Oscars 2020: Best Animated Feature Eligibles

Animated Feature time. There are 27 films eligible this year, down from the record 32 last year. I’m honestly surprised we got that close, since little to no American studio animated fare even came out this year. I’d wager that most people would have trouble recognizing more than about ten of these titles, unless they specifically pay attention to animated film.

In the end, though, there likely won’t be very much intrigue, as this category figures to go the way it goes most years. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look over anything and maybe find a couple of cool movies you didn’t know about.

Here’s the list of 27 eligible films for Best Animated Feature:

Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus
Bombay Rose
Calamity
The Croods: A New Age
Demon Slayer: The Movie: Mugen Train
Dreambuilders
Earwig and the Witch
Kill It and Leave This Town
Lupin III: The First
Mosley
My Favorite War
Nos Ili Zagoyor Ne Takikh (The Nose or Conspiracy of Mavericks)
No. 7 Cherry Lane
On-Gaku: Our Sound
Onward
Over the Moon
Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs
Ride Your Wave
Scoob!
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
Soul
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run
Terra Willy
Trolls World Tour
A Whisker Away
The Willoughbys
Wolfwalkers

I guess that answers my question from last year about what happened to Shaun the Sheep. It was probably for the best, since it got a much easier category to deal with in terms of trying to get a nomination.

I would imagine that most people know what these films are about:

  • The Croods: A New Age
  • Onward
  • Over the Moon
  • Scoob!
  • A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
  • Soul
  • The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run
  • Trolls World Tour
  • The Willoughbys
  • Wolfwalkers

So I won’t waste my time going over them. These are the ‘obvious’ nominees, being Disney/Pixar (Onward, Soul), Aardman (Shaun the Sheep), released by a major American studio (Croods, Scoob, Trolls, SpongeBob) or publicly released on a major streaming platform (Over the Moon, Willoughbys, Wolfwalkers). But, that’s 10 of the 27 eligible films, so we’ll just focus on acquainting everyone with the other 17.

Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus

Bombay Rose

Calamity

Demon Slayer: The Movie: Mugen Train

Dreambuilders

Earwig and the Witch

Kill It and Leave This Town

Lupin III: The First

Mosley

My Favorite War

Nos Ili Zagoyor Ne Takikh (The Nose or Conspiracy of Mavericks)

No. 7 Cherry Lane

On-Gaku: Our Sound

Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs

Ride Your Wave

Terra Willy

A Whisker Away

To put it quickly (and bluntly):

  • Dreambuilders, Lupin III, Mosley, Red Shoes and Terra Willy are all lower grade animation. Well, Lupin III is a legit release, but the CGI look of it feels a lot like those real cheap Z grade animated movies and honestly it fit right in with the rest of these as ‘throwaway’ and did nothing for me.
  • Demon Slayer is the only hardcore anime on the list. It is currently the highest-grossing Japanese film ever, having beaten out Spirited Away. It did nothing for me, but I know some people are super into anime and probably even know the show, so this is something I leave entirely to those people.
  • Earwig and the Witch is from Goro Miyazaki, son of Hayao and director of Tales from Earthsea and From Up on Poppy Hill. So yes, it’s Ghibli. Downside? Entirely CG-animated. Which isn’t great. The movie… it feels like it’s only 2/3 of the way there (kind of like how Onward felt). It’s only 80 minutes and feels like it’s missing parts of the narrative. Still a satisfying experience, just not a fully-cooked one. Which, honestly, might be because of the CG nature of the film. Liked it, though.
  • My Favorite War is one of those mostly-animated (but partially live-action) war memoir kind of movies. I feel like one of these is made and eligible every year. They’re all fine, but very specific as a sub-genre and largely interchangeable for those who don’t really care all that much. It’s fine, but I suspect the audience for this is limited.
  • A Whisker Away and Ride Your Wave are both that half-anime. They’re not hardcore, but fit firmly in that middle realm, where I put stuff like Your Name and Weathering with You. To me, the two poles of Japanese animation are Ghibli (which is the Disney end) and hardcore anime (Demon Slayer and such). These ones fit somewhere in the middle. A Whisker Away is, narratively, closer to a Ghibli movie, though it does fit with things like Your Name. It’s a girl who has a crush on a boy in her class and discovers that she’s able to transform into a local stray cat, which allows her to spend time with him that she wouldn’t be able to otherwise. It looked nice, but I wasn’t a huge fan of it overall. Ride Your Wave, however, I quite liked. Your Name didn’t do it for me despite most people loving it, and I did like Weathering with You. This one is very much in the vein of those films (and from the director of Lu Over the Wall (which was fun) and The Night Is Short, Walk On Girl (which I loved). It’s a story of young romance between a surfing-obsessed 19-year-old girl and a firefighter. It all seems blissful until one day he dies suddenly. Then she discovers that when she sings the song they used to sing together around water, he reappears. And that becomes the film for a while, until she starts to realize that she needs to move on. It’s really nice, and I recommend it for people who loved Your Name and those kind of anime movies with emotion.
  • The Nose or Conspiracy of Mavericks is Russian animation. It looks great. It’s based on the short story/opera “The Nose”. They do a good job of mixing a couple of different animation styles. It feels like something that would’ve done way better as a short. If they managed to release it at about 50 minutes instead of 80, I feel like it would have done well in the Animated Short category. But overall, I like that it’s different, even though there’s very little chance of most people ever seeing it.
  • Similarly, Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus is a Croatian film that features a lot of different styles (including rotoscope!). It’s a sort of noirish, metaphysical thriller that wants to be David Lynch and David Cronenberg and Tarkovsky all at once. It’s solid. Very limited in appeal but worth your time just as a different type of animation than you’re used to seeing (and given how incredibly stale a lot of mainstream animation has become, is a good thing).
  • On-Gaku is part of that subgenre of weird, alternative animation. It’s Japanese, but if it were American it would be something like Beavis and Butt-Head. Or, what’s that other one — My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea. Probably more the former than the latter. It’s short, like 70 minutes, and has this very offbeat and deliberate style of humor. Three guys who start a band together and the whole film is them trying to rock out and avoid a couple of guys from another school who want to fight them (and will probably kick the shit out of them when they do). It’s very amusing. Didn’t fully do it for me, but this will definitely very much appeal to some people, and I think it’s short enough to be given a shot to see if that’s you.
  • Calamity is a French film based on the young days of Calamity Jane. Basically, young girl in the west cuts her hair short, wants to ride horses and wear pants instead of dresses and doesn’t seem to fit in. And we follow her as she gets on all sort of (mis)adventures. I enjoyed it. Most years this would be middle-of-the-pack for me (13-16 of 32), but given how absolutely little there was this year, I thought it was one of the more entertaining things I saw. The animation style is hand-drawn and looked great, especially given the western imagery they used. Probably not as good as I thought and definitely not something that’ll have widespread appeal, but I’m a fan.
  • Bombay Rose is a gorgeous film that should be premiering on Netflix one of these months. Guessing within the next two, given the possibility of a nomination. It’s Indian, and is just one of the most beautiful things you’ll see this year in terms of pure animation. it’s a nice romance set in Bombay and is fully worth your time. And honestly, in a year like this, I’d be surprised if this didn’t make most people’s top 6 or 7 (assuming they saw all 27 of these films).
  • Kill It and Leave This Town is one of the handful of films eligible for this category every year where the animation alone would make it worthy of a nomination but the narrative content just doesn’t feel all the way there. It’s got lofty ambitions for what it’s trying to achieve, but I just didn’t connect with the story the way I wanted to, and at the level to which I did the visual style. I quite liked it, but I’m not sure I’d put it in my personal top five for the year.
  • No. 7 Cherry Lane is a very lovely film. It’s Chinese, which — I’d assumed it was Japanese based on the one image and title, but then I found it it was Chinese and thought, “Oh no.” Because the handful of Chinese animation I’d seen in previous years was not good. The only interesting one I saw was Have a Nice Day, that crime film that had a fun look and tone about it. This, though, allayed my fears immediately. Within three shots, I knew this was a good movie. It’s gorgeously made and feels like an artistic statement, childhood reminiscence (of sorts) and just a director getting out the stuff he wants to tell. Apparently he based it on three short stories of his, but mostly I feel like this was him getting out all the stuff that influenced him. There are three lengthy Simone Signoret film recreations in this. Room at the Top, Casque d’Or and Ship of Fools. Plus there’s homages to other pieces of film, plus there’s all this other crazy stuff like opium fantasies. It feels like this is the director’s love letter to cinema, in a way. The plot is sort of a Room at the Top meets The Graduate. Student hired to tutor a girl in English, starts seeing her while also sort of getting involved with her mother. It’s aggressively weird at times but also ethereally beautiful at others. And in a year like this, where so little actually made me feel invested, both visually and emotionally, this was legitimately one of my favorite animated movies of the year.

– – – – –

In case it wasn’t obvious from the above, I have managed to see all 27 of these films. Which is rare for me for this article. Usually I’m like halfway through, have six or seven more and then need to find like six or seven. But I guess that’s the hidden benefit of everything being two months later.

To give people a concrete list to work from, here’s how I’d rate all 27 in terms of order of preference:

  1. Soul
  2. Wolfwalkers
  3. No. 7 Cherry Lane
  4. Ride Your Wave
  5. Bombay Rose
  6. Earwig and the Witch
  7. Over the Moon
  8. Kill It and Leave This Town
  9. Calamity
  10. Onward
  11. The Willoughbys
  12. Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus
  13. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run
  14. A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
  15. Nos Ili Zagoyor Ne Takikh (The Nose or Conspiracy of Mavericks)
  16. On-Gaku: Our Sound
  17. My Favorite War
  18. The Croods: A New Age
  19. Trolls World Tour
  20. A Whisker Away
  21. Lupin III: The First
  22. Demon Slayer: The Movie: Mugen Train
  23. Dreambuilders
  24. Scoob!
  25. Terra Willy
  26. Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs
  27. Mosley

My personal category would be:

Bombay Rose

No. 7 Cherry Lane

Ride Your Wave

Soul

Wolfwalkers

There were really only about ten films I’d have considered. Soul and Wolfwalkers were the gimmes. Those movies are incredible and are gonna be nominated and are pretty much by consensus the two best animated films of the year. After that — not easy. I did find myself very much liking No. 7 Cherry Lane a lot, so that was a pretty easy #3. Bombay Rose was gorgeously animated, and, all things considered, it felt like a solid choice. And Ride Your Wave, I got emotionally invested in that in a way that I didn’t with Over the Moon. Over the Moon is the one — I know it’ll probably be nominated, so I’d rather put the stuff that I feel isn’t getting the proper play on instead in the hopes of maybe helping one of them get on. That is, if I were actually voting. Over the Moon doesn’t need my help the way the other three do. So that’s the only other one I’d have considered for this list.

In terms of what didn’t make it — I straight up didn’t like Onward past the usual Pixar respect, so that was never gonna happen for me so long as there were five legitimate choices to be had. Calamity I quite liked, but all the other choices were better. And Earwig — I love Ghibli, but this felt like 2/3 of a movie. It ended in a place that would have been like an hour in for most other films and it was CG animated, which was just weird and so unlike Ghibli. It was a very weird experience, even if their ability a a studio made it a better movie than most other places would. I loved Kill it and Leave This Town visually, but that’s the only thing I’d have included it for. The story wasn’t there for me. And then everything else just never stood a chance. It was six films and five spots, and in the end I felt like Over the Moon was the one I left off. Because even though I love Glen Keane and I loved parts of that animation — the middle of that story was just okay for me, and I’d rather put stuff I actively liked all around on instead.

It is also kinda cool that 3/5 of my list is from Asia and the fourth is from Europe.

– – – – –

Now, for the logistics part. This is the part where I abandon any personal feelings about the movies and tell you whether or not they have a chance to be nominated. The recommendation part happened up there. This is the objective part.

The way this category works is: all Academy members get the opportunity to watch these films. In order to vote for the category, a member must have watched at least half the list (So 14 this year. And I suspect they’re gonna continue their recent trend of assigning ‘must watch’ films for each voter outside the branch). And then if you meet the criteria for voting, you can pick your top five. The top five vote-getters become the category. When they started this system in 2017, I was concerned that it would eliminate the cooler, more arthouse fare from getting in and default to bland American studio fare. 2017, we had both Boss Baby and Ferdinand get on. But on the other hand, that year also had Loving Vincent and The Breadwinner. 2018 was one of the few years where both Disney and Pixar made it on at the same time, but on the other hand, Isle of Dogs, Spider-Verse and Mirai were the other three nominees. And last year, Frozen 2 got left off and I Lost My Body (and even Klaus, to an extent) got on. So I think we’re still dictated by quality over everything else in this category, even if higher profile American stuff has a larger shot. They’re still gonna ignore great, smaller stuff by virtue of not having enough people see them to get votes (I think of films like The Girl Without Hands and The Night Is Short Walk On Girl), but on the other hand, in the past decade Chico and Rita, A Cat in Paris, Ernest & Celestine, Boy and the World and My Life as a Zucchini got nominated. So in the end this is actually one of the better categories out there in terms of getting the better stuff on.

In terms of figuring out what’s gonna get nominated, always, always begin with basic logic. You can immediately spot 3-4 nominees just by looking at the list. Almost never does that logic fail, unless you’re talking about Pixar sequels. In those cases, they typically do leave those off (Incredibles 2 and the Toy Story sequels are the only exceptions thus far), even though it’s usually hard to assume they will. I guess Disney sequels are now part of the equation. They’re 1/2 in those, as Frozen 2 missed by Wreck-It Ralph 2 made it. Fortunately we don’t have to worry about that this year, so we’re pretty set on that alone.

And then, if you’re ever unsure, just look at the Rotten Tomatoes scores. Those almost never lie. In the history of this category (and this is its 20th year), only four times ever has a film below 70% been nominated (and three of the four happened in the first four years of the category) and only twice has something below 88% won.

Here’s a table showing all the Rotten Tomatoes scores of everything ever nominated in this category (films in red won):

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%
Up (2009) 98%
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%
Zootopia (2016) 97%
Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) 97%
Coco (2017) 97%
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) 97%
Toy Story 4 (2019) 97%
Monsters, Inc. (2001) 96%
Ratatouille (2007) 96%
Persepolis (2007) 96%
Moana (2016) 96%
I Lost My Body (2019) 96%
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) 95%
Wall-E (2008) 95%
The Breadwinner (2017) 95%
The Triplets of Belleville (2003) 94%
The Incredibles 2 (2018) 94%
Klaus (2019) 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%
Anomalisa (2015) 92%
Coraline (2009) 91%
The Secret of Kells (2009) 91%
The Illusionist (2010) 91%
When Marnie Was There (2015) 91%
Mirai (2018) 91%
Frozen (2013) 90%
Isle of Dogs (2018) 90%
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) 90%
Shrek 2 (2004) 89%
Bolt (2008) 89%
Big Hero 6 (2014) 89%
Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) 89%
Missing Link (2019) 89%
Shrek (2001) 88%
Rango (2011) 88%
ParaNorman (2012) 88%
The Wind Rises (2013) 88%
Howl’s Moving Castle (2005) 87%
Kung Fu Panda (2008) 87%
Chico & Rita (2011) 87%
Frankenweenie (2012) 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%
Brave (2012) 78%
Ice Age (2002) 77%
The Boxtrolls (2014) 77%
Happy Feet (2006) 76%
Cars (2006) 75%
Monster House (2006) 75%
Despicable Me 2 (2013) 75%
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001) 74%
The Croods (2013) 71%
Ferdinand (2017) 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%

So, pretty much, if something is below 80%, it’s unlikely to get on unless it’s a really high profile American studio release. And if it’s below 70%, you can pretty much disregard it entirely unless the reality of the list dictates otherwise. Don’t get too hung up on the numbers, but they are helpful for just backing up what you figure to be the case.

– – – – –

Based on all of that, here’s how I see the list shaking out this year. We’ll begin with the films I see having absolutely no chance of getting nominated:

27. Terra Willy — Low grade animation. There’s always a handful of these every year and they’re all afterthoughts in the category.
26. Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs — This is that movie about fat Snow White that people got pissed about because it seemed like they were body shaming on the poster. That’s the most memorable thing about the movie, because it’s not good and looks cheap.
25. Dreambuilders — Feels like someone saw Inside Out and said, “How can we rip that off for cheap?” And that’s what it is. A cheap ripoff of a small part of Inside Out. Never gonna happen.
24. Mosley — There’s always one of these every year too. Not sure if anyone actually ever sees stuff like this.
23. My Favorite War — These partially animated memoirs never get nominated. There’s been one the past couple of years, and they’re all solid, but they never go anywhere. You need a Persepolis or a Waltz with Bashir to really make any waves. Until I see precursors nominating this, it’s an afterthought in the category.
22. Scoob! — It was garbage to begin with. And even though it is a major studio release, the 47% on Rotten Tomatoes tells me that no one’s ever gonna take this seriously enough for a nomination.
21. Demon Slayer: The Movie: Mugen Train — Never has such a hardcore anime film been nominated. I know it was a major, major hit overseas, but that doesn’t mean much, since American voters by and large just aren’t versed and aren’t used to films like this. They don’t translate over here the way they do other places. There has been only one East Asian animated film nominated that didn’t come from Studio Ghibli and that was Mirai, which felt like it could have been a Ghibli film. You can never go wrong betting against a movie like this in this category. Some people might try to use its success elsewhere to push it higher, but even then it’s hard to have this in the top 15. I don’t see it, and I will continue to not see it until it happens.
20. Lupin III: The First — This was originally grouped in that lower tier, because it feels like lower grade animation, but then I saw it was holding a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. Only 21 reviews, but still. So that made me put it here. Still don’t think it stands any sort of chance, but that at least tells me that some people liked it. It stays here until it gets any sort of precursor traction.
19. Calamity — Animation looks good and the story is solid, but I can’t see this gaining any sort of traction. It’ll need a precursor to be ranked any higher. Until then, disregard it.
18. Nos Ili Zagoyor Ne Takikh (The Nose or Conspiracy of Mavericks) — Too weird for them. They like arty films, but there’s a type. And this is not that.
17. Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus — I could see this getting somewhere if it were 40 minutes and an animated short. Can’t see them going here whatsoever.
16. On-Gaku: Our Sound — There’s a contingent of people who see this who would vote for it. But look historically at what gets nominated. This doesn’t get nominated.
15. A Whisker Away — 93% on reviews, but I can’t see them going here. A constant refrain for me over the years has been: only one Japanese non-Ghibli film has ever been nominated in the category, and that was Minari, which feels just like Ghibli. So something like this, at best it’s Ghibli-lite, and feels like a dozen other movies that were up for this category the past few years that never got anywhere. Until you see it on some precursor lists, don’t bother.
14. Kill It and Leave This Town — Animation is great, but it’s way too weird for them to consider in the Animated Feature category. Short, maybe. Feature, not a chance. So at best this may get some votes, but never enough to actually consider it a contender. Stuff like this has never gotten on, so why assume this and why assume now?
13. No. 7 Cherry Lane — Looks gorgeous, wonderfully weird, but it’s from China, and if Japan can’t get anything on, even with an established film industry, I’m not gonna assume China will until I see this his some precursor lists.
12. Ride Your Wave — 93%, but if Your Name couldn’t get on, I can’t assume this will. Again, wait for a shortlist and then adjust accordingly.
11. The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run — No SpongeBob movie has ever been nominated, and this is the third one. The ratings are good (80% on Rotten Tomatoes), but people see this as TV and won’t take it seriously a nominee. Keep it in the middle tier in terms of your thinking, but there’s no point in guessing this. Just let it get on and surprise you if it’s gonna happen.
10. Trolls World Tour — The first one didn’t get nominated (though it was nominated for Song), and only once has a sequel been nominated when the original was not, and that was Despicable Me 2. And the only reason the first one wasn’t nominated was because 2010 only had three nominees (and was the final year before the category moved to a set five nominees, quite possibly because of that film). So all odds point to this not happening. Technically this does meet the criteria of a nominee, given its financial success and relatively good ratings (71% on Rotten Tomatoes), even though logic says it probably won’t happen. Don’t entirely rule it out, but probably don’t guess it either.

– – – – –

Normally I’d have split some of those into a ‘I doubt it, but possibly’ category, but honestly… I’ve done this too long, and it’s not like I won’t reconsider all of this by the time we get to nominations anyway. Most years there’s only really like eight potential nominees anyway, and you can usually guess three automatic and have a pretty good sense of number four, if not all five.

I went as far as nine as I think stand any sort of chance at a nomination, and starting tomorrow, we’ll see which way

9. Bombay Rose — Looks stunning and I feel like this is the film (a la I Lost My Body) that stands an outside chance at getting on. I’ll need to see it hit the Globes list tomorrow or get some sort of support elsewhere before I really start to consider it. But I feel like this is something the branch could go for in a big way and surprise a lot of people (especially with their propensity to not go double Disney/Pixar most years).

8. Earwig and the Witch — Ghibli usually makes it, but this is clearly lesser Ghibli. CG-animated and not fully there narratively. Maybe reflexively this gets on, since Ghibli’s last four films (Wind Rises, Princess Kaguya, When Marnie Was There and The Red Turtle) all got on. But until I see this hit multiple precursor lists, I’m gonna assume they’ll easily dismiss this one since it’s not up to the usual artistic standards that studio has.

7. A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon — 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s Aardman, who tends to get on. The first Shaun the Sheep movie got on. Arguably this should be one of the final five, but I want to wait and see where precursors go first. Odds are this will hit at least one of the lists and this will make my final category guesses, but it is a sequel and the other stuff is Netflix and American studio fare. I have to give preference to that for now. But make no mistake, unless there’s complete agreement between the Globes, BFCA, BAFTA and the Annies in what the five are and this isn’t in that group, there’s no way this isn’t in your top six, if not top five, come nominations time.

6. The Willoughbys — 91%. It got good reviews. Did anyone take notice? We’ll see when precursor nominations start. I’m iffy on whether I think this gets on. This feels like your classic #6 nominee. The ‘could, but something would have to get left off’ nominee. Doesn’t feel like something they’d nominate, but given that Netflix is behind it, you can’t rule it out until you see absolutely no one supporting it leading up to nominations. There’s some wiggle room this year. So this is definitely in that upper tier of contenders and definitely has a solid path to a nomination. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.

5. Over the Moon — 80%. Good reviews, on Netflix, and Glen Keane is very respected. I’d be surprised if this didn’t make it, honestly. This feels tailor-made for them as a fifth nominee. The Globes should for sure have it on their list, and from then on, it should be one of those nomination mainstays that makes it easy to add. But we’ll see. Could easily not happen, but with two Netflix horses in the race, right now, if I’m putting my money on either, it’s this one. But we’ll see how things go.

4. The Croods: A New Age — 77%. The first Croods was nominated. Like Shaun the Sheep, a sequel, which makes me iffy, but in this stage of the game I am always gonna lean toward American studios with a shit ton of money to spend promoting their film for a nomination. You can point to last year, with Frozen 2 being left off and Klaus and I Lost My Body getting on, but I can also point to Ferdinand and The Boss Baby both being nominated in 2017. You’re never entirely sure what you’re gonna get. So I want to see this start getting left off lists before I for sure say this won’t get on. And then, this not getting on opens a spot for either Shaun the Sheep or The Willoughbys. I could easily see them taking Aardman over this, but this and Willoughbys at the moment is a 50/50 proposition. But the room is there. You just gotta see where the precursors go.

3. Wolfwalkers — 99%. One of the most lauded films of the year and honestly for all intents and purposes the second most likely nominee past Soul. But I keep it third because you have to. You know it’s on and legitimately this could contend for a win (and you’ll hear a lot of people saying it might win, especially if Pixar gets two films on). We’re not at that stage yet, so I’m not even gonna start going there. But you’re a fool if you guess nominations in this category and this isn’t on your list. There’s only one reason I have this third and that’s —

2. Onward — 88%. Pixar. You have to respect Pixar. Do I think Wolfwalkers is 100% a nominee? Yes. Do I think this is 100% a nominee? Absolutely not. This could easily get left off. Only one Pixar original movie in the history of this category was not nominated, and that was The Good Dinosaur. All the other Pixar movies that weren’t nominated were sequels. Cars 2, Monsters University, Finding Dory, Cars 3. It is worth noting that in the Good Dinosaur year, Inside Out was also nominated (and won) that year. And that in the Monsters U year, Disney had Frozen (which won), in the Finding Dory year, Disney had both Zootopia (which won) and Moana, and in the Cars 3 year, Pixar also had Coco. Pixar has never gotten two movies on in the category ever. So that’s a strong reason to think this can and may be left off the final list. That said — this is the first year Pixar had two movies and both were considered to be strong. Good Dinosaur was kind of an ‘ehh’ movie. Cases can be made on both sides for this one. You could say they’re gonna go to their usual behavior of only one Pixar movie or you could say that this movie was good enough to merit inclusion. Either way, at this point, I’m showing Pixar the respect they’ve earned and saying this is the second most likely nominee in the category. Unless the precursors leave this off in favor of Soul en masse, I am not gonna be stupid enough to leave this off my final list unless I am sure that there’s at least a 50% chance it will happen and I know what’s gonna take its place. Right now, it has to go here because you have to respect it. Will it get on? Don’t know. Don’t have the info yet. But you have reason to consider this both a solid choice and an iffy bet at the same time right now. We’ll know more tomorrow morning.

1. Soul — 95%. I don’t think anyone’s gonna disagree here. It’s Pixar in top form. This should be an easy winner. Maybe you have an outside shot on Wolfwalkers with the vote split and/or Pixar fatigue, but I’ve heard that before. Brave and Big Hero 6 (Disney, but still) won this category, and those aren’t nearly the movie that Soul is. So yeah, this is on and you’re just gonna have to be wrong with the rest of us if somehow this gets left off.

– – – – –

If I had to guess right now what I’d guess for the category, here’s what I’d say:

Best Animated Feature

Onward

Over the Moon

Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

Soul

Wolfwalkers

Alternate: The Willoughbys

Dark Horse: The Croods: A New Age

Surprise: Bombay Rose, Earwig and the Witch

Everything else, based on the rankings above, would be considered either a shock or a ‘holy shit’. I really only think there are eight movies in contention (I tossed on Earwig just out of respect for Ghibli, but I honestly don’t think it has the legs), and I feel like Bombay Rose is a legitimate spoiler here. You’ll know from the precursors and then we’ll just go from there.

Golden Globes get announced tomorrow, and that’s one piece of the puzzle, and then we’ll see how the next month shapes up before nominations time comes. I can’t imagine this top tier of nominees will change, but depending on how precursors go, some of these spots may shift around a bit. We have a month to figure it out.

– – – – – – – – – –

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One response

  1. I am ready to bet the Onward won’t make the bet (being considered one of the “lesser” Pixar movies) and something more obscure which could use the exposure will get the spot. Otherwise this is a race between Soul and Wolfwalkers anyway, with Soul being a Pixar film having the better cards, though who knows, enough people might remember that Cartoon Saloon is overdue some recognition.

    February 2, 2021 at 10:56 pm

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