One of this year's animated Oscar frontrunners — the stop-motion adventure "Shaun the Sheep Movie" — comes from the same studio that brought us Best Animated Feature champ "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" in 2005. Ten years later "Shaun the Sheep Movie," about a group of sheep coming together to save their farmer, has a great chance of winning an Oscar bookend for Aardman Animations, which isn't baaaaad.
Academy members clearly went gaga for unique animation styles in 2005, as "Wallace & Gromit" beat out fellow stop-motion flick "Corpse Bride" and Japanese fantasy "Howl's Moving Castle" to claim Oscar gold.
Luckily for "Wallace & Gromit," animation dominator Pixar took that year off. But that's not the case this time around, as seven-time Oscar champ Pixar hopes to claim trophy #8.
"Shaun the Sheep Movie" faces steep competition this year from Pixar rivals "Inside Out" and "The Good Dinosaur," as well as box office smash "The Peanuts Movie" and adult-themed "Anomalisa." Which one will win and join the list of Oscar's past Best Animated Feature winners?
According to our 22 Oscar Experts drawn from major media such as Yahoo, USA Today and Entertainment Weekly, "Shaun the Sheep Movie" is currently in fourth place to win the Oscar with 7/1 odds. "Inside Out" continues to lead the derby with odds of 8/5, followed by "Anomalisa" in second place at 9/2 odds and "The Good Dinosaur" in third place with odds of 11/2.
But "Shaun the Sheep Movie" refuses to give up its wool that easily. It scored five nominations this week at the 43rd Annie Awards with key bids for Best Animated Feature, Best Directing, Best Writing, Best Editing and Best Production Design. Will it follow in "Wallace & Gromit's" footsteps by winning the Annie for Best Animated Feature, then go on to claim the Oscar? (Click here for the complete list of Annie nominations.)
Critics so far are loving "Shaun the Sheep Movie." In fact, it has a jaw-dropping 99% at Rotten Tomatoes. Among the critical raves are these:
Joe Morgenstern (Wall Street Journal): "Anyone who doesn't have a grand time watching 'Shaun the Sheep Movie' is suffering from a fractured funny bone that needs to be reset."
Bilge Ebiri (New York Magazine/Vulture): "Plenty of bigger, more grown-up movies could learn a thing or two from its humanity."
Robert W. Butler (Kansas City Star): "Should we consider the 'Shaun the Sheep Movie' an art film? Look at it this way. It's foreign (British). It's subversively funny. And it tells its story without one word of dialogue."
Ben Sachs (Chicago Reader): "The sight gags are so meticulously designed that they often recall Rube Goldberg inventions; much of the fun derives from seeing how the filmmakers pull off their elaborate comic scenarios."
Photo Credit: Lionsgate