OSCAR TRACKER: Best Animated Feature Predictions

With all the magnificence that 2011 has already provided us, it is lacking one major addition that the years prior have always had – an excellent Pixar film. Four years in a row a Pixar film has won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature to the point where Oscar prognosticators just assume the category belongs to the powerhouse animation studio. However, with the poor critical reception of Cars 2 it seems like a certainty that the legendary Pixar streak will not continue. It could actually be the first time since the category was created in 2001 that the year’s Pixar entry will not even be nominated.

Perhaps it is inappropriate of me to even spend this much of the conversation even talking about Pixar because there have been numerous films released this year from other animation studios that are quite good and worthy of discussion. Rango, Rio, Kung Fu Panda 2, and Winnie the Pooh have all received positive ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. There are also numerous films upcoming from reliable animation studios that could be strong players in the Oscar race.

Best Animated Feature is one of the rarest categories at the Oscars in that most of the strong contenders have already been released by the year’s midway point. Here are my thoughts on this category so far:

Best Animated Feature Predictions

1) Rango

This film is almost custom-tailored to please the Oscar voting crowd with clear references to classic films and even a scene with a Clint Eastwood doppleganger toting around a golf cart full of replica Oscar statuettes. While not the best reviewed animated film of the year, Rango has star power and should definitely appeal to Academy Award members.

2) Kung Fu Panda 2

If Box Office is to be taken into consideration Kung Fu Panda 2 should definitely be taken seriously. It is the second highest grossing animated film of the year and it also managed to get some appreciation from critics. The original Kung Fu Panda was one of Dreamworks’ best received movies and lost because it faced the Pixar film Wall-E. There may be some within the Academy who think Dreamworks is due for some recognition after their recent string of hits.

3) Arthur Christmas

The animation studio that brought us films like Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Chicken Run has a great reputation with the Academy. This film has a fantastic voice cast including James McAvoy, Bill Nighy, Hugh Laurie, and the eternally brilliant Jim Broadbent. Christmas movies risk becoming cliche, but this one should be the exception.

4) Winnie the Pooh

I only counted 12 mainstream animated film releases this year which means it could fall short of the 16 required to have five nominees. There will likely be a few more cropping up that I missed, but for now I am going to assume we will have another three nominee year. Winnie the Pooh is the best reviewed animated film of the year, so if there are five nominees it seems like a shoe-in.

5) Happy Feet 2

The original Happy Feet was the last non-Pixar film to win this Oscar. That film came out in an admittedly weak year as it faced only Cars and Monster House. However, based on the trailers I have seen so far for this sequel I imagine this will be too silly to beat movies like Rango or Arthur Christmas.

Other contenders could include Puss in Boots or Rio, the former is from a very Oscar-friendly franchise and the latter is the third highest grossing animated film of the year. The Adventures of Tintin would be a probable choice, but it is motion-captured which the Academy has ruled is not technically animation. Perhaps even Cars 2 could sneak in if the Academy’s allegiance to Pixar is strong.

View the Full Animated Feature Predictions

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  • I just wish if they are going to reward DreamWorks, it’s a great one like Dragon last year. But as for now, I put my bet on Rango: solid Box Office number, positively reviewed by critics, more well known because of Depp’s name, and the colors are amazing even it’s not in 3D.

  • I still think ‘Cars 2’ will make it. I can’t put my finger on why, I just think it will.

  • Jose

    You might be right, remember back in ’04 when the godawful Shark Tale somehow got a best animated feature nomination despite better, more deserving movies? (Polar Express, Team America, Spongebob Squarepants Movie). So why can’t one critical misfire from a still respected studio not make it?

  • Well, Cars 2 making it would mean one of the others wouldn’t. All five that Alex has up now do seem like probable choices as well. And there may not even be five nominees.

    But yeah, those are my thoughts exactly as to why it might.

  • Jip

    Rango is the clear choice for me. Kung-Fu Panda 2? Gimme a break. I have no doubt Winnie the Pooh will tug at heart-strings and Happy Feet two will bring all that fun lovin’ penguin joy it did the first time. But Rango, for me, was something new and unique when it comes to main-stream animation. Sorry Pixar, not this year.

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