Will Brad Bird fly as the first animated feature director to win an Oscar three times with ‘Incredibles 2’?

Let it be known that Brad Bird, the first director ever to win the animated feature category twice with 2004’s “The Incredibles” and 2007’s “Ratatouille,” could become the first helmer to win thrice, thanks to his summer superhero smash, “Incredibles 2.”

In the 17 years since the Academy Awards added a category devoted to animated features, the honor has gone to just one sequel,  2010’s “Toy Story 3.” Its Pixar predecessors, 1995’s “Toy Story” and 1999’s “Toy Story 2” missed out on having that opportunity.

Among the sequels that did make the cut but went home trophy-less are 2004’s “Shrek 2,” 2011’s “Kung Fu Panda 2,” 2013’s “Despicable Me 2” (whose 2010 original was not nominated) and 2014’s “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” If you recall, “Dragon 2” from DreamWorks was considered the front-runner that year, but Disney’s  cuddly “Big Hero 6” sneaked in there somehow.

But this year’s crop of cartoon competitors might see two Disney-based spin-offs going head to head whose original films also made the cut: Pixar’s summer smash “The Incredibles 2” and video-game adventure “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” the follow-up to  Walt Disney Animation Studios’  “Wreck-It Ralph” from 2012 that opens November 21.

In fact, the only directors who won twice have worked for Pixar. Besides Bird, there are Pete Docter (2009’s “Up,” 2015’s “Inside Out”), Andrew Stanton  (2003’s “Finding Nemo,” 2008’s “WALL-E”) and Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3,” last year’s “Coco”).

But Disney’s Rich Moore, who directed both “Ralph” films and was part of the trio behind 2016’s winning “Zootopia,” could break up that Pixar cabal by becoming the first Disney denizen to take the statuette twice. Right now, the animation category doesn’t have a lot of competition besides “Ralph” and “Incredibles.” If it boils down to a three-title race with Wes Anderson’s much-praised, stop-motion spring release, “Isle of Dogs” as the spoiler – especially if voters are sequel-averse — the heat will definitely be on in the category.

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