With 19 films entered into the Animated Feature race at this year’s Oscars, there can be up to five nominees. However, the same scoring method that saw Best Song reduced to just two nominees two years ago, could limit this playing field as well.
Per Rule 7: To reap an Oscar bid, an animated film must first pass muster with the screening committee.
As part of the ongoing process to expand the number of members who take part in the process, only half of this committee will be drawn from the 400 members of the Animated branch. This also avoids the bloc voting that has besieged the Annie Awards.
Gone is the requirement that a committee member must attend at least 80% of the special Sunday screenings at the Academy’s Beverly Hills HQ. Rather, screeners will be allowed and voting will be done via mail rather than in person.
To take part, a member must watch at least two-thirds of the contenders — i.e., 13 of this year’s 19 entries — and then assign a score to each between 10 (excellent), 8 (good), 7 (fair) and 6 (poor).
Only those films that receive an average score of at least 7.5 are even eligible for nomination. That threshold has been the stumbling block for Best Song in the past. Which, if any of the 19 animated feature entries, is likely to overcome this hurdle?
Pixar has dominated this category since it was created in 2001, winning seven times out of nine nominations, including last year with “Brave.” Indeed, only one Pixar film has ever failed to earn a nomination in the race: “Cars 2” in 2011.
This year, Pixar has “Monsters University,” a prequel to the studio’s 2001 hit “Monsters Inc.,” which lost the inaugural Animated Feature Oscar to “Shrek.”
To prevail, “Monsters U” — which is currently in third place in our predictions — will have to overtake 2002 champ Hayao Miyazaki (“Spirited Away”) who contends with his final film “The Wind Rises.” The famed Japanese animator was nominated in 2005 for “Howl’s Moving Castle,” but lost to “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.” However, there was no Pixar picture in the running in either of those years.
Longtime Pixar partner Walt Disney Pictures has a pair of its own films also eligible in this year’s race: “Planes” — which is currently ranked 10th — and the upcoming “Frozen,” which is co-directed by previous nominee Chris Buck (“Surf’s Up”) and currently sits in second place. The animation pioneer has never won this race with a non-Pixar film, though last year it seemed to have its best chance with “Wreck-It Ralph.”
The blockbuster “Despicable Me 2” is in fourth place. The first installment was snubbed in 2010 but the sequel has far out-earned the original; it’s currently the highest grossing animated film of the year and the fifth highest grossing of all-time at the domestic box office.
Director Chris Sanders earned a bid in 2010 for “How to Train Your Dragon” and returns with “The Croods,” which currently just makes the cut in fifth place.
Gone from our original list are: “Escape From Planet Earth,” “Pinnochio,” “The Snow Queen,” and “Walking with Dinosaurs 3D.”
Additions are five longshots: “The Fake,” “O Apóstolo,” “Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie – Rebellion,” “Rio: 2096: A Story of Love and Fury” and “The Smurfs 2.”
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