Could artsy ‘Tale of Princess Kaguya’ take down juggernaut ‘Lego Movie’ at Oscars?

It might be time to update your Oscar predictions for Best Animated Feature (click here to do so). Since we opened our predictions, the critical and box office smash “The Lego Movie” has been the presumed favorite and currently gets overwhelming odds to win, but on October 17, a new indie challenger emerged with stellar reviews: “The Tale of Princess Kaguya.” Can art-house David take down blockbuster Goliath?

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The film has already moved up in our experts’ predictions. Two weeks ago, they collectively ranked it seventh with 100/1 odds, but now it’s up to the sixth place with 25/1 odds. It has shown similar growth in our editors’ predictions; those odds include my own predictions, which I edited to include “Kaguya” in recent days.

Our users rank the film sixth with 50/1 odds, but those odds have been static over the past two weeks, and only 10 users out of more than 1,300 Oscar predictors currently think it will win. Should it rank higher? By making or editing your predictions you can contribute to changing our overall odds, which are followed closely by Hollywood execs and stars. The earlier you predict an underdog challenger, the more points you’ll earn if you’re right; a bet for 25/1 underdog “Kaguya” would pay out much more handsomely than for 17/10 frontrunner “The Lego Movie.” But remember, you can keep changing your predictions right up until the day of Oscar nominations, so no need to feel locked into your selections.

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Contest prize for best predictions: $1,000; click here to meet Tim Kressman, who won our competition last year. And if you’re one of our best predictors, next year you’ll be featured among our elite Top 24 Users, who compete against our Experts and Editors (see their current predictions to the left).

“Kaguya,” a traditionally animated fairy tale about a girl who magically appears in a bamboo forest and grows up to be a princess, has an average rating of 90 on MetaCritic and 100% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.

The film is distributed by the indie company GKIDS, which has made a name for itself by ambushing the big studios at the Oscars, earning Animated Feature nominations for lesser-known art-house films like “The Secret of Kells,” “A Cat in Paris,” “Chico and Rita,” and “Ernest and Celestine.” “Kaguya” was also produced by Studio Ghibli, which has its own impressive Oscar track record, earning nominations for “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “The Wind Rises,” and winning for “Spirited Away,” all directed by world-renowned animator Hayao Miyazaki, whom the academy recently announced will receive an honorary Oscar this year for his body of work.

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The win for “Spirited” could indicate a possible path to victory for “Kaguya,” which is directed by Isao Takahata, who co-founded Studio Ghibli with Miyazaki. Like “Spirited Away,” it’s a traditionally animated film that faces blockbuster competition (“Spirited” was up against “Lilo & Stitch” and “Ice Age”). And just like the previous contest, there is no film from Oscar-dominating Pixar in the running this year, leaving the door wide open for a surprise.

Our forum posters are currently debating whether “Kaguya” can pull off an upset victory. Read some of their comments below, then click here to join the conversation:

ibbster: “I really think it’ll sweep the Animated categories among the major critics and possibly force the hands of groups like BFCA and HFPA – which will make it harder to deny it the Oscar over something that came out as long ago as [‘The Lego Movie’] and a sequel that underperformed financially like [‘How to Train Your Dragon 2‘].”

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KyleBailey: “I still think ‘Lego’ has an advantage that it is different in style and that it’s so much smarter than it needs to be, plus voters will love all the pop culture references … A foreign animated movie hasn’t won since ‘Spirited Away,’ unless you count ‘Wallace and Gromit’ as a British film.”

Espeon: “The academy has been liking animated films with female leads in them lately (with ‘Brave‘ & ‘Frozen‘ being the last two winners). Studio Ghibli also has a track record with the academy with 3 nominations and 1 win (‘Spirited Away’) so it’s possible that this can be a contender.”

ETPhoneHome: “I have been saying for quite some time, that this is a big dark horse in the animated race. I’m glad that I’m finally getting some company in predicting it for a nomination! … I think that we haven’t seen the winner of this race yet, it will be ‘Princess Kaguya’ or ‘Big Hero 6.'”

Tyler The Awesome Guy: “This is, at least in my opinion, the most interesting and greatest Animated Feature race in history. We have four great contenders already: ‘The LEGO Movie,’ ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2,’ ‘The Boxtrolls‘ and ‘The Tale of Princess Kaguya,’ and from what I have heard about ‘Big Hero 6,’ we will soon have five … Ironic how the year Pixar decided NOT to compete was the greatest year ever.”

RBBrittain: “Also, look at the Governors Awards:  Hayao Miyazaki is getting one of those this year … with this year’s weaker field there’s a good chance the Academy could use ‘Kaguya’ to honor Ghibli’s other two founders, Isao Takahata (director) & Toshio Suzuki (producer, didn’t share in Miyazaki’s noms till [‘The Wind Rises’]).”

Click here to join our fun forum chat.

What do you think of “Princes Kaguya’s” chances? Make your predictions below, or click here to enter your predictions in all of Oscar’s top categories.

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