Oscars’ Animation Race: Will Pixar Be Left Out This Year?

Oscars Animation Race

'Monsters University' risks shut-out in wide-open year

Minions, monsters and snowmen, oh my!

When the Academy expanded its best picture race to 10 possible slots in 2009, some pundits wondered whether it was time to retire the animated feature category. Within the first two years of the new rules, Pixar’s “Up” and “Toy Story 3” found their way into the grand prize competition.

And then comes a year like 2013, where no toons are being touted for the top category.

Although the year’s top animated pics still represent a massive share of the global box office (Illumination’s “Despicable Me 2,” Pixar’s “Monsters University” and DreamWorks Animation’s “The Croods” have each earned more than half a billion dollars), the critics were fairly mixed — so much so that not a single toon has cracked the year’s 100 best-received films list on reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. (Some, like Disney’s “Frozen,” have yet to open, while others, including universally well-received GKids releases “Ernest & Celestine” and “A Letter to Momo,” were technically listed among 2012 releases.)

So, with 19 toons qualifying for the animated feature Oscar, it’s anybody’s guess which ones will snare the category’s five available slots. Although Pixar has won seven of the past 12 trophies, “Monsters University” could conceivably get shut out entirely, much as so-so sequel “Cars 2” did in 2011. Meanwhile, DreamWorks Animation (which saw two pics nominated that same year) delivers a pair of original contenders in caveman comedy “The Croods” and racing-snail toon “Turbo.”

Though the branch has often chosen to honor hand-drawn and stop-motion toons, this year’s lineup is dominated by CG offerings, including Blue Sky’s “Epic” and Sony Pictures Animation’s “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” (plus live-action hybrid “Smurfs 2”). “Frozen” seems poised to become a “Tangled”-size hit for the Mouse House’s revitalized animation division.

Though most audiences haven’t seen the year’s more obscure offerings, the branch is expected to screen all eligible contenders before casting their votes and that could lead to some surprises.

It won’t hurt Japanese maestro Hayao Miyazaki’s chances that the Studio Ghibli chief announced his retirement after completing “The Wind Rises.” Korean director Yeon Sang-ho (“The King of Pigs”) offers a darker, more adult tale with his hand-drawn “The Fake,” while Brazilian animator Luiz Bolognesi earned the Annecy film fest’s top prize for his lushly illustrated “Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury.”

Additional contenders include turkey-themed “Free Birds,” South African “Khumba,” Canadian “The Legend of Sarila,” Spanish stop-motion entry “O Apostolo,” winged-“Cars” spinoff “Planes” and the trilogy capper in the “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” anime series.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 8

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. asdf says:

    I’m hoping Madoka Magica wil at least be nominated ^^

  2. JimG. says:

    Yeah, it does look like there may have been some DW boosting here.

    Despicable Me 2
    Monsters University
    The Wind Rises

    are the most likely nominees. The 5th slot is probably betw/ The Croods and Ernest and Celestine unless another smaller film gains traction.

  3. Branko Burcksen says:

    Madoka Magica: Rebellion will play in LA and other major cities starting December 6. I saw the short TV series and the two compilation movies. It is really an incredible story. It is one thing for an animated film to be artistically daring or mature. It is a whole other thing when an animated film sends its audience on an emotional roller coaster that seems to offer nothing more than devastation, despair and the complete destruction humanity only to come out the other end and offer something truly transcendent. Madoka does what few films of any type even strive for: challenge the essence of human compassion and raise the stakes to literal cosmic levels. (Have I over sold it yet?)

  4. stu freeman says:

    The Fake, Rio 2096, Khumba. Sarila, Apostolo and Puella Magi haven’t opened here in NYC. Have they opened in LA or are they scheduled to before the year ends?

  5. Ian D says:

    Of course it will get nominated, it just might not win.

  6. Steven Awalt says:

    “…the critics were fairly mixed…” on Monster’s University, Despicable Me, and The Croods? Did you actually bother to look at the critical aggregates on these films that you specifically cite? Even couching your comment with the weak “fairly”, you’re just plain incorrect here. This undermines the larger point of your article.

  7. Jesus says:

    Is this an FYC ad for the mediocre to terrible Dreamworks pics? What does this artcile have to do with Pixar getting shut out? Way to spend your spin bucks DW. Terrible ‘reporting’ Debruge, terrible.

  8. AnimationChris says:

    I feel like voters just see which one is listed as “Pixar’s” and move on… so sad. That’s especially how I felt after Brave’s win. This year is a real toss up. I was surprised at how much I liked Monsters 2. But I really liked Croods, and actually went to the theater for it. Dragons 2 better win next year, sallimsayin.

More Film News from Variety