2018 Oscar Circuit: Best Animated Feature

Every year, there is a race at Oscar that is so one-sided that even a layman could tell you the winner weeks out. This year, Animated Feature is that race. Still, there are many nominees that are worth checking out. The race is top heavy, with 3 films standing above the pack. At the same time, two of films came from independent and low-budget animation studios, while the other three come from huge studios. It’s an interesting year in the race, so let’s dive in.

First up, let’s talk about the front-runner. The season has essentially been a coronation for Disney/Pixar’s “Coco,” a film about the afterlife and the holiday Día de Los Muertos. The film is a vibrant telling of one boy’s journey to make music his life, but it is so much more than that. The music is astounding and perfectly captures Latino communities and folktales in its execution. The script is brilliantly written. The characters pop off the screen with beautiful animation. It’s not Pixar’s best film, but it’s not far from it as a complete work of art. “Coco” is deservingly our front-runner, and easily took pole position against a rather weak year for animation in 2017.

The BreadwinnerHowever, if there is to be an upset, “The Breadwinner” is the obvious choice to play spoiler. Easily the next best film of the bunch, “The Breadwinner” tells the story of a young girl living in Afganistan under Taliban rule. While the film has uplifting moments and some adorable characters, there is also violence and sadness sewn into the fabric of the film. “The Breadwinner” also contains stunning animation, which is far from a surprise when GKIDS is involved. The story is moving and the animation is gorgeous. Frankly, the biggest obstacle in the films way is that Disney has a top-tier fighter in the ring. If GKIDS was going up against another studio, “The Breadwinner” would have the goods to be our winner. Pick it as a spoiler, but “Coco” is the sure bet.

While each of those films boasts incredible artwork in their film, “Loving Vincent” is a technological breakthrough for animation. The word-of-mouth biopic follows a courier who is given a letter from Vincent Van Gogh to his brother. On the way, the courier begins to remember his own relationship with Vincent, and the stories from those around him begin to come out. Each person in the town has a story to tell about Vincent Van Gogh. The film’s true triumph is the technical breakthrough it achieves as the first fully painted animated feature. The process took 4 years to animate and utilizes many of Van Gogh’s most influential and famous backgrounds to tell the story of his death. Unfortunately, the narrative is a bit winding, with little grounding it in a straight path. The meandering story is the weakest part of the film, but not enough of a drawback to keep voters away. This is the definition of “the nomination is the win” for a small film with giant aspirations.

Next up is Dreamworks’ “Boss Baby” based on the children’s book of the same name. The film features Alec Baldwin as the voice of a baby that takes on a businessman attitude. The film is far more convoluted than that and involves what is definitely the most insane plot of any nominated film in 2017. However, let’s give credit where its due. The film utilizes multiple types of animation, maneuvering from the standard computer animation style into 2D comic/pop art styles. When it’s funny, it can engender some laughs and plays into Baldwin’s charisma on many occasions. The film is simply good enough in a year that couldn’t bring many animated films to the table. Great job by the PR and Awards team to make the film feel ubiquitous in the awards season despite a March release date.

Last, but not least is Blue Sky’s “Ferdinand,” based on the book by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson. The film is an absolute delight and a hit with audiences. The film grossed $282 million worldwide and continues to be one of the surprise hits of the year. While the story is fairly straightforward, the film benefits from its self-awareness. It’s not necessarily trying anything innovative, but instead performs everything at a high level. It’s a very sweet tale that has no chance of winning. Yet it might be the 2nd most popular movie among general audiences in the group.

All in all, the group of nominees we have this year is not as poor as it was looking for a while. A combination of late-breaking films and independent animation have buoyed this lineup to be a respectable group for the year. With that in mind, let’s get down to brass tacks. The obvious winner here is “Coco,” and it is not close. “Coco” won 32 critics/precursor prizes before dominating the televised and guild awards. It won the Golden Globe, Annie, Critics Choice, BAFTA, PGA and more. “Coco” is the most dominant animated film in the modern era of Oscar and is already engraving its name on the trophy. If you’re looking for a sure thing on Oscar night, bet on “Coco.”

PREDICTION: “Coco”

What do you think? Which Animated Feature will win Oscar, and which is most likely to upset? Let us here in the comments below!

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MOTION PICTURE | DIRECTOR |
LEAD ACTOR | LEAD ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | 
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | ADAPTED SCREENPLAY | ANIMATED FEATURE |
PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND MIXING | SOUND EDITING | VISUAL EFFECTS |
ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG |
FOREIGN LANGUAGE | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE |

ANIMATED SHORT | DOCUMENTARY SHORT | LIVE ACTION SHORT |