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Hollywood Contenders: Looking at potential Best Animated Feature contenders

Today, for the next installment of my weekly category by category contender rundown, I’m moving on from the big eight temporarily. Yes, I’ve gone beyond those categories (I’ll return to finish up with the last screenplay category during the coming week) and am now looking at one of the in between ones…namely the Best Animated Feature race. It’s one of the last ones that I’m going to do (still deciding on if the technical categories are getting their moment in the sun or not), at least before I take another look at the main races towards the winter, so I hope you enjoy, as always…

Since there are far less contenders in this category as a general rule, with this year being no exception, I’ll be doing things a little bit differently than normal. Here now are the five particular animated films that I have cracking the unofficial lineup at this point in the year:


1. Zootopia – I don’t think there’s a strong frontrunner right now, but if there is, it’s probably this slightly surprising Disney smash hit. Upon release, it was heavily praised for working in social commentary and a message of tolerance that set it apart, so there’s every chance that voters see that as a difference maker in the end. Nothing is set in stone, but I think this is a fairly safe prediction for Animated Feature at this point. It may not remain in the pole position all season, but here in August, it just fits. This wouldn’t be an all time great winner, but it wouldn’t be an embarrassing one either.

2. April and the Extraordinary World – There’s always something a bit classier like this taking up a slot, and I’ve heard nothing but excellent things about this one, so it’s my current runner up. The film is a GKids release, and that’s always something that Oscar pays attention to. It doesn’t necessarily translate into a win, but a nomination is very doable. There are no guarantees, but at the current moment in time, I’d be surprised if this one get snubbed.

3. Finding Dory – As sort of a default choice, you could easily have this sequel in the top spot. You could also foresee it missing, so I’ve split the difference here. The latest from Pixar was well liked, but perhaps not as beloved as it would need to be in order to secure a win. I’ve been toying with leaving it out of my predictions, but that’s a bridge slightly too far for me right now. We’ll see what happens in the months to come, but while this isn’t Finding Nemo quality, it likely won’t be ignored in the same way as something like Monsters University.

4. Moana – A bit of an X factor in my eyes, it could be a flick more likely to make a play in Best Original Song, but anything is possible, and you certainly could see it wind up as a bit time player. Another Disney release, the studio might have to make choices about where to prioritize, and how confident they are in this more original property could dictate how much of a push Finding Dory or Zootopia get. A lot remains to be seen here with this contender, so stay tuned!

5. Sausage Party – Yes, it’s probably more likely that a movie like Kubo and the Two Strings makes it in than this raunch-fest (or maybe even something like The Little Prince or The Secret Life of Pets), but as perhaps the funniest comedy of 2016 so far, it’s certainly in play. The possibility of an Original Song citation as well helps its case, no doubt about that. Sony is going to be putting money into a campaign, both in Animated Feature as well as in Original Song, so watch out for this one…

finding dory aquarium
Next in line I’d have these ten contenders (just sans my commentary here) for Best Animated Feature:

6. Kubo and the Two Strings
7. The Red Turtle
8. The Secret Life of Pets
9. The Little Prince
10. Kung Fu Panda 3
11. Sing
12. The Angry Birds Movie
13. Storks
14. Miss Hokusai
15. Trolls

secret life of pets
Finally, here’s five more players to wind up with a top 20 overall for the category:

16. Ice Age: Collision Course
17. Phantom Boy
18. The Girl without Hands
19. Henchmen
20. Ratchet & Clank

Stay tuned for the last of the big eight categories next week!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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