If Gold Derby’s current Oscar odds hold up, Walt Disney Pictures could match its own record in the Best Animated Feature race with three of their films nominated in the category. The first time they achieved this feat was in 2012 when Oscar winner “Brave,” “Wreck-It Ralph” and “Frankenweenie” were all nominated. As it stands, “Zootopia” is the odds-on favorite to win this category with leading odds of 17/10, while “Moana” ranks third at 5/1 odds and “Finding Dory” is fifth with 10/1 odds. Yet beware, despite their status in our combined rankings, each of the Disney films comes with its own vulnerability to a branch that is known to throw curve balls into the Oscar competition.
For the frontrunner “Zootopia,” release date could play a factor that keeps it from a nomination. While the film has already reeled in a host of accolades, including prestigious Best Animated Feature wins at the Critics’ Choice Awards and New York Film Critics Circle and a leading 11 nominations with the Annie Awards, its March 4 release date leaves it vulnerable to being left behind. In 2014, “The Lego Movie” was released only a month sooner, February 7, and also won Best Animated Feature with Critics’ Choice and NYFCC, but still missed out on the Oscar nomination it was a favorite for.
“Finding Dory” will have to defy Pixar’s history of coming up short when it comes to sequels if it’s to remain in the race. In the 15 years of the Animated Feature Film category, Pixar has only missed out on a nomination three times, two of which were for a sequel (“Cars 2” in 2011) or a prequel (“Monsters University” in 2013). In 2010, Pixar earned its only nomination (and win) for a sequel with “Toy Story 3,” but it’s worth noting that the branch likely saw it as an opportunity to award a franchise that included “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2,” which came out before the award was given.
The third Pixar film to miss an Oscar nomination was last year’s “The Good Dinosaur,” which serves as a good comparison to the vulnerability of “Moana.” Last year Pixar had two films contending in the race, “The Good Dinosaur” and the eventual winner “Inside Out.” In the end, it’s likely that the branch was only willing to give the studio one nomination and simply liked “Inside Out” better. That could spell doom for “Moana,” which like “The Good Dinosaur” is a November release and the last of Disney’s three films to be released this year.
“Moana” is also a strong contender in the Best Original Song category for “How Far I’ll Go,” but whether that helps (or hurts) the film’s chance in the Animated Feature race is debatable. When “The Lego Movie” was snubbed for Best Animated Feature in 2014, its song “Everything Is Awesome” still managed an expected nomination.
Aside from contending with one another, the three Disney films are facing stiff competition from a field of films from other studios. Laika, a studio that has earned a nomination for all three of its previous films, is second in our odds (9/2) with “Kubo and the Two Strings,” which is also still in the running for Best Visual Effects. And in fourth place is the Wild Bunch and Studio Ghibli co-production “The Red Turtle” with 9/1 odds.
Then there’s the Netflix feature “The Little Prince” and the Swiss film “My Life as a Zucchini,” both tied for sixth place with 40/1 odds. The latter was recently announced as one of the nine finalists in the Foreign Language Film field. Its popularity with that committee boosts its profile with an animation branch that has nominated two foreign language films in each of the last three years, another precedent working against Disney’s hopes at taking up three Oscar slots.
Be sure to make your Oscar predictions 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.