreign films (Pachamama is a prime example) with the same visual look to them, and they just all feel cheaply made. You get a sense of it in the trailer for this. I’ll need to see if the film is any good before I make any final judgments, but this seems like one where, were it not technically a Netflix movie, I’d have already dismissed it as having no chance whatsoever.
19. This Magnificent Cake! — I’m honestly surprised they submitted this for Feature. Feels like it would have done well as a Short. Would have been a long short, but the animation style looks amazing and is precisely the kind of thing that could do well in that category. Strange choice. Then again, I’ve yet to see it, so I can’t quite fully say one way or the other. But the fact that it’s so short and seemingly has no visibility can’t be helping it. In fairness, it was nominated for Independent Feature at last year’s Annie Awards, so maybe that’s something. (Then again, so was MFKZ, which had no shot last year.) My gut says no and only the animation style is what’s keeping me from totally eliminating it.
18. The Tower — It’s stop-motion, which is always a possibility for them, but this feels like something better served as a short. But I also haven’t seen it yet, so I don’t know. Gut instinct says it’s got no chance, but we’ll reevaluate once I see it.
17. Funan — For the lazy, this could fit in that Persepolis/Waltz with Bashir kind of realm (Bashir was nominated for Foreign Language Film, not Animated Feature, but I did say this is for the lazy). It’s an animated movie about a serious topic. These typically don’t get nominated. The closest you get is The Breadwinner, which gives a certain amount of innocence and hope to a serious subject. (Plus had a pedigree of an animator that co-directed a previous nominee, which is the most important factor there.) This, I’m not sure rates for them. But I’ve yet to see it, so I can’t say for sure. Now, I’ll leave it at ‘could happen, but probably won’t’ and wait and see what happens.
16. Marona’s Fantastic Tale — This feels like something that would have been a shoo-in for Animated Short if it weren’t a feature. A dog remembering its masters, told with this style of animation. This would definitely be nominated for that category. Not sure it’ll appeal to them here, though. So here’s where it goes. High enough to make me consider it, but low enough to where it shouldn’t really be a factor absent some real precursor appearances.
15. Okko’s Inn — They’ve only ever nominated one non-Ghibli anime ever, and it was last year. And there already seems to be the one candidate for the possible “anime” spot, if they’re even gonna open that spot up again. So on that alone, I can’t see this having a real shot at it. It is very likable though (and kinda fits the ‘sort of like Gihbli’ model of things they like better than Weathering with You does, which makes me wonder about it’s chances). So I’ll keep it here for now, which, for me, is the threshold spot of things I would at least look at for potentially being nominated. Generally we don’t get past about eight serious contenders, but because I’m me, I get to about 15 that I potentially consider just to make sure I’m covering all the bases. I don’t see this as being a major contender, but I won’t totally eliminate it just yet.
14. Away — It looks stunning. I don’t know if it’ll appeal to them at all, though. There’s always something like this that comes out that never ends up getting nominated. This will definitely be in the range of the ones I think do have a chance at it, even until the very end. It most closely resembles the kind of movie they would look to nominate in those “arty” kind of years. Though it not having any sort of real pedigree probably will result in it not going anywhere in the end.
13. Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles — I heard about this when it was in theaters, which is leading me to believe it has at least some sort of presence below the typical “no presence whatsoever” for any non-studio animated film. The subject matter doesn’t seem like something that would get nominated, but absent of my seeing it, I can’t say for sure. So this goes among these ones that feel like they could fit the category, but aren’t something I’m gonna take totally seriously just yet.
12. The Swallows of Kabul — It seems well-animated and like the kind of thing that could ultimately appeal to them. In earlier years, when you have the open spots like we do this year, stuff like this could always get on. Now, I don’t know. So I’ll put it here and see what happens when precursors start coming out/I get a chance to actually watch it.
11. I Lost My Body — Netflix is putting it out, plus the trailer makes it seem like the right kind of artistic that appeals to the base of the branch that got stuff like The Red Turtle nominated. I’ll know more once it comes out, but for now, this is in that space where I could see it potentially jumping up into serious contention but is more in that “general contention” range below the big favorites.
– – – – –
One thing I want to get into at this point — I thought I was only gonna mention it briefly below and get into it more in a later article, but instead I went all out because I couldn’t contain my excitement about Oscar season being back — my Rotten Tomatoes rule. I mention it every time this category comes up: films with bad reviews don’t get nominated. Usually I’d just tell you the numbers and expect you to trust me. This time, I’m gonna show you.
Here’s a table. Every film ever nominated for Best Animated Feature, in descending order based on their Rotten Tomatoes score. Highest scores at the top, lowest scores at the bottom. Films in red won the category.
|Film (Year Nominated)||Rotten Tomatoes Score|
|The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2014)||100%|
|Finding Nemo (2003)||99%|
|How to Train Your Dragon (2010)||99%|
|Song of the Sea (2014)||99%|
|Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015)||99%|
|Toy Story 3 (2010)||98%|
|Inside Out (2015)||98%|
|My Life as a Zucchini (2016)||98%|
|Spirited Away (2002)||97%|
|The Incredibles (2004)||97%|
|Ernest & Celestine (2013)||97%|
|Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)||97%|
|Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)||97%|
|Monsters, Inc. (2001)||96%|
|Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)||95%|
|The Breadwinner (2017)||95%|
|The Triplets of Belleville (2003)||94%|
|The Incredibles 2 (2018)||94%|
|Boy and the World (2015)||93%|
|The Red Turtle (2016)||93%|
|Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)||92%|
|How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)||92%|
|The Secret of Kells (2009)||91%|
|The Illusionist (2010)||91%|
|When Marnie Was There (2015)||91%|
|Isle of Dogs (2018)||90%|
|Shrek 2 (2004)||89%|
|Big Hero 6 (2014)||89%|
|Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)||89%|
|The Wind Rises (2013)||88%|
|Howl’s Moving Castle (2005)||87%|
|Kung Fu Panda (2008)||87%|
|Chico & Rita (2011)||87%|
|Wreck-It Ralph (2012)||87%|
|Lilo & Stitch (2002)||86%|
|The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012)||86%|
|The Princess and the Frog (2009)||85%|
|Puss in Boots (2011)||85%|
|Loving Vincent (2017)||85%|
|Corpse Bride (2005)||84%|
|A Cat in Paris (2011)||83%|
|Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)||81%|
|Surf’s Up (2007)||79%|
|Ice Age (2002)||77%|
|The Boxtrolls (2014)||77%|
|Happy Feet (2006)||76%|
|Monster House (2006)||75%|
|Despicable Me 2 (2013)||75%|
|Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001)||74%|
|The Croods (2013)||71%|
|Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)||70%|
|Treasure Planet (2002)||69%|
|The Boss Baby (2017)||52%|
|Brother Bear (2003)||37%|
|Shark Tale (2004)||36%|
Seeing some trends there? Here are the important bullet points:
- Only three films ever have been deemed “Rotten” (less than 60% positive reviews) and been nominated. And two of them were in the first three years of the category.
- Only once more (4 times ever) has a film been below 70% and been nominated! And it was barely below it!
- Only eight total nominees were below 75%! And only three of those happened in this decade. Which means there’s a 6% chance of something below 75% even getting nominated.
And that’s before we even get into wins, where only twice did something below 88% win. All that stuff is for a later article. Plus I’m sure I’ll break all these eligible films down properly with all their scores as we get closer to nominations. But man, look at that. Four times ever under 70%, and only once since 2004.
– – – – –
Here are the 10 remaining films. These are the 10 that you have to consider your major contenders for the nomination at this moment in time. Some of these have to be considered purely because of who put them out, and very likely should be below some of the others on the list above (especially given the rule I just told you about). But right now, it’s foolish to not show respect to the American studio films until things start to fall into place. So here’s what I have for those final ten films:
10. Secret Life of Pets 2 — The first one wasn’t nominated, so that’s a big strike against it. Plus, the reviews aren’t great. 59%. Gotta show it some respect, but honestly, this will for sure fall out of my top ten once I see all the other eligible films. Illumination has only managed a single nomination in its history, and that was for Despicable Me 2 back in 2013. And that was a global phenomenon. This franchise… it doesn’t seem like anyone gives a shit. So I’m putting it here for now, but I don’t expect it to be anywhere close to contention when I start thinking seriously (or at all) about this category.
9. The Addams Family — 42%. That alone should disqualify it. Plus the animation style isn’t generally what they go for, and all-around it didn’t feel like people cared about it all that much. I’ll show it respect because I have to, but this being nominated would buck a lot of trends in this category (none for the better). Honestly, this is gonna go about as far down as I can get away with while still showing it the respect of potentially being nominated as I can. I don’t think this gets on.
8. Spies in Disguise — I don’t quite know what I’m dealing with just yet with this one. I can’t imagine this has any kind of a chance just based on this trailer alone:
But, it’s Fox/Blue Sky, so you have to show it respect until it comes out. But it doesn’t look like something that will get anything more than middling reviews and certainly doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that gets nominated in this category. You’ll know right before it comes out. If this goes anywhere less than 65% on the reviews, you can probably toss it out. 65% and up, you gotta take it somewhat seriously.
Also potentially working against it s the fact that we have a very shortened Oscar season this year. Nominations voting begins January 2nd. So I’m wondering if a movie that comes out on Christmas has a real chance at a category like this when people have to vote on it about ten days later. I can’t imagine they’re gonna release this to stream before it comes out in theaters, which means people have only about ten days to watch it and vote for it. So we’ll see.
7. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part — The first one was thought of as a huge snub. This one got the reviews… 85% Rotten Tomatoes. It didn’t do the box office, and I don’t think people were anything more than lackluster-ly positive with their feelings for it. I assume this is gonna be firmly in that conversation… but it was released so early that people may have forgotten about it. Plus, do we have Lego fatigue after the Batman one and the Ninjago one that weren’t very good? Tough call. Have to show it some respect, but the ship may have sailed on this one. We’ll know by the precursors. I expect a Globe nomination or a BFCA nomination. I don’t expect both, but I think it should slip on one of the two, which will get people thinking this’ll get nominated. If it gets left off both, that’s really gonna make it a tall order for getting on.
6. Abominable — 83%. It’s got the reviews. This feels solidly like the kind of movie they’d sneak on there. I don’t think enough people saw it, so my gut says there’s no way this happens, but Ferdinand completely came out of nowhere, so I don’t dismiss this kind of stuff as easily anymore. My gut says no, but my brains says I’d be stupid to not put it firmly in the 5-8 range. So that’s exactly what I’m gonna do until the data proves otherwise.
5. Weathering with You — This is by no means a sure thing. And if this misses both the Globes and BFCA, there’s no chance. I doubt it misses both. It should be able to hit one for sure, but we’ll see. This is by the guy who did Your Name, which was a huge international hit, and it’s already getting the proper kind of reviews to get it in people’s minds (currently at 100%, but it hasn’t gotten properly reviewed yet). Right now, I’m putting it on to force myself to find a reason to keep it off. Because if there’s any international movie that makes it on, this seems like the one. Will they go anime two years in a row? Dunno. Certainly seems like a good year to do it. It’s not like there’s anything huge fighting for this last spot. Though, having seen it… it’s not exactly the kind of movie they usually go for. Mirai at least felt like a Ghibli movie. This feels like a popular anime (something like a Your Name or even last year’s Fireworks or something like that). It doesn’t strike me as something they’d automatically go for, and if you made me make a final decision right now, I would say my gut tells me this doesn’t feel like something they would nominate. But, it’s early, and there’s a lot left to see about how this lands. So right now, I’m gonna assume that this being a classy foreign film makes it a stronger likelihood than almost anything else to make it on this year and keep it right here. And we’ll see how the next six weeks go.
4. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World — It’s funny. If you just gave me this film in a vacuum and said, “Does this have a chance to be nominated?” I’d have said, “No way. Slim to none.” But having looked through this list… what else are they gonna do? The first two got nominated, and if you remember, the second one almost won. They’ve always really respected this franchise (91% for this one) and, absent something else that really feels like a surefire choice, you almost assume this makes it on muscle memory alone. Plus, in a year as weak as this, I have to consider it a nominee until there’s something that legitimately convinces me it isn’t.
3. Missing Link — You have to show it this kind of respect at this point because it’s Laika. Coraline, ParaNorman, Boxtrolls, Kubo. All nominated in this category. It’s stop-motion and a company they love. Sure, literally no one saw this movie and it got some of the softest reviews of their career (they were good, 89%, but mostly respectful good and not ‘oh my god I loved this movie’ good). I could see a world in which this gets left off. But also… kind of a weak year to start messing around with that possibility. This looks like an empty nomination. It’ll get on, but it has zero chance of competing for the win. Which is kind of what Laika’s been with all their nominations except Kubo anyway.
2. Frozen II — It can’t be #1 just because it hasn’t come out yet and there’s the possibility of it being a monumental disaster. But hey, Wreck-It Ralph 2 was a monumental disaster and that still got nominated in a stronger year than this is shaping up to be. There would need to really be a major problem for them to not put this on. It also kind of has to be as big as the first one for them to vote for it to win, looking ahead for a second. Pixar is generally the automatic vote in this category for them, especially Toy Story, which holds a lot of sentimental sway. I can’t see this as a favorite, though at this point, just looking at what the options are, I’d be shocked if anything other than this or Toy Story won the category.
1. Toy Story 4 — It’s Toy Story. There is zero chance this isn’t nominated, and at this point it has to be considered the prohibitive favorite for the win. The only thing that could take it down is Frozen, but that’s for a win. Nominations-wise, nothing has better odds than this. At this point, given what this year is, Disney or Pixar is going to win this category, and it’s not even close. There is zero competition this year.
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So that’s my story. The most insane part is that this was all just me riffing and not even putting effort into it.
I’ll leave you with how I see the category shaping up at the moment, formatted the way I’d put it on my Nominations Ballot:
Best Animated Feature
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Toy Story 4
Weathering with You
Dark Horse: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Surprise: The Addams Family, I Lost My Body, Klaus, The Secret Life of Pets 2, Spies in Disguise, The Swallows of Kabul
Shocker: Away, Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles, Funan, Okko’s Inn, This Magnificent Cake!, Marona’s Fantastic Tale, The Tower
Don’t bother: Angry Birds 2, Another Day of Life, Children of the Sea, Dilili in Paris, The Last Fiction, Ne Zha, Pachamama, Primal, Promare, Rezo, The Tower, Upin & Ipin: The Lone Gibbon Kris, White Snake
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