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Best Animated Feature: Final Projections (January)

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Welcome to the third and final installment in our Best Animated Feature series!

Over the past two installments and the many articles in-between, we looked at, speculated, and made predictions as to who was going to be the champion of the Oscars and the larger awards season, all based off the projections of The Hollywood Reporter’s leading analyst Scott Feinberg (known as the ‘Feinberg Forcasts’).

But as the weeks passed and the award ceremonies commenced, it became very clear that this wasn’t going to be our typical awards season for animation.

With that in mind, let’s take one final look at what’s happened so far, what Feinberg’s guesses were for Oscar nominees in animation, and then decide for ourselves on who could possibly take home the gold.

The Road So Far

As I’ve mentioned before, this has been a very unusual awards season for animation. Normally there would only be ‘that’ one film that would receive all the attention (and thus, all the awards). But not this time.

Because of the quality of 2014’s offerings and the notable absence of a little company known as Pixar, there has been no shortage of surprises all throughout the season up till now.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 had walked home with a Golden Globe not too long ago. Knowing that Golden Globes tend to be among the most accurate pointers to who might the Oscar gold, it’s a strong possibility that the Golden Globe win might put the film on a steady ride towards a possible Oscar win, if we go by tradition. It also has the second-highest number of Annie Award nominations and has been nominated for a number of awards elsewhere.

The LEGO Movie has lit up critics’ circles everywhere and is the closest thing to ‘that’ one film that everybody expects to dominate. That mindset was turned upside-down and shaken to its core when it was snubbed from the Oscars on Thursday morning, with the exception of being nominated for Best Original Song. That same day however, they won Best Animated Feature at the Critics’ Choice Awards, proving that while their road to the Oscars may be done, they’re not done with awards season just yet.

Big Hero 6 has had some nominations here and there, but no real major wins (they were recently honored by the Navada Film Critics Society as their Best Animated Feature).

The Boxtrolls took a surprising lead with 13 nominations at the Annie Awards and made it on the list of Oscar nominations, so while not a big splash it making some credible headway.

Outside of a nomination at the Golden Globes and five nominations at the Annie Awards, The Book of Life has had the least impact this season. However, a win or two at the Annies might serve to tip the scales just a bit.

Expectation VS. Reality

Now that we’ve briefly gone over what the map looks like at current, let’s take a look at what Feinberg had predicted for his Oscar nominations in animation and then compare them to the nominees announced yesterday.

  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 (DreamWorks Animation)
  • Big Hero 6 (Walt Disney Animation Studios)
  • The Boxtrolls (LAIKA)
  • Song of the Sea (GKIDS/Cartoon Saloon)
  • The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Studio Ghibli)

Now, here’s what Feinberg’s projections were for the nominees:

  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 (DreamWorks Animation)
  • Big Hero 6 (Walt Disney Animation Studios)
  • The Boxtrolls (LAIKA)
  • The LEGO Movie (Warner Bros./LEGO)
  • The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Studio Ghibli)

He also listed Song of the Sea as an alternative, The Book of Life as a potential surprise, and oddly enough he listed Rio 2 as a a film that should have been a contender (think of that what you will).

For the most part, he was on the mark. Specifically he was right about all but one film (The LEGO Movie). He was definitely right about Song of the Sea as an alternative in case one of those films didn’t make it in (The LEGO Movie again). And while The Book of Life definitely had the potential to make it, it too was shut out.

Who Will Win?

Focusing our attention entirely on the actual Oscar nominee lineup, it’s definitely in line with what we’ve been seeing all through the season: endless surprises. With The LEGO Movie out, that leaves big studio hits How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Big Hero 6 to battle stop-motion underdog The Boxtrolls and 2D stalwarts Song of the Sea and The Tale of Princess Kaguya for the Oscar title of Best Animated Feature!

A win for How to Train Your Dragon 2 would confirm Golden Globe predictions and be one of the bigger successes for DreamWorks Animation’s strongest franchises. A win for Big Hero 6 would confirm Disney’s ongoing streak of success with its feature film department and would be a major victory for comic book movies and for fans of said films. A win for The Boxtrolls would confirm that stop-motion as a medium still has some clout in Hollywood and would be a major success for LAIKA. A win for either Song of the Sea or The Tale of Princess Kaguya would be a testament to 2D’s perseverance in an industry that’s largely left the medium behind.

As I’ve said before, this is anyone’s game. It’s all up in the air.

The Future?

In conclusion, this awards season has been quite the whirlwind of unpredictability. It has also been the most fun I’ve ever had paying attention to anything related to the awards circuit.

I wish we could have more awards seasons like this, where a collection of great films meant that an easy choice would be hard to make, and thus the honors are more varied and spread out between each film.

But then, the animation industry is always in a state of flux (now more than ever). And in the coming years, there will be more than one new face to account for. So even if Pixar returns and manages to clinch back a contested throne, who says we won’t have more seasons like this?

Ladies and gentleman, that concludes our Best Animated Feature series! We will continue to update you on Annie Award/Oscar results and given honors, but this post officially ends our coverage of this Awards Season for animation!

Thank you for reading, commenting, and speculating all throughout. It’s been an absolute blast and I hope to do it again someday (bigger and better)!

What do you think? Who should win the Oscar (in your opinion)? Would you want to see us do another series like this again?

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