Oscars 2019: Another Word on Best Animated Feature

This is becoming a thing I do. Usually they announce the eligibles list for this category and I go over it immediately and then come back once I’ve seen most or all of them and have a better idea of how I think the category’s gonna go.

It’s been a weak year, so I was hoping to get most of the foreign stuff in before I did this. But I knew if I was gonna do it, it was gonna have to be now rather than later, so we’re just gonna go for it and hope the last couple of pieces fall into place. Not that it’ll really matter in the end, but I’d like to find some cool foreign stuff to be rooting for in those last couple of spots rather than the boring American stuff.

Anyway, as a reminder, here are your 32 eligible films:

Abominable
The Addams Family
The Angry Birds Movie 2
Another Day of Life
Away
Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles
Children of the Sea
Dilili in Paris
Frozen II
Funan
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I Lost My Body
Klaus
The Last Fiction
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Marona’s Fantastic Tale
Missing Link
Ne Zha
Okko’s Inn
Pachamama
Primal – Tales of Savagery
Promare

Rezo
The Secret Life of Pets 2
Spies in Disguise
The Swallows of Kabul
This Magnificent Cake!
The Tower
Toy Story 4
Upin & Ipin: The Lone Gibbon Kris
Weathering with You
White Snake

Of the 32, I’m now up to 24 of them. Which feels pretty solid, considering I’m not in a position to have seen all of them by now like I was last year. Though there are three or four of the remaining ones that I do think I’m really gonna like and hope to see in the next month if I can.

The 8 I still need to see are:

Away
Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles
The Last Fiction
Marona’s Fantastic Tale
Rezo
Spies in Disguise
The Swallows of Kabul
This Magnificent Cake!

Buñuel I’m pretty sure I will see within the month. I also really wanna see Away and Swallows of Kabul. Those look really good. And Marona’s Fantastic Tale would also be nice. I could care less about most of the others, though This Magnificent Cake could be okay, given the animation style. Mostly it’s those top three-to-four I’d want to check out.

Of the films I have seen, I can break them down into four distinct tiers:

Did Not Like

The Addams Family
The Angry Birds Movie 2
Ne Zha
Promare
Upin & Ipin: The Lone Gibbon Kris
White Snake

I hated how they handled Addams Family, in terms of both narrative and animation style. So that’s a complete no from me. Angry Birds I hate on principle and the movie was just generic. And the others just weren’t for me. Promare is hardcore anime. I’m not into that, and the Chinese narratives for sure weren’t for me, and Upin and Ipin… no idea what the hell that is.

Did Not Care

Abominable
Children of the Sea
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
The Lego Movie 2: The Last Part
The Secret Life of Pets 2

One’s a straight anime that wasn’t for me and the others I just don’t give a shit about. They’re kids movies that I just leave for the target audience because they didn’t do anything for me. Abominable was basically the same as Smallfoot last year to me, I’ve never really cared outside of the How to Train Your Dragon franchise outside of the first one a little bit, the Lego stuff I’ve never gotten. I didn’t even like the first one. And Illumination in general is not for me. Secret Life of Pets, the first one got a moderate pass, but this second one — whatever.

Decent

Another Day of Life
Dilili in Paris
Funan
Pachamama
Primal
The Tower
Weathering with You

They’re all decently made. Another Day of Life and Funan are ‘serious’ movies with wartime themes. Weathering with You was fine but didn’t blow me away like the reviews made it seem like it would. Primal is just wordless man/dinosaur action, which was cool. Pachamama was bright and colorful. Dilili looked nice, even though the story was slight. The Tower was stop motion and hand-drawn and also kind of fits with that ‘wartime’ theme, but is more of a coming of age story. All the stuff here is in that ‘I liked it well enough, but wouldn’t want to vote for it in a category’ realm.

Liked

Frozen II
I Lost My Body
Klaus
Missing Link
Okko’s Inn
Toy Story 4

Frozen II was a disappointment to me as a sequel and a theatrical Disney movie, but I’d feel fine voting for it if I had to. Toy Story 4 was great. Missing Link is Laika, and I’ll take decent Laika over most other stuff. Okko’s Inn was, to me, what Weathering with You was supposed to be. I really got into it and it felt very Ghibli in its execution. I Lost My Body was nice, though personally I was more on board with the romance portion and not the severed hand portion. (How often does one hear that sentence?) And Klaus was the biggest animated surprise of the year to me so far. I assumed throwaway animation and got a really effective film. I’m happy to have that on my final list if it ends up there.

Those last five would be my category if I were voting today for it. But there are three others I’d like to see before then. Though I suspect three of the five would still be the same regardless. Mostly it’s those Klaus and Okko’s Inn spots that would theoretically be up for grabs should I see something I like more.

The vote for me is gonna be Toy Story 4 unless somehow one of those other films blows me away, which I’m not expecting (and usually I can tell if something is leaning that way).

– – – – –

Now for the objective portion of the program… let’s get into how I’m seeing these nominations shaping up. I suspect it’s almost exactly how I saw them last time I went over this (not that I remember it, but I don’t feel like too much has changed there, so I imagine what I’m about to say will be the same as last time).

Based on what I’ve seen and knowing this category, I am very confident in saying that these films will not be nominated in this category:

The Angry Birds Movie 2
Another Day of Life
Children of the Sea
The Last Fiction
Pachamama
Promare
Rezo
Upin & Ipin: The Lone Gibbon Kris
White Snake

This next batch I am not necessarily totally ruling out, but they seem very unlikely to make it on. They all have various things going for and against them (lot of money made, bad reviews, could maybe find an audience), but I think we’d all be shocked if they made it:

The Addams Family
Dilili in Paris
Funan
Marona’s Fantastic Tale
Ne Zha
Primal – Tales of Savagery
This Magnificent Cake!
The Tower

That’s 17 right off the top. Leaving us with 15. But I can still eliminate a bunch of the 15 if I wanted to. So I’ll split this ‘upper’ tier into two categories. The first is films that either I haven’t seen yet or haven’t come out yet that feel unlikely to make it, even if theoretically they have a better than zero chance, and stuff that just doesn’t feel like a nominee (which is based on quality of film and experience in my having done this as long as I have):

Away
Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Okko’s Inn
The Secret Life of Pets 2
Spies in Disguise
The Swallows of Kabul

Which leaves me with a top 8 that feels like the same 8 films I’d have told you a month ago were the top contenders:

Abominable
Frozen II
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I Lost My Body
Klaus
Missing Link
Toy Story 4
Weathering with You

I said before that I have zero faith with Lego 2 and Pets 2 when their first entries didn’t make it on. I can’t see them suddenly warming up to those franchises with no real buzz about them.

I fully expect both Toy Story and Frozen to make it on, especially given the lack of other choices. Laika also always makes it on, so I see no reason for them to leave Missing Link off.

That leaves the same two spots we were always looking at. Each remaining film has both its positives and negatives: Abominable has the reviews and feels like it could be an empty spot. That said, do people really even know what it is? Do voters care? I don’t know. But Ferdinand somehow made it on, and Dreamworks looks to likely be getting on already for How to Train Your Dragon. I don’t know how or if voters bother with that sort of thing. How to Train Your Dragon I suspect should make it on. The first two did, though that third one came out in February, no one really seemed to care. Grosses and reviews were in line with a third film in a franchise. Conventional wisdom says a third film like this wouldn’t be nominated, but at this point I see nothing else that demands a spot more than this. So honestly this is probably fourth choice until precursors prove otherwise (though I’m sure they’re gonna prove that it’s gotta be put on until they leave it off).

I Lost My Body is very nice, but might be too niche and arty for them. Feels like a really tall order unless I see this on at least two major precursor lists. If not, it’ll be the trailer in this top tier for that final spot. I see bigger profiles for everything else in contention.

Klaus was a big surprise for me, and the reviews were really solid. That said… it’s Netflix. Not sure if that matters. And also, not sure if the voting body is gonna bother watching this or even care about voting for it. My gut says until I start seeing it on precursor lists, it’s a dark horse candidate at best.

And Weathering with You — it’s one of those deals where I have to see that they’re warming to it before I assume it’s gonna make it. Right now, it feels like it’s battling Abominable for that fifth spot (unless somehow Spies in Disguise bursts onto the scene. Which, based on the trailers, I am not expecting it to do). They didn’t give a shit about Your Name, but Mirai made it on. So we’ll see if they really like it. My gut says it won’t make it. But that’s before precursors. If I see it on lists, then of course I have to pay attention to that.

So yeah, best guess is your final category will be:

Frozen II
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Missing Link
Toy Story 4
Weathering with You

Alternate: Abominable

Dark Horse: Klaus

Don’t Rule Out: I Lost My Body

And the rest are complete stunners, shockers, don’t bothers and what have you. Depending on the precursors, I may swap Weathering with You for one of those alternates.

That’s where I’m at. I expect this to look almost exactly the same as the list I posted a month ago or whenever it was. Now all we’re waiting on is Spies in Disguise, which should change nothing. So really, it’s precursor lists. All of which are flawed in some way. The Annie list is out but pretty much sticks to, the Globes will be out next week and BFCA will announce soon as well. And then BAFTA if we need it will also announce. Based on what goes there, you’ll know what’s likely to make it and what’s not. I can’t imagine a ‘big’ movie will miss all those lists and still be nominated. It’s all pretty standard and you know you’re set up for a good year in guessing when you’ve got 4 in the bag before the precursor lists come out.

That’s the state of Animated Feature as I see it. It’s all Oscars here as I shift gears. It’s December guys. The random articles are coming at you, fast and furious.

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One response

  1. “They didn’t give a shit about Your Name, but Mirai made it on. So we’ll see if they really like it.”

    ===
    The Academy didn’t give a shit about Your Name. because distributor Funimation fucked up its distribution plan by waiting until April of the following year to give it a decent N. American release, beyond the obligatory week-long LA County screenings for Oscar eligibility. (I remain convinced that the timing of that theatrical run helped get Your Name. that LA Film Critics Association win.) I attended a screening in April and I actually heard some people afterwards asking if it’ll be up for *next year’s* Oscars, not knowing that it already blew its chance.

    GKIDS, on the other hand, knows how to play the Oscar game, though they have their limitations (i.e., they get an indie/foreign release a nomination, not much else). They chose to devote their resources to promoting Mirai and didn’t spare anything for Night Is Short… because Mirai’s a family drama, and we all know how the Academy finds more comfort in those. (1979 and 1980, anyone?)

    December 4, 2019 at 3:09 pm

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