Welcome back on this Thanksgiving Eve to the second installment in our Best Animated Feature series!
For those who may not be familiar with how this series works, let me give a brief overview.
At the end of the last three months of this year, I do a monthly ‘check-up’ on Oscar projections made by The Hollywood Reporter’s lead analyst Scott Feinberg. Dubbed as the ‘Feinberg Forecasts’, Feinberg will usually show his predictions for who might win this year’s categories, along with major developments of the week that will sometimes influence his predictions in some way, shape, or form.
Here, I comment on his projections for the category of Best Animated Feature, with said comments also being steered by recent developments in the industry.
Without further ado, let’s look at the current map for November:
General Rundown: Frontrunners/Major Threats
As we have observed, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and The LEGO Movie have both been picking up incredible steam throughout this season, which isn’t surprising given that they are two of the highest-grossing and best-reviewed animated films of the year.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 became the first recipient of the Best Score – Animated Film award at the 5th annual Hollywood Music in Media Awards for John Powell’s work on the film, and later won the Hollywood Animation award at this year’s Hollywood Film Awards. Likewise, The LEGO Movie also bagged a win at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards for it’s theme song “Everything is Awesome” (Best Song – Animated Film). Recently, it won the award for Best Feature Film at the 2014 Children’s BAFTA Awards.
So already that’s a good amount of gold racked up between the two (an amount that’s sure to expand on either side later on).
Big Hero 6 has been steadily winning over the hearts of many a Disney and Marvel fan alike and may come out as the reigning champion of this year’s holiday box office. That said, despite its frontrunner position it still has get past the major obstacle of being deeply engrossed in heavy genre elements (namely, superheroes).
Song of the Sea is still making the rounds as its gleaming praise continues to build up. Tom Moore also continues on his path as one of the most promising new directors in all of animation, to say nothing of the fact that Song of the Sea is the only 2D-animated feature in serious frontrunner contention.
Critically, The Boxtrolls was generally well-received, but not to the extent of LAIKA’s past two films. Similarly, it didn’t earn as much as their previous films, despite both domestic and foreign grosses adding to a total of $105 Million worldwide.
The Book of Life didn’t exactly take a jackhammer to the box office either, but its positive critical reception (82% “Certified Fresh”) should inspire some manner of hope for Reel FX, especially as it’s a huge leap forward after Free Birds. Also, it packs what may be some of the most distinct and gorgeous visuals of any film this year.
The Penguins of Madagascar has just bowed in theaters today. Reviews so far have been mixed to positive. While we won’t know how it does at the box office until well into next week, its been pegged for a respectable $45 Million five-day haul.
My Personal Shortlist
As previously reported, at least 20 films have been submitted for consideration in the Oscars and it didn’t take long for everyone to start putting together shortlists of the five films they want to see nominated.
In this regard, I too had compiled my own shortlist of nominees for Best Animated Feature. In the order listed:
1. How to Train Your Dragon 2
2. The LEGO Movie
3. Big Hero 6
4. The Tale of Princess Kaguya
5. The Book of Life
While How to Train Your Dragon 2 remains my top favorite of 2014, I would be absolutely thrilled should The Lego Movie win the prize (and even vice-verca). They are both absolutely brilliant, year-defining films that play to the highest of their strengths and showcase the best work in their respective genres. And if there is one similarity between them that I can name, it is that they are of a small but growing pool of films that are breaking through the glass and shattering the perceived notion of what an animated film is here in the US and showing what the medium can really, trully be capable of.
Big Hero 6 doesn’t quite hit those magnificent highs, but it still remains a must-see animated film. It’s also what I feel has been a much-needed shift in genre and pace for Disney.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya is a movie that isn’t to be so much watched as experienced. Amazing animation and art direction coupled with masterful storytelling that keeps you captivated throughout its lengthy running time.
Despite bearing the recognizable flaws of a directorial debut, The Book of Life nonetheless marks the arrival of a director with a voice, vision, and style that’s unique to the animation world.
While we won’t know who the five nominees will be until sometime in December, the fact that we had an overall good year for animated films in general makes it fun to hope and even more fun to speculate.
And that does it for our Best Animated Feature projections for November. Check back here next month for our final look at Feinberg‘s projection in the month of December. In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving!
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
The LEGO Movie (Warner Bros.)
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (DreamWorks Animation/20th Century Fox)
Big Hero 6 (Disney)
Song of the Sea (GKIDS)
The Boxtrolls (Focus Features)
The Tale of Princess Kaguya (GKIDS/Studio Ghibli)
Rio 2 (20th Century Fox)
Planes: Fire & Rescue (Disney)
The Book of Life (20th Century Fox)
Peabody & Sherman (DreamWorks Animation/20th Century Fox)
The Penguins of Madagascar (DreamWorks Animation/20th Century Fox)
Henry & Me (Reveal Animation Studios)
The Boy and the World (GKIDS)
The Pirate Fairy (Disney)
When Marnie Was There (Studio Ghibli)
The Nut Job (Open Road Films/ReelD)
Postman Pat: The Movie (Shout! Factory)
Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return (Clarius Entertainment)
What do you think? What’s your personal shortlist of nominees?