On Friday (Nov. 11), the academy announced that 27 films qualified for consideration in this year’s Best Animated Feature category. That eclipses the 2014 record of 20 features and is almost double the 16 that contended last year. There could be up to five nominees depending on how they score with the screening committee. All of the major players in the animation field have at least one film in the running.
Will Disney continue its Oscar winning streak and claim Best Animated Feature for the fifth year running? The mouse house has three films in the competition this year: “Moana,” “Zootopia” and, through its Pixar division, “Finding Dory,” the sequel to “Finding Nemo,” the winner of this race in 2003. The studio’s most recent Oscar winners are “Brave” (2012), “Frozen” (2013), “Big Hero 6” (2014), and “Inside Out” (2015).
Sony could be a major player with the raunchy hit “Sausage Party” from Seth Rogen as well as “The Angry Birds Movie.” DreamWorks Animation (with partner 20th Century Fox) competes with both “Kung Fu Panda 3” and “Trolls,” which features music from Justin Timberlake. Illumination and Universal Pictures have the blockbuster “The Secret Life of Pets” and the upcoming “Sing.” Blue Sky/Fox is back with “Ice Age: Collision Course” while Warner Bros. is in the mix with “Storks” and Sony Pictures Classics has “The Red Turtle.”
Among the animation distributors GKids is in the hunt again, having reaped eight bids in seven years, with “April and the Extraordinary World,” “My Life as a Zucchini” and”Miss Hokusai.” Laika, which earned nominations for all three of its previous releases –“Coraline” (2009), “ParaNorman” (2012) and “The Boxtrolls” (2014) — has high hopes for “Kubo and the Two Strings.” Netflix could claim a slot for “The Little Prince.” And Shout is in with a chance for the hand-drawn “Long Way North.”
The race is rounded out by “Bilal,” “Kingsglaive Final Fantasy XV,” “Monkey King: Hero Is Back,” “Mune,” “Mustafa & the Magician,” “Phantom Boy,” “Snowtime!” “25 April” and “Your Name.”
Voting on the nominations for Best Animated Feature is restricted to academy members from any branch who volunteer to be on the screening committee and see at least two-thirds of the eligible films (last year there were 16, which meant they had to watch at least 11). Members score each film from 6 (poor) to 10 (excellent) and only those films with an average rating of at least 7.5 remain as contenders. If only one film merits such a score, it will receive a special award; otherwise, the five highest ranked above 7.5 will be the nominees. The entire academy votes for the winner.
Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. Which five animated features do you think will rate with academy voters? Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how each film is faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before nominations are announced on January 24 at 5:00 am PT/8:00 am ET. Be sure to read our contest rules. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.