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Oscars: Pixar Shut Out of Animated Feature Category

Tuesday morning’s Oscar nominations for best animated film skewed towards Disney Animation, stop-motion films,  the international and the quirky — but Disney’s Pixar saw a rare shutout in the animated feature film category.

“Finding Dory,” Pixar’s blockbuster that grossed over $1 billion worldwide, was not among the nominees.

Moana” and “Zootopia” led the charge for Disney Animation, which scored two nods in the category.

Pixar has dominated the animation category since 2004, when “Finding Nemo” won the Emeryville-based company’s first Oscar. Other winners include “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” “Wall-E,” “Up,” “Toy Story 3,”  “Brave” and last year’s winner “Inside Out.”

Pixar did receive a nomination on Tuesday for animated short “Piper,” which played before “Finding Dory.”

A pair of stop-motion titles — Laika/Focus Features ‘ feature film “Kubo and the Two Strings” and Gebeka Films’ orphan tale “My Life as a Zucchini” — received Oscar nominations as did Studio Ghibli/Sony Pictures Classics’ dialogue-free “The Red Turtle.” “Zucchini” is a French-Swiss production while “The Red Turtle” is French-Japanese.

Zootopia” was a massive box office success, becoming one of only 28 films to top $1 billion in worldwide box office. Directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore, the comedy-adventure centered on the partnership between a rabbit police officer (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) and a con-artist fox (voiced by Jason Bateman) to uncover a conspiracy in a mammal metropolis.

Moana,” directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, is an action-adventure named after the daughter of a Polynesian tribe who seeks to save her people by finding the demigod Maui, voiced by Dwayne Johnson. Newcomer Auli’l Cravalho voices Moana. The film crossed the $500 million mark in worldwide grosses last weekend.

Kubo and the Two Strings,” directed by Travis Knight, is Laika’s fourth feature. The titular Kubo is a one-eyed boy with magical powers in ancient Japan who teams with a monkey and a beetle to battle an array of evil characters. “Kubo” grossed $48 million in the U.S. and another $22 million overseas.

“Kubo and the Two Strings” also received a nomination in Visual Effects for Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean and Brad Schiff.

“I’m over the moon!” Knight said. “An Academy Award nomination is an extraordinary and cherished gift. Two nominations is more than anyone could hope for. Every filmmaker dreams of a moment like this. But the truth is, I already lived my dream by making this film”

“My Life as a Zucchini,” directed by Claude Barras, debuted at the Cannes Film Festival and won the Audience Award and the Cristal for Best Feature Film at the Annecy animated film festival. “Zucchini” is a small boy, befriended by a police officer after his mother’s sudden death, who struggles to find his place in an orphanage but eventually learns to trust and love.

Barras said, ““To see ‘My Life as a Zucchini’ nominated as one of the world’s five best animation films is a rare and incredible feeling. Our foremost wish was to tell a story to children, one that teaches them not to be afraid, not to respond to violence with violence and to break down the walls that prevent us from sharing our differences.”

“The Red Turtle,” directed by Dutch animator Michael Dudok De Wit, centers on a man set adrift by a storm who wakes up on a deserted island, then attempts to sail away but is stopped by a magical red turtle. The film premiered at Cannes, where it won a special prize in the Un Certain Regard section, and began its U.S. run last weekend at three locations.

Disney could rack up its fifth straight win in the animated feature category. Prior to “Inside Out” last year, Disney Animation won for “Frozen” and “Big Hero 6” and Pixar’s “Brave” won in 2012. Paramount’s “Rango” won in 2011.

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