Oscars: AFI honor could be key to ‘Zootopia’ winning Best Animated Feature

Zootopia” seemed to be on a clear path to claiming the Oscar for Best Animated Feature but that all changed two weeks ago when “Kubo and the Two Strings” claimed the prize at BAFTA. Since the British kudosfest introduced their category for Animated Feature, it has lined up with the Oscar winner every time except in 2014 when the BAFTA winner, “The LEGO Movie,” was not nominated by the academy.

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That stat might seem to suggest that “Kubo” could actually be the frontrunner for the Oscar. However, there’s another more selective precursor that actually bodes very well for “Zootopia” and it’s the annual top ten list from the American Film Institute (AFI). The Disney film numbers among those single out by this august group.

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Every time that an animated film has been highlighted by the AFI in its list of the year’s best, that movie has gone on to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. This is of special significance since the AFI is not obligated to award an animated film the way BAFTA has to with their race for Best Animated Feature.

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“Zootopia” is the tenth animated feature to make be listed as one of the year’s best by AFI. The nine previous selections, which all ended up winning the Oscar were:

“Shrek” (2001)
“Finding Nemo” (2003)
“The Incredibles” (2004)
“Happy Feet” (2006)
“Ratatouille” (2007)
“WALL-E” (2008)
“Up” (2009)
“Toy Story 3” (2010)
“Inside Out” (2015)

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Among the films that the AFI left off their list in favor of “Zootopia” were eventual Best Picture nominees “Hidden Figures” and “Lion.” Other Oscar nominated films that were passed over included “Kubo,” “Loving,” “Nocturnal Animals,” “Jackie,” “20th Century Women,” “Captain Fantastic,” “Florence Foster Jenkins” and “The Jungle Book.”

With “Zootopia” making this list over a long list of others that have gotten academy attention, it would be a mistake to abandon the film at the Oscars.

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