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.
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.
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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)