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2017 Oscar Predictions: Best Animated Feature

Studio Ghibli hopes to fend off blockbuster contenders from Walt Disney Animation Studios this year. (Updated 2/22/2017.)



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The Academy has been giving out the Best Animated Feature prize for 15 years now, and Pixar has claimed nine victories, the most of any studio. But “Finding Dory,” the studio’s critically hailed blockbuster sequel to Oscar-winner “Finding Nemo,” did not make the cut this year.

Instead, Pixar’s home, Walt Disney Animation Studios, which has been on a meteoric rise over the past several years, notching back-to-back wins for “Frozen” and “Big Hero 6” in 2014 and 2015, respectively, delivered this year’s $1 billion anti-racist global blockbuster “Zootopia,” which easily placed among the nominees, along with their latest princess musical, set in the Pacific Islands, Thanksgiving breakout “Moana,” with a song contender written by “Hamilton” star Lin-Manuel Miranda.

"The Red Turtle"

“The Red Turtle”

But while these dominating animation studios have big-time contenders, so does Studio Ghibli with “The Red Turtle,” which broke out at Cannes and Toronto. Sony Pictures Classics is handling the domestic release and push for Oscar, which Studio Ghibli hasn’t won since Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” in 2003.

Also screening at Cannes in The Director’s Fortnight was eventual Swiss Oscar entry, stop-motion coming-of-age story “My Life as a Zucchini.” And stop-motion studio Laika keeps creating strong animated stories; lyrical Japanese fairy tale “Kubo and the Two Strings” is their most visually elegant to date, and took home a BAFTA.

Contenders (in order of likelihood to win):

1. “Zootopia” (Disney)
2. “Kubo and the Two Strings” (Laika/Focus Features)
3. “Moana” (Disney)
4. “The Red Turtle” (Studio Ghibli/Sony Pictures Classics)
5. “My Life as a Zucchini” (Gkids)

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Best Picture
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Best Animated Feature

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I want to say “The Boy And The Beast” should be up there but then when I think about it, it’s a Non-Ghibli movie, it airs slightly on the wrirder side of anime, and it’s licensed by a studio (Funimation) that your average oscar voter probably hasn’t heard of and there a good chance Funimation won’t even bother wasting time and money promoting it for a campaign when it’s a long shot that it’ll be nominated let alone win. But yeah going purely on quality I think it deserves to be considered.


    In fact The Boy and the Beast wasn’t submitted for consideration


      The Boy & The Beast was submitted last year and, as we all know, it wasn’t nominated.


        And rightly so, because its a major letdown from the director of “Wolf Children”…

Iván el Conquistador

Ice Age? Really?


I sure am glad to know “Finding Dory” is good! However, they’re saying it’s not quite as good as “Finding Nemo,” but still a worthy sequel. We all knew that would most likely be the case. It will get nominated for sure, but I think “Zootopia” has this one in the bag.


I loved Finding Dory and Moana definitely looks great. I’m curious about the Ghibli movie too. But Zootopia is the standout here. Tt has a great story with great characters and beautiful animation. It’s also educational. It definitely deserves to win here.


Where is “Kung Fu Panda 3?”


    Zootopia, Finding Dory, Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, and Sing.


Seems like GKids gets nominated every year now, and everybody underestimates them and is surprised when they earn nominations. So I’ll go ahead and say either “April and the Extraordinary World” or “Phantom Boy”.


No matter how great “Finding Dory” was and no matter how much money it’s making, “Zootopia” has the Oscar in the bag. “Moana” looks like it could be a contender, but it’ll all depend on the quality.


Kingsglaive from Sony Pictures seems to be a serious contender if ever the end result is as good as the trailers!


“Zootopia” was not expected to be as great as it really was. Many thought it would just be an animated Disney B-movie. It’s kind of like how many thought “The Lion King” was going to be just that and all of a sudden it was and still is claimed by many people (myself included) to be Disney Animation’s best movie of all time. Now almost all of us are claiming “Zootopia” to be up there with it. Where “The Lion King” and “Pocahontas” both were in production at the same time back then, they weren’t expecting much from “The Lion King” and instead were expecting “Pocahontas” to be the next big Disney classic at the time. However, it went the other way around. I actually enjoyed “Pocahontas.” It may not have been historically accurate and it was pretty much a step back from “The Lion King,” but I still liked it a lot. That kinda makes me wonder if “Moana” will follow in the same path as “Pocahontas” when it opens later this year. I hope not, but you never know!


I don’t want “Moana” to fail critically like “Pocahontas” kinda did (56% on Rotten Tomatoes. Not too bad, but not too good either). But like I said, you never know!


    Moana got a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes !


Zootopia was a great movie , it defiantly deserves that oscar


    It will win! Although, “Moana” still has yet to come out, but I still think “Zootopia” will win that Oscar!


ICE Age? Come on!


Like I said, “Moana” and “Kubo” still have yet to come out. But it would be a flat-out crime if “Zootopia” lost.


I watched Zootopia a few days ago and I think it is a fantastic movie yet it in my opinion, it does not have the quality of e.g. Inside Out. Zootopias ending was fabulous but it wasnt that riveting in its fist half/quarter. Thus, I thinks that if Kubo or Moana deliver, they will have also very good chances at winning the trophy. And Laika has not won, yet even though they made fantastic movies. And a lot of people are complaining about Disney winning too often. If Kubo and the two Strings becomes a critically acclaimed movie, my bet is on it.


Toy Story 3 is THE ONLY sequel that actually won the award, tho. A critically well-received box office juggernaut like Shrek 2 or even a season’s “frontrunner” How to Train Your Dragon 2 couldn’t crack it.


think Zootopia has a slight edge due to its social commentary of a nature especially this season, however if Moana delivers it will be the most relevant one in voters’ minds by then.


    No mater how great “Moana” turns out, it’ll have a hard time topping “Zootopia” as the frontrunner. I think “Moana” might be a bigger player in Best Original Song instead.




    No, it doesn’t. Finding Dory or Zootopia. Nothing comes close.

    Baby Jy

    This whole website is flawed, but this list is missing Sausage Party, by far the best animated film of the year.


    I agree, it’s crazy that Sing is there and Kubo isn’t


I hole Kubo and The Two Strings and The Little Prince gets nominated. Zootopia is great but I’d love to see either of the two get it.


There’s a good chance “Finding Dory” might not get nominated.


Ice age really?


I hoped that the recent anime film “Your Name” would be one of the nominees. It is really good and has topped the My Anime List rankings. 8.7/10 on IMDb.


What about Only Yesterday, the studio ghibli movie thay finally came out in the U.S. this year? Why isnt that on the list?


    And why the heck is ice age a contender? That movie got less than 20% on RT. It has no reason to be a contender


    Is “Only Yesterday” eligible? I know it wasn’t released in the U.S. until 2016, but it came out in Japan in 1991… The Academy’s website isn’t particularly clear on the rules for this. If it is somehow eligible, it definitely should be in the running. It is absolutely fantastic, and everyone should see it. Be prepared to ugly cry.


    ONLY YESTERDAY played at festivals in the U.S. in the past, including at the Museum of Modern Art in 1999, where I saw it, and it ran on the TCM cable channel in 2006.


      That makes sense I guess


What’s “Kubo” doing in the long shots?


    Agree, bro!


      I still think “Zootopia” will take it because of its themes. But I think “Kubo and the Two Strings” should definitely be nominated and considered as a contender.


I thought “Finding Dory” was a surprising misfire from the ever-reliable Pixar. Felt uninspired. Hoping “Kubo” or “Zootopia” takes the cake this year.


    I would call Pixar almost ever-reliable. They were untouchable in the 2000´s but in the 2010´s, there was one misfire with Cars 2, one movie that just boasted great animation with “The Good Dinosaur” and two movies considered by everyone solid but not great with “Monsters Academy” and “Brave”. Fortunately, Pete Doctor delivered us “Inside Out” last year, so we can confident that there are still masterpieces about to come from this studio.


If “Moana” can top or even match the score “Zootopia” has on Rotten Tomatoes, that will be something. We’ll just have to wait and see, though.


Keep “The Secret Life of Pets” in the long shots because that movie does NOT deserve a nomination. Also, just because “Zootopia” came out earlier in the year doesn’t mean it will be snubbed like “The Lego Movie” was. Look at “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Rango?” Those two films came out in March of their years (2010 and 2011) and they were nominated for Best Animated Feature and “Rango” actually won. Where this is a strong year for animation, it could be anybody’s year.


Of course, you´re right. I just think that Zootopia´s chance to gain the trophy decreased a bit due to its march release. If it had been realeased in November, it would have won the Oscar without any hesitation.


    It’s still considered a favorite by many, but we’ll see! “Rango” came out the first week of March in 2011 and it won the trophy. That was also a pretty strong year for animation.


Well, “Zootopia” might as well be the frontrunner now since it’s being honored at the Hollywood Film Awards for Animation of the Year. Most animated films that have received that honor had gone on to win Best Animated Feature at the Oscars. Notice, I said most of them. “Ratatouille,” “WALL-E,” “Up,” “Toy Story 3,” “Rango,” and “Inside Out” are the movies to have received that honor and win the Best Animated Film Oscar afterwards. Other movies that also received the Hollywood Animation Award like “Cars” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2” were nominated, but neither one took home the gold. Then, there are films like “Rise of the Guardians” and “Monsters University” to have received the Hollywood Animation Award as well. However, both of those movies were snubbed at the Oscars. We’ll see as time goes on, but it would be a flat-out crime to not nominate “Zootopia” for Best Animated Feature Film next year since it still has a strong chance of winning.

I should also mention out of all the animated movies that won the Hollywood Animation Award, most of them are from Pixar (“Cars,” “Ratatouille,” “WALL-E,” “Up,” “Toy Story 3,” “Monsters University,” and “Inside Out”). That means “Zootopia” will become the first animated movie from Disney, without Pixar, to receive the Hollywood Animation Award. Now that’s something!


BTW, it’s MISS HOKUSAI, not MISS HASUKAI. The character is the daughter of the famous 19th century painter of woodblock prints, Hokusai.


I loved Zootopia and Finding Dory but Kubo is easily better than both of them.

steven anthony

Sing, The Red Turtle, Zootopia. It’s okay. Finding Dory? no. Moana and Kubo are better for the frontrunners.

Ridaa Sulaiman

where is Jungle book??


    Jungle book was a live action movie, nit animated


It’s Miss Hokusai not Hasukai.That I call an embarrassing mistake!!




Kimi no na wa is the most overrated crap which is highly overrated coz off the visuals,such poor plot,I hope it never get nominated.


I think you’re definitely underestimating kubo and the two strings. It worked far better critically than most of the frontrunners, even if it wasn’t a huge financial success. I think it’s a definite nominee AT LEAST.


Kubo and trolls need to switch places. I dont think Trolls is good enough to be in the frontrunners


Zootopia is going to win, no doubt about it. As far as the nominations, I think that Kubo and Sausage Party have definitely a shot


    I think “Zootopia” has the gold in the bag as well with “Kubo and the Two Strings” being the likely runner-up. “Moana” could also be a strong contender.


How can you say Sing is a bigger contender than Kubo. I do not understand you


I don’t see anything here for Your Name. This film is getting Spirited Away buzz!


    You’re right buddy
    That movie is oscar material…


25 April should definately be a finalist. Such a clever, poignant and moving film. And an animation for adults – finally! I didn’t think animation could be so emotional, cried and cried … and I also loved the way it melded documentary and graphic novel-style animation in such a memorable way.


Let’s just say it’s a toss-up now!


It’s a shame “25 April” is likely to get overlooked. An animated documentary from Australia it’s very different from all the others on the list. Very moving it really is an incredible film. I hope the jury takes the time to watch it.

Justin Jaeger

Give us back the old Oscar Predictions

    Justin Jaeger

    Sing??? Are you serious? And Kubo is not a long shot. Whoever was on the predictions last year should come back. Indiewire has always had excellent predictions that were very up to date and specific, and this year they’re slacking big time.


That must’ve been kimi no nawa on that list. That film became an officially consideration for oscar material…


Huge surprise when I went to 25 April at TIFF… this was not a kids film at all. Very different from all the others by using a unique narration style from the actual diaries of the soldiers. Powerful account of a historical battle forgotten by much of the world.. Moving Film


Huge surprise when I went to 25 April at TIFF… this was not a kids film at all. Very different from all the others by using a unique narration style from the actual diaries of the soldiers. Powerful account of a historical battle forgotten by much of the world.. Moving Film

Danny Schuhmacher

No mention of “Your name”? It probably wont get nominated but it should be on a list of long shots

Michael McDermott

Has Your Name not been submitted for Oscar consideration? If it has then that film should definitely be one of the front runners in this competition.


Disney will win, as they have pretty much every year. A shame really, but it is the Oscars so what do you expect?


25 April blew me away with what Leanne Pooley was able to achieve using an animated medium. Somber, captivating and effective. Unbelievable!


Zootopia has this. And hopefully a Best Picture Nomination. One of the great animated films ever.


Zootopia is gonna be the one, its an excellent movie…


Where “Zootopia” landed on AFI’s Top 10 Films of 2016 list yesterday, it is destined to win now. It’ll be hard for Academy voters to ignore it. I still can’t get over “The Lego Movie” getting snubbed a couple of years ago. That movie didn’t even make AFI’s Top 10 Films of 2014. Now I know for sure, that’s NOT going to be the case with “Zootopia.”


okay here is what i say will win Zootopia and Kubo and the two strings…. ive seen them and reviewed them they where the most beautiful movies i ever seen finding dory is a contender but doesn’t seem to hook the oscars yet so my top 2 is zootopia and kubo


I want kimi no Na wa to win


Academy Awards should consider ‘YOUR NAME’ (KIMI NO NA WA) to be nominated. That’s the most mind-blowing animated movie of the year, for some countries in Asia and also in the world soon or later.


    Kimi no na wa needs to be up for nomination it just pulls at the heart strings. A must see film.


Kimi No Nawa (“your name”) watch it and you’ll know it deserves to belong on your list!

– Zootopia, Moana, The Red Turtle, Kimi no nawa (your name), Kubo and the two strings.

PS: sorry ellen… i still loved the movie though.


While zootopia is an amazing family animated film and will likely win, it is very disappointing that an adult animated documentary does not appear on your list. 25 April was emotional, educational and visually appealing. It should not be overlooked!


“Your name” deserves the win zootopia second


My money is on either Zootopia or Kubo. I had high hopes for Kung Fu Panda 3 but that movie was no where near as good as the first two. Zootopia might take it just because of the timing.


I think kubo deserves the oscar, although Ive not seen the ghibli film yet which could actually be better.


Your name (Kimi no na wa)? No? Come on!


Your name (Kimi no na wa)? No? Come on!


For me is a one race horse … I want Chief Bogo and Nick Wild to come to claim that Oscar for Zootopia


What about sing?, if you watch closely it has a massage, and deserves an Oscar award


I’m betting “Your Name” will get a nomination. It’s an excellent movie, and the academy always likes to nominate a few foreign movies in the animated category. I said the same thing last year about “When Marnie Was There,” and I was right (and Indiewire had it in the “Longshots” category)

Mystery Man

I thought “Moana” was great. But let’s be honest, it really didn’t bring anything new to the table in terms of its story. It pretty much followed the typical Disney formula. However, it worked because it was self-aware of that. It also shows lots of respect to the Polynesian culture and that’s awesome. The story was just really exciting and fun and that’s all it needed to be along with some really catchy songs and a good message. Movies like “Zootopia” and “Kubo and the Two Strings” had more original storylines that went a lot more deeper with a great message behind each of them. They both remind us of why people are enjoying animated films nowadays and how they have been stepping up their game in the last few years. For that reason, I would say the Oscar will go between those two and I’m betting on “Zootopia” to win the gold because that movie tackled some extremely important topics that were really needed for our country and for our world today.

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