Oscars mystery solved: How ‘Big Hero 6’ beat ‘Dragon 2’ for Best Animated Feature

That Best Animated Feature win by “Big Hero 6” over “How to Train Your Dragon 2” was the single biggest upset of Oscar night per Gold Derby’s racetrack odds but it should not have been. The snub by the academy of “The Lego Movie,” which still went on to win the Producers Guild and Critics’ Choice Movie Awards for Best Animated Feature, certainly threw a wrench into things. However, the subsequent congregation around “How to Train Your Dragon 2” was statistically unsound.

The vast majority of experts, editors and users predicted “How to Train Your Dragon 2” on the basis of two precursors with spotty track records while ignoring a different pair with staggering accuracy. I knew — as did three Expertsone Editor, three of the Top 24 Users and 20% of all Users — to focus on the BAFTAs and American Cinema Editors nominees, not the winners of the Annie and Golden Globe Awards.

“How to Train Your Dragon 2” held frontrunner status because it swept the Annies and won the Golden Globes. The terrible track record of the Annie Awards was well demonstrated in 2010 when “How to Train Your Dragon” won 10 while “Toy Story 3” was shut out. Not only did “Toy Story 3” go on to win Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, but it was the rare animated film also to be nominated for Best Picture and for its screenplay. And the Golden Globes are decided by fewer than 90 people, none of whom also vote for the Oscars.

However, the academy membership does overlap with those of BAFTA and the industry guilds. BAFTA introduced an animated category in 2006. Like the Oscars, they awarded “Happy Feet” that year (the Annies and Globes went for “Cars”) and have shared winners every year until this one, when BAFTA feted the Oscar-snubbed “The Lego Movie.”

But BAFTA did nominate “Big Hero 6” and maintains a perfect record of nominating the Oscar winner. Despite having nominated the first “How to Train Your Dragon,” the British academy snubbed the sequel in favor of “The Boxtrolls.” That nomination came despite weaker reviews (61 versus 76 on Metacritic) and box office ($14 million versus $42 million in the UK and $108 million versus $619 million worldwide).

No guild has a better track record of predicting the Oscar animated winner than the American Cinema Editors, unsurprising given the historical correlation between the academy’s editing branch and Best Picture. After nominating “Ratatouille” (2007) and awarding “WALL·E” (2008) in the comedy/musical category, ACE introduced an animated category and it has always included the Oscar winner among its nominees. Like at BAFTA, “The Lego Movie” prevailed this year, while “Big Hero 6” and “The Boxtrolls” rounded out the nominees. 

See all my Oscar predictions here: I missed just Original Screenplay and Film Editing going with the frontrunners “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Boyhood” over the winners “Birdman” and “Whiplash” respectively.) 

11 thoughts on “Oscars mystery solved: How ‘Big Hero 6’ beat ‘Dragon 2’ for Best Animated Feature

  1. Its obvious cause the Annie’s and Globes are more in Favor towards DreamWorks for a while now. Both Dragon films and Kung Fu Panda films have had strong support from the Annie’s but have never won Oscars. Lesson here is that you don’t rely on awards circuits when it comes to Animated films.

  2. Honestly, I started to suspect Big Hero 6’s eventual Oscar victory the moment it swept all of its VES nominations. Once it received both Sound Mixing and Sound Editing guilds, I knew that the industry favored it more than HTTYD2.

  3. Yea how is this mystery solved? Whoever wrote this is just stupid.

    and daniel. Globes don’t favor dreamworks. The globes don’t favor dreamworks you idiot. DREAMWORKS NEVER WON A GOLDEN GLOBE UNTIL HTTYD2. Idiot.

    HTTYD2 was better than BH6. BH6 only won because the voters said “my kids liked it” or they ONLY SAW BIG HERO 6.

  4. I submitted the article as “Why ‘Big Hero 6’ Should Have Been the Frontrunner”, which should clear up some of the confusion in the comments here.

  5. Thank u for solveung it but it still gets me mad that they lost the should of fucking got it DreamWorks needs something. 😡😡😔😔

  6. How to Train Your Dragon should have won. Big Hero had a common mystery story, ending with a copycat flying trip over water. Dragon had a heartfelt universal idea of fighting for what is right and the unfortunate reality that sometimes victory cannot come with words alone. It is also a story about forgiveness — for Vulca and Toothless. In addition, the character of Toothless is so lovable. I cannot go with a Marshmallow Man. Musically, Dragon is again a masterpiece. Soundtracks from both I and II and amazing works of art on their own. There was no true consideration here. Even the Leggo movie had more going for it that this ridiculous Disney offering. It has me so angry that I don’t know if I can stomach Disney at all anymore — and I’m proud to say that I am an adult mom of two girls. I will also say that I lost respect for the Academy so many years ago and only tuned in this year because of HTTYD2. When they lost, I cried and turned the farce off. To me, it meant more than just the movie. It meant a lack of recognition for art at all. But, you know, in the end good will triumph, just like in the movie!!!!

  7. Honestly, Big Hero 6 won fair and square. HTTYD 2 had no good story, while BH6 had a better one. This article makes no sense. The only reason it got so much root is for it’s popularity from the first one. Damn, even FROZEN was better than that piece of crap movie.

  8. Misterio? Ya se sabe que los de la academia se mueren por los Disney. La clave? Hacer un muñequito que guste a los niños y con ellos a sus padres ejm, Baymak, Olaf y un largo etc. How to train your dragón 2 le gana en todo: calidad de animación, banda sonora, guión, efectos visuales. Pero así es la academia es raro que premien la calidad. Y los BAFTA otra basura, así que misterio nunca hubo.

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