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The Animated Feature Oscar race is pretty competitive this year. While our #1 prediction, Moana, hasn’t even come out yet, what we’ve seen of it from the trailer and stills and that Emmy, Grammy and Tony winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) is doing original songs for the film (hello, EGOT) is enough to sell us on it as the film to beat. Earlier this year the huge critical and box office success of Zootopia (98% on Rotten Tomatoes and $341M domestic) is more than enough to keep the blockbuster in a very solid second place. That the film took on issues of race and class so directly only lends more support to its security in this race.
Studio Ghibli and Sony Pictures Classics are joining forces on the dialogue-free The Red Turtle and that combination is very strong. Studio Ghibli has hit this category for the last three years and won in 2002 for Spirited Away.
Finding Dory seems like a slam dunk, right? It’s Disney/Pixar, it’s a known commodity (Finding Nemo won the Animated Feature Oscar) and has made an astonishing $471M domestically, making it the 8th highest grossing film of all time and the biggest animated film ever. Yet, somehow, that isn’t enough. Why? Because unless you’re part of the Toy Story trilogy, Pixar sequels have a hard even getting nominated much less wining. Monsters University and Cars 2, both big successes, didn’t get nominated. Interestingly though, Dreamworks has had very good luck getting their animated sequels in; Shrek 2, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Kung Fu Panda 2 all made the cut.
Kubo and the Two Strings looks good and Focus Features and Laika have done well in this category in terms of nominations with The Boxtrolls, ParaNorman and Coraline all getting nominations.
Rounding out our list is April and the Extraordinary World. If there is something that could be a huge upset to something like Finding Dory it’s this. When we consider that the Animated branch is a pretty insular and exclusive group of voters we must acknowledge that April, from GKids, is the kind of film they love. GKids has a fantastic record in this category with recent nominations for Song of the Sea, When Marnie Was There, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, Boy and the World, The Wind Rises, Ernest & Celestine, A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita all being Oscar nominated within the last four years. That scope means many films in our top 5 are vulnerable and looking at the ‘Other Contenders’ list, films like The Girl Without Hands, Miss Hokusai and Phantom Boy can’t be underestimated.
What about Sausage Party, Sing and The Little Prince? Sausage Party could be only the second hard R-rated animated film to be nominated for the Oscar after Anomalisa just this year. Sing could benefit by being an original film and not a sequel. The Little Prince is getting a big push from Netflix but they will have to learn from their poor release strategy of Beasts of No Nation last year to get it in.
Here are the August Oscar predictions for Animated Feature from the Gold Rush Gang:
The Girl Without Hands
Ice Age: Collision Course
Kung Fu Panda 3
The Little Prince
My Life as a Courgette
The Secret Life of Pets
Follow the updated Gold Rush Gang predictions in other Oscar categories here:
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
BEST FILM EDITING
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
BEST SOUND EDITING
BEST SOUND MIXING