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Oscars 2023: Best Animated Feature Predictions

"Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" becomes a contender with Annie wins, but this is still for "Pinocchio" to lose.

Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio - (L-R) Gepetto (voiced by David Bradley) and Pinocchio (voiced by Gregory Mann). Cr: Netflix © 2022




We will update all our Oscar predictions throughout the season, so keep checking IndieWire for the latest news from the 2023 Oscar race. The nomination round of voting will take place from January 12 to January 17, 2023, with the official Oscar nominations announced on January 24, 2023. The final voting is between March 2 and 7, 2023. Finally, the 95th Oscars telecast will be broadcast on Sunday, March 12 and air live on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

See our initial thoughts on what to expect at the 95th Academy Awards here.

The State of the Race

“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” moved a step closer to winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature after leading ASIFA-Hollywood’s 50th Annie Awards (held February 25 at UCLA’s Royce Hall). The stop-motion “Pinocchio” from Netflix took the Best Feature prize, as well as feature film awards for Best Character Animation (Tucker Barrie), Best Direction (del Toro and Mark Gustafson), Best Music (Alexandre Desplat, Roeban Katz, del Toro, Patrick McHale), and Best Production Design (Curt Enderle, Guy Davis).

However, in winning Best Indie Feature at the Annies, A24’s “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” stepped up as the primary challenger. The acclaimed stop-motion/live-action hybrid also scored Annies for Best Voice Acting for co-creator Jenny Slate and Best Writing — Feature (director Dean Fleischer Camp, Slate, Nick Paley, Elisabeth Holm). Although it was a critical favorite and is very well liked, the challenge has been getting it seen by more voters.

The other three Oscar nominees are Pixar’s “Turning Red,” DreamWorks’ “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” and Netflix’s “The Sea Beast.”

“Pinocchio,” del Toro’s first animated feature, has been the frontrunner from the outset, benefiting from the director’s auteur status. He would become the first Best Director (“The Shape of Water”) winner to also grab Best Animated Feature. This poignant father-son musical drama and anti-fascist fable pushes stop-motion (from the Portland arm of “BoJack Horseman” studio ShadowMachine) in more of a live-action direction with lighting, camera work, and performances.

Meanwhile, “Marcel the Shell” made Oscar history as the first stop-motion/live-action nominee after qualifying as a unique hybrid. The feature debut from Fleischer Camp (adapted from his series of shorts with Slate), follows the 1-inch anthropomorphic shell (voiced by Slate) on a journey to find his family, becoming a viral sensation along the way thanks to a doc filmmaker (played mostly off-screen by Camp) and an appearance on “60 Minutes.” The film has been embraced for its charm, wit, the unusually small scale of its stop-motion (overseen by animation director Kirsten Lepore), and adorable breakout star.

Significantly, “Turning Red” and “Puss in Boots” are both CG standouts for pushing 2D aesthetics in very different directions. Director Domee Shi paved the way as a female visionary at Pixar with “Turning Red” and its quirky, anime-inspired aesthetic that matched her comedy-fantasy about a giant red panda as a metaphor for puberty.

The experimental “Into the Spider-Verse” look greatly impacted the painterly fairy book style of “Puss in Boots,” which finds the fearless feline from the “Shrek” franchise (Antonio Banderas) battling mortality after burning through the first eight of his nine lives. Director Joel Crawford benefited from an expanded DreamWorks toolbox and some psychedelic 2D looks for the fights between Puss and The Wolf (Wagner Moura).

The lone surprise entry is “The Sea Beast,” the retro seafaring adventure directed by former Disney vet Chris Williams (the Oscar-winning “Big Hero 6”) about an orphaned stowaway (Zaris-Angel Hator), a sea monster hunter (Karl Urban), and a misunderstood Red Leviathan.

Below are the nominees ranked in order of likelihood to win:
“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” (ShadowMachine/Netflix)
“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” (A24)
“Turning Red” (Pixar/Disney)
“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” (DreamWorks/Universal)
“The Sea Beast” (Netflix)

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