iIt’s Spring time, which means that the major critics are gathering to judge the best feature films of the year. The Oscar’s takes place on February 26, and one of the most well-contested and interesting contests is the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Each year, it’s tremendously stiff competition, with past alumni including Spirited Away, Shrek and Up. This year is no different, with a number of titans battling for the top spot. But which one will claim the elusive golden idol?
Out in front, the clear favourite is Zootopia. This eye-catching animation managed to capture the hearts of Disney fans worldwide, as well as the judges of the Golden Globes. Last week it picked up the award for Best Animated Feature Film, it’s unique story of animals conforming to make commentary on real world stereotypes appealing to critics.
With its worldwide gross of $1 billion, it’s clear the movie has had a global effect, which is due in part to its brilliant animation. The lead characters Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde share over 5 million strands of hair between them, uniquely crafted to create a level of realism never seen before in an animated feature.
The Red Turtle
One of the underdogs on this list, The Red Turtle is a gorgeous fable from the team at Studio Ghibli. A feature film with no dialogue, The Red Turtle chooses to tell its story through visuals alone. A sailor wrecks on a deserted island, but not content with the lush forestry and fauna, attempts to sail home on a bamboo raft. Yet every time he tries to escape, he’s stopped by a giant red turtle.
He forms a tumultuous bond with the animal and it ends up being a wholesome story, akin to Ghibli’s trademark style. The movie has been raved about by critics ever since and even won the coveted Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes film festival. Expect to see it fighting for a nomination among the other great contenders this year.
Kubo and the Two Strings
Another smash hit that came out of left field, Focus Features Kubo and the Two Strings is all but guaranteed to appear in the nominations beside Zootopia. This title was animated by the talented team at Laika, responsible for the wonderfully dark adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, and more recently, the well-received stop-motion triumph, The Boxtrolls.
The film is set in ancient Japan and follows Kubo, a young boy with magical powers and a missing left eye. He’s accompanied by a number of intriguing characters, voiced by a stellar cast including Matthew McConaughey and Ralph Fiennes.
A coming-of-age story with a heartwarming moral, this is a movie that could have easily been missed during a busy year, but should certainly get the recognition it deserves come February 26.
My Life as a Courgette
Yes, you read that correctly. My Life as a Courgette is the clear underdog in this list, but by no means should it be ruled out. 10 years in the making, this French-Swiss animation helmed by Claude Barras first wowed critics at Cannes, and has since picked up three Annie awards and a Golden Globe nomination.
The movie’s tough subject matter of loss and childhood innocence has struck a chord with critics, currently rating 100% fresh at reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Although it hasn’t had a full worldwide release, don’t rule this one out just yet, as it has a good chance in both the Foreign Film and Best Animated Feature categories.
Could Disney execute an awards season double? Busy as ever this year, Disney have managed to sandwich Moana in beside Zootopia as part of their animated effort in 2016. Both have received incredible praise, with Moana being lauded for its portrayal of the Polynesian Pantheon and stunning Oceanic visuals.
With songs from Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda and a stellar cast including Dwayne Johnson and Alan Tudyk, there’s no doubt this aesthetic delight will get a nod at the Academy Awards. Though, it will be interesting seeing Disney competing with themselves for the top spot!
The general consensus in the studio is that Moana will take home the glory, but we shall see!
Of course, this is just a smattering of the fantastic titles up for consideration in the current award season. If you have any suggestions we haven’t considered, feel free to drop us a line on Twitter