Thursday, November 5, 2015

Animation Race '15: Animated Oscar Nominee Runner-Ups Announced...

It's that time of year again...

And of course, I've got my predictions...

Which features out of the 16 submitted films are going to land in the 5 slots for Best Animated Feature? Let's take a look at them...

Before I start, this is how I usually predict... This is a 5-slot year, since we've got 16 features in the running. I think 3 out of the 5 slots will easily go to mainstream, big studio pictures. That leaves room for possibly 2 small release/independent features...

So without further ado...

Anomalisa - A critical darling at the film festivals and an adults-only film (whose trailer recently dropped), I think Anomalisa does have a lot of potential to be one of the indies that gets into the race. However, it is getting a very limited release and there's also Studio Ghibli's When Marnie Was There, because I'm thinking only one limited/independent film is getting into this race given the quality of a lot of the big studio features this year. Ghibli is often the favorite, so that might edge this film out... Still, I think Anomalisa has the best chances out of all the other indies. 85% chance

The Boy and the Beast - This Japanese feature from Toho seemed to be pretty well-liked, but you know the Oscars. Only a few indies get the bone, and in this race we have a Ghibli film and Anomalisa. I don't think it's getting in. 20% chance

Boy and the World - A 2013 Brazilian animated feature that GKIDS is distributing. It has a distinctive animation style and whatnot, and it apparently was well-received. However, again, we have Ghibli and Anomalisa this year. Out of all the other indies, this one probably has better chances given GKIDS' success with the Oscars in the past (Secret of Kells, Song of the Sea, Chico & Rita, etc.)... 40% chance

The Good Dinosaur - Perhaps it is premature to call this a shoe-in, but it seems as if Pixar made another powerhouse with this troubled production. A studio can indeed secure two nominations in the same year, too: Disney Animation had two films in 2002 - Lilo & Stitch and Treasure Planet - and both got nominated. DreamWorks secured two slots in 2004 with Shrek 2 and Shark Tale, though to be fair 2004 was a very weak year and the Academy rules at the time shut the mo-cap Polar Express out. DreamWorks, however, secured two nominations in a strong 2011... I think Pixar's got both slots down. I'm confident Good Dinosaur is indeed getting in. 100% chance

Home - It got pretty middling reception, I don't see it getting in. Not with the reception that films like Inside Out, The Peanuts Movie, and Shaun the Sheep Movie got. Even if The Good Dinosaur doesn't get the nom, I kind of doubt this gets in. In a weaker year, it would easily secure a nomination. 40% chance

Hotel Transylvania 2 - The first one wasn't nominated, and this film got the same critical reception. Also, again, too many strong mainstreamers so there's little room for something like this. 20% chance

Inside Out - Pixar. Critical darling. Box office smash. Need I say any more? It's probably going to take home the statue too, that is, if the dinosaur isn't an unexpected dark horse. 100% chance

Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet - A project worked on by multiple animation greats (Roger Allers, Nina Paley, Tomm Moore, Bill Plympton, to name a few), this anthology film didn't get the best of reviews (70% is still good, but...) but has some chances out of most of the indies given the talent behind it, the quality of the feature, and the subject matter. 40% chance

The Laws of the Universe - Part 0 - A sci-fi anime film. Despite some good reviews, I doubt it gets in. 10% chance

Minions - Despite being this year's highest grossing animated film, there are a lot of critically acclaimed mainstream animated films this year. Also, this didn't get the reception that Despicable Me 2 - nominated in a weak year, 2013 - got, so I also don't see this getting in, as it really shouldn't anyway. If it does get nominated, it'll probably be because of Universal's strong pushing and the gross. 20% chance

Moomins on the Riviera - Based on a Finnish comic strip, and it did quite well, but I don't think this one has much of chance. Again, too many strong mainstreamers and a few strong indies that appear to be getting in easily. 10% chance

The Peanuts Movie - It's from one of the big studios, and with strong critical reception (currently at 87% on Rotten Tomatoes) that indicates that the film is indeed faithful to the iconic comic strip, it's pretty much guaranteed to be in the running. 100% chance

Regular Show: The Movie - Regular Show: The Movie was a straight-to-TV/video event, but it was given a brief run in theaters in order to qualify for a nomination. This is normally done with productions made on this level, as Disney had entered the DTV Tinker Bell films in the past by giving them limited "Oscar qualification" runs in select theaters, though they aren't doing just that with the latest entry in that series. Anyways, Regular Show: The Movie? Probably not, even if it is very good. 10% chance

Shaun the Sheep Movie - Aardman's films are often nominated, though there are some years where they have been shut out. Flushed Away came out in a weak year - 2006 - and only three nominees could get in, Arthur Christmas was shut out because the year it debuted in - 2011 - had a lot of strong entrees. (I would've nominated Arthur Christmas over Puss in Boots in 2011, but I digress.) However, Aardman has a history with the Oscars. Aardman's debut feature Chicken Run is one of the reasons why we even have a Best Animated Feature category in the first place, and Wallace & Gromit took home the gold man in 2005... Anyways, Shaun the Sheep Movie is a critical darling despite not being a smash hit at the box office, but I don't think that's going to matter. 2012's The Pirates! Band of Misfits was also a critical smash that didn't soar at the box office, and that got nominated over well-received box office hits like Madagascar 3. It's definitely getting in, I think. 100% chance

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water - Sponge out of Water got better reviews than most of the non-Pixar mainstreamers this year, and scored good-sized numbers at the box office unlike its 2004 predecessor. I don't think that necessarily is the ticket into the race, I suppose in a weaker year it would be a likely candidate. 50% chance

When Marnie Was There - Studio Ghibli, another critical darling, but Anomalisa may be the one to knock them out of this race. Ghibli has an advantage, though: Their track record with the Oscars (Spirited Away won in 2002, other films nominated over time), and their track record in general. Anomalisa is an animation debut from a live-action filmmaker, but again, that film is getting all kinds of praise and is groundbreaking for American feature animation... I think it's going to be a tight race between Ghibli and Kaufman for that fifth, non-mainstream slot. 85% chance


I'm thinking four mainstreamers (The Good Dinosaur, Inside Out, The Peanuts Movie, and Shaun the Sheep) and an indie (it's either going to be Anomalisa or When Marnie Was There) for this year. Who do I think will win out of my choices? Inside Out, easily.

What say you?


  1. I'm so glad it is a 5 nominee year. I didn't think it would be but a few of these I didn't know about. I've seen 10 of these and agree with your analysis. My guess is it will be Inside Out, Good Dinosaur, When Marnie was There, Shaun the Sheep, Peanuts Movie. I think the Indy will go to Marnie because it is the last Ghibli film and it is beautifully animated.

  2. inside out will easily take this and it has a small chance of getting into the best picture race

  3. actually, I think it will be Inside Out, Good Dinosaur, Shaun the Sheep, Anomalisa, AND When Marnie was There. no Peanuts Movie. Its critical reaction isnt as overwhelmingly positive as the ones I mentioned (aside from Good Dinosaur). However, we dont know if Good Dinosaur is good or not. if its ok, Peanuts will definitely get in.

  4. Will you be reviewing The Peanuts Movie at all?

  5. Fox will push Peanuts and it has name recongnition, box office and nostalgia going for it. So it will get in as will the Pixar films (Dinosaur could miss theoretically if it is noticeably worse than Inside Out and people are really sick of Pixar but I do not think this will happen). Annomalisa is the critics darling this year. So that leaves Marnie and Shaun to compete for the last spot. Usually stop-motion is adored by the Academy so I should not count out Shaun but it can be seen as too kiddie and people might feel this is the last change to vote for Ghibli so I say Marnie takes it.

    As a Finn I would like if Moomins would make it but oh well...