The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the first round of qualifying movies for the Animated Feature Film category and the contenders confirm that we have an unexpectedly more competitive race on our hands than originally expected. Well, let’s clarify that.
“Inside Out” is winning this Oscar. It’s a lock. It’s such a lock you can go to the bathroom during this part of the telecast unless you are Pete Docter’s no. 1 fan (and even then you can just rewind the DVR). The Pixar comeback flick is actually a contender for a Best Picture nomination (I think it will happen) and its has a chance to win the Original Screenplay statue as well.
The bigger story is who the other remaining nominees in this particular category will be. First, here’s the list of 16 qualifiers the Academy announced this morning.
“The Boy and the Beast”
“Boy and the World”
“The Good Dinosaur”
“Hotel Transylvania 2”
“Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet”
“The Laws of the Universe – Part 0”
“Moomins on the Riviera”
“The Peanuts Movie”
“Regular Show: The Movie”
“Shaun the Sheep Movie”
“The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water”
“When Marnie Was There”
In theory, “Inside Out” and “Anomalisa” will be locks. There’s a slight possibility the latter might not play with Animation branch but if Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson drama doesn’t get in you’ll hear screams of travesty from Brooklyn to Echo Park and back again. Critically acclaimed Studio Ghibli production “When Marnie Was There” should be the third nominee.
As for the final two slots, buzz is “The Good Dinosaur” is better than you think and with the Pixar branding its hard to see it not getting in (the fact it arrives in theaters at Thanksgiving won’t hurt either). “The Peanuts Movie” has gotten a positive reception (69 on Metacritic, 85% on Rotten Tomatoes so far), but it’s certainly not a guarantee. “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet” doesn’t have the stellar reviews you might need to make the cut, but the multiple styles of animation and its message may sway voters. Aardman’s “Shaun the Sheep Movie” earned stellar reviews and the animation branch always loves to reward stop-motion if it can. No one should discount “Minions” after “Despicable Me 2” earned a nod two years ago. “Home” was a hit, but the reviews were just so weak that even with enough former DWA alumni on the voting committee it feels like a stretch. “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water” probably has too much live action.
So, like many other categories this season, the Animated Feature Film race looks like it might set off some fireworks.
The 88th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 14, 2016, at 5:30 a.m. PT at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.
The 88th Oscars® will be held on Sunday, February 28, 2016.