As many of you may know, I do this annual piece on the Best Animated Film category for the Oscars every year. Shockingly, this is already the 3rd time I’m doing it (where does the time go?) and as usual, I’ll delve into a bit of the history behind this particular category and of course, my own prediction.
This year’s field is a far more interesting bunch, with last year’s category being dominated by the truly incredible Coco. While that film would be a favorite in pretty much any year, this crop is headlined by a truly excellent Spider-Man adaptation (Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse), two highly anticipated sequels (Incredibles 2 and Ralph Breaks the Internet), the seemingly annual stop-motion original flick (Isle of Dogs) and this year’s foreign film, Mirai, from Studio Chizu of Japan. A well-rounded field with 5 strong movies is never a bad thing for the category, though predicting a winner will likely comes down to some historical trends and perhaps more realistically, how many eyeballs just happened to watch each movie.
Here’s my annual preamble on the Oscars, which prefaces the next part:
“Generally, I only care about results when it comes to award shows, much the same way as when I watch shows. I don’t follow the Oscars for their over-bloated pageantry, self-aggrandizing celebrities who pat each other on the back and give meaningless compliments to other influential people they know, or to watch people on the Internet have meltdowns over “x amount” of diversity or lack thereof. I’m just interested in the movies themselves, the people who put the work into said films, and the statistics behind it. So, here’s a list of the past 10 winners, with studios, to give a recent historical representation of this category (and note, the year is when the movies came out, not the award ceremony date, which is always the following year.)”:
And true to form, here’s the latest list of the past 10 winners:
2017: Coco (Pixar)
2016: Zootopia (Walt Disney Animation Studios)
2015: Inside Out (Pixar)
2014: Big Hero 6 (Walt Disney Animation Studios)
2013: Frozen (Walt Disney Animation Studios)
2012: Brave (Pixar)
2011: Rango (Paramount Pictures)
2010: Toy Story 3 (Pixar)
2009: Up (Pixar)
2008: WALL-E (Pixar)
It’s weird to think WALL-E came out 11 years ago, but it really hits you a bit more as you continue down the list of winners even past the 10 listed here. Incredibles 2, which is in the race this year, had its Oscar-winning predecessor debut back in 2004, and while the category is still young by Oscars standards, it’s rapidly approaching 20 years old. As has been the case throughout this decade, Disney and Pixar have continued to dominate the category, which historically bodes well for the the aformentioned Incredibles sequel and Ralph Breaks the Internet– but counteracting that point is all but one of these films were original franchises, the lone exception being the peerless Toy Story 3 back in 2010.
Historically, these trends continue to bode poorly for Isle of Dogs and Mirai. While both films are actually legitimate competition in this year’s field (unlike last year’s laughable nominations of Ferdinand and The Boss Baby), the last time a foreign film or a stop-motion film won was one and the same year: 2005, where as I’ve mentioned before in these Oscar pieces, was when Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit was the victor. While I’d like to see a bucking of convention, in a strong field this feels unlikely to be the year that bucks the trend, though it would be less of an upset that the theoretical ones that were proposed last year, given 2017 winner Coco’s mortal lock on the prize.
The really interesting case of the bunch is of course, Spiderverse. It’s truly an excellent film (yes, I do hope to release a review sometime) and easily the strongest and most surprising thing to ever come from Sony Animation, a studio best known for stuff like Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs way back when (and unfortunately, The Emoiji Movie from a few years back. Bleh.) This film has done well on the awards circuit, winning the Golden Globe for this category, and in tackling the Oscars, it’s a good bet to try and break a couple of trends working against it: a general lack of superhero films winning big here, the Disney-Pixar hegemony at the top, and Sony’s frankly surprising performance to deliver an incredible adaptation that is frankly unexpected given the genuinely unremarkable track record of films they’ve produced prior to this flick.
So who is my pick? I think in a strong field, originality will win out and Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse is your likely winner, though not a complete lock at the time of writing. Incredibles 2 is my dark horse based on historical trends, and while I’m fond of Ralph, I can’t see it winning against a stacked field, as charming as it is. Even Isle of Dogs and Mirai have a shot, albeit a narrow one- and this should be a fun race to look back on. I can only hope 2019’s crop of animated films proves as entertaining for a race.
Like what you see? Have thoughts on the Oscars? Leave a comment!
Also, check out the movie reviews tab at the top for more in-depth looks at Incredibles 2 and Ralph Breaks the Internet!