Cartoon contenders

Eye on the Oscars: Animation Preview

Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Voice talent: Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson
In its favor: Pixar stretched beyond its comfort zone in this stunning-to-behold, Scotland-set CG fairy tale. Girl empowerment and mother-daughter themes are a plus.


Director: Chris Renaud
Voice talent: Danny DeVito, Zac Efron
In its favor: Between the gorgeous animation and beloved source material, this color-saturated CG toon could overcome critically tepid reviews.


Director: Tim Burton
Voice talent: Charlie Tahan, Martin Landau
In its favor: Box office was soft, but reactions have been strong to this loving stop-motion homage to not just monster movies, but also man’s best friend.


(GKids/Studio Ghibli)
Director: Goro Miyazaki
Voice talent: Anton Yelchin, Sara Bolger
In its favor: After the disappointment of “Tales From Earthsea,” Hayao Miyazaki’s son earned the Japanese Academy’s top toon prize for this romantic period drama.


(Sony Pictures Animation)
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Voice talent: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg
In its favor: Admirers of cult TV toonster Tartakovsky (“Samurai Jack”) are happy to see him thrive in the 3D CG feature world. A nom would encourage him.


(Fox/Blue Sky)
Directors: Steve Martino, Mike Thurmeier
Voice talent: Ray Romano, Denis Leary
In its favor: The first “Ice Age” got a nom, and the Acad has smiled on toon sequels before (“Shrek 2” and “Toy Story 3”). Plus, this franchise’s popular appeal is undeniable.


Directors: Bill Jones, Jeff Simpson, Ben Timlett
In its favor: It’s exciting to see the stylistic range as 14 toon studios contribute diverse (mostly CG) segments to this 3D retelling of the comic’s exploits.


(DreamWorks Animation)
Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon
Voice talent: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock
In its favor: This comic caper brings the zoo-break series full circle. Don’t be surprised if the toon branch flips for its loopy blend of Tex Avery-style gags and CG animation.


(GKids/Blue Spirit/Be-Films)
Director: Jean-Francois Laguionie
Voice talent: Jessica Monceau, Adrien Larmande
In its favor: Like “Wreck-It Ralph” set in a painting instead of a videogame, this vibrant and imaginative French toon celebrates artistry and “egalite” alike.


Directors: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Voice talent: Kodi Smit-McPhee, John Goodman
In its favor: Another dark and dazzlingly realized stop-motion film from the makers of “Coraline.” Amid so many kidpics, this entry has grown-up appeal going for it.


(Sony Pictures Animation/Aardman)
Director: Peter Lord
Voice talent: Hugh Grant, Imelda Staunton
In its favor: The Academy loves the stop-motion work of the studio behind Oscar winner “Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit,” even if this wasn’t quite the hit.


Directors: Antoine Delesvaux, Joann Sfar
Voice talent: Francois Morel
In its favor: Last year, the branch nommed GKids’ hand-drawn “A Cat in Paris” over “Cars 2” and “Tintin,” which bodes well for this theologically angled, French-made tale of a cat in Algeria.


(DreamWorks Animation)
Director: Peter Ramsay
Voice talent: Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin
In its favor: DWA’s most visually demanding CG toon yet, this imaginative all-star lineup of childhood heroes puts a fresh spin on characters such as Santa Claus and Jack Frost.


(Walt Disney Animation Studios)
Director: Rich Moore
Voice talent: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman
In its favor: Disney seems to have found its groove again with this candy-bright, “Toy Story”-like look at how videogame folk spend their free time.


(GKids/Prima Linea)
Director: Remy Bezancon
Voice talent: Max Renaudin
In its favor: A success in France, this hand-drawn toon uses rich visuals and time-proven techniques to tell the story of the first giraffe transported to Paris.



Here’s what little is known about half a dozen of this year’s more under-the-radar animated entries

“Adventures in Zambezia”
A lonely young falcon discovers an African city bustling with birds in this 3D CG entry from Triggerfish toon studios.

“Delhi Safari”

In this Indian-made 3D CG toon (from Krayon), wild animals attempt to reason with land-hungry humans.

“Hey Krishna”
Vying with “Delhi Safari” for dibs as India’s first 3D CG release, Reliance’s biopic traces God Krishna’s first 10 years.

“The Mystical Laws”
A number of respected anime artists collaborated on this propagandistic overview of the Happy Science religion.

“Secret of the Wings”
Disney’s latest CG Tinker Bell pic enjoyed a qualifying run at the El Capitan before DVD.

“Walter & Tandoori’s Christmas”
A Canadian fellow and his talking Indian chicken face ecological challenges in this humorous hand-drawn toon.

Eye on the Oscars: Animation Preview
Acad swoons for toon tunes | Cartoon contenders | Pixar pro hits with fast track | Live-action techniques bring life to stop-motion

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Leads Crowded Weekend With $21 Million

    The Bean Bag Boys, the self-appointed nickname for the trio of best friends in Universal’s “Good Boys,” are conquering much more than sixth grade. They are also leading the domestic box office, exceeding expectations and collecting $21 million on opening weekend. “Good Boys,” which screened at 3,204 North American theaters, is a much-needed win for [...]

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

  • Vitalina Varela

    Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela'

    Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content