Pixar has dominated Best Animated Feature at the Oscars since the category was created in 2001, winning seven times out of nine nominations, including last year’s winner, “Brave.” In those 12 years only one Pixar film has ever failed to earn a nomination in the race: “Cars 2” in 2011.
This year, Pixar competes for a nomination with “Monsters University,” a prequel to the studio’s 2001 hit “Monsters Inc.,” which lost the inaugural Animated Feature Oscar to “Shrek.” Can this film redeem the franchise with the Motion Picture Academy?
But “Monsters” will have to overtake a previous winner in this race: Hayao Miyazaki, the famed Japanese animator whose “Spirited Away” won in 2002. Miyazaki was nominated again in 2005 for “Howl’s Moving Castle,” but lost to “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.” To date, Miyazaki has never had to compete against a Pixar title. This year he is in contention with “The Wind Rises,” which he has announced will be his final film.
Longtime Pixar partner Walt Disney Pictures has a pair of its own films also eligible in this year’s race: the critically panned “Planes” and the upcoming “Frozen,” which is co-directed by previous nominee Chris Buck (“Surf’s Up”). Animation pioneer Disney has never won this race with a non-Pixar film, though last year it seemed to have its best chance with “Wreck-It Ralph.”
Director Chris Sanders earned a previous nomination for “How to Train Your Dragon” and returns with “The Croods.” Chris Wedge was previously in the running with “Ice Age” and now contends with “Epic.”
Also among possible nominees is the blockbuster film “Despicable Me 2.” The first installment of the film was released in 2010 and failed to earn a nomination in this category, 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.
Review the nominees below and make your predictions.