Will Netflix’s animated feature ‘I Lost My Body’ find its way into the Oscar race?

In Netflix’s Oscar hopeful for best animated film, “I Lost My Body,” which premieres on the streaming service November 29, a resourceful and determined severed hand escapes a medical lab and ends up fending off rats, dogs, ants, pigeons and other dangers while in pursuit of its rightful owner. Echoes of Oliver Stone‘s 1981 awful horror story “The Hand” resounded in my head initially as I watched this appendage scoot along Parisian streets and flop down an escalator inside of a discarded can of ravioli. But this is a more surreal and imaginative take on such a pursuit, one that is tied to the story of an awkward young man who is desperately trying to make a life for himself while reflecting upon his boyhood with his loving parents in flashback passages that are shown in black and white.

The French-language film is directed by Jeremy Clapin, who co-adapted the screenplay with “Amelie” Oscar nominee Guillaume Laurant that is based on his novel. The title was a surprise recipient of the Critics’ Week Grand Prize this year at Cannes — the first ‘toon to do so. The hand’s adventure, um, handily upstages its human counterpart in the form of an inept pizza delivery boy, Naoufel, who decides to stalk a young woman after his disastrous attempt to fulfill her order.

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The real intrepid hero of this story, however, is the one with five digits as it employs everything from a coat hanger, umbrella and even a cigarette lighter in order to find his human. The animation itself is quite transporting in its bird’s-eye view of the City of Lights. Netflix appears fully invested in getting “I Lost My Body” — which will feature the English-speaking voices of Dev Patel and Alia Shawkat when it premieres on the streaming site &mash; into the Oscar race.

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Foreign cartoon features regularly show up on the Oscar ballot ever since the animated category made its debut in 2001, ranging from 2003’s “The Triplets of Belleville” from France to last year’s “Mirai” from Japan. But the only foreign production to win an Academy Award was 2002’s Hayao Miyazaki‘s “Spirited Away,” which was dubbed into English and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. Otherwise, Pixar, Disney and Dreamworks have dominated the nominations while the two House of Mouse studios have the most wins with a combined total of 12 trophies.

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Right now, the French feature has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 96% positive. A typical glowing response comes from the Los Angeles Times via critic Kenneth Turan: “As inventive a piece of animation as you’re likely to see, the extraordinary ‘I Lost My Body’ is about a hand with a mind of its own, and if that sounds a little crazy, this dark, strange and altogether wonderful feature will make you believe.”

If “I Lost My Body” does make make the cut, it might benefit from the fact that this year’s efforts by Pixar, Disney and DreamWorks — “Toy Story 4,” “Frozen II” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” — are all sequels. Only one sequel — 2010’s “Toy Story 3” — has ever received the honor, mostly because its plaything predecessors came out before the animation category existed. Right now, “Toy Story 4” reigns at No. 1 among Gold Derby’s combined Oscar odds (82/25), followed by “Frozen II” (4/1) and “How to Train Your Dragon” 3 (5/1).  As for “I Lost My Body,” it sits at No. 8 among 32 titles with 28/1 odds and rising. That could change once more viewers see it on the Netflix site on the day after Thanksgiving.

Be sure to make your Oscar nominee predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominees are announced on January 13. And join in the fun debate over the 2020 Academy Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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