‘Toy Story 4' and ‘Frozen 2': Which Disney animated franchise will win the Oscar?
Since the creation of the animated feature category 18 years ago, just one sequel has won this Oscar — 2010’s “Toy Story 3.” Will the latest entry in that celebrated Pixar franchise become the second spinoff to take the trophy? Or will “Frozen 2” put it on ice?
Here’s the buzz on the races for animated feature, original song and original score.
“Toy Story 4"
“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”
“I Lost My Body”
On the cusp: “Abominable,” “Weathering With You,” “Klaus,” “Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles”
This is shaping up as a battle between two Disney franchises. “Toy Story 4" overcame the trepidation of critics who fretted that a new movie would mar what had been a perfect trilogy of stories. It ended up being everything we wanted a “Toy Story” movie to be: warm and witty, inventive and heartfelt. And its central subtext — figuring out what to do when one stage of your life ends and you no longer feel useful — should resonate with older voters, particularly those who saw the first three movies with their kids who are now grown. (I’m not crying, you’re crying ...)
“Frozen 2” didn’t earn the same ardor from critics. But the reviews were decent enough, and the box office has been astounding, breaking all sorts of records. The 2013 original won the animated feature Oscar, and many academy members will probably be unwilling to let it go (sorry), voting for it again.
One of the remaining spots should go to the latest entry in DreamWorks’ well-liked “Dragon” series, with the Netflix titles (the charming “Klaus” and the macabre “I Lost My Body”) battling Shinkai Makoto’s climate change love story “Weathering With You,” Laika’s stop-motion “Missing Link” and DreamWorks’ amiable “Abominable” for the other two slots.
“Into the Unknown,” from “Frozen 2"
“Stand Up,” from “Harriet”
“Beautiful Ghosts,” from “Cats”
"(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” from “Rocketman”
“Spirit,” from “The Lion King”
On the cusp: “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” from “Toy Story 4"; “Letter to My Godfather,” from “The Black Godfather”; “Daily Battles,” from “Motherless Brooklyn”; “I’m Standing With You,” from “Breakthrough”; “Invisible,” from “Klaus”; “Never Too Late,” from “The Lion King”; “Speechless,” from “Aladdin”; “I Punched Keanu Reeves,” from “Always Be My Maybe”; “For You My Love,” from “Blinded by the Light”; “One Little Soldier,” from “Bombshell”; “The Song of Names (Cantor Prayer),” from “The Song of Names”
You would think that a category boasting performances from Beyoncé (“Spirit”) and Taylor Swift (“Beautiful Ghosts”) would produce more excitement. Unfortunately, the songs aren’t great: Beyoncé's soulful vocal on “Spirit” can’t save the bland anthem, and “Beautiful Ghosts” is exactly what you’d imagine an Andrew Lloyd Webber collaboration with Swift would sound like. Is that a fear realized or a dream come true? I’ll let you decide.
But, hey, maybe I’m just suffering from a “Shallow” hangover. Cynthia Erivo’s rousing “Stand Up” could save the category (and the show), and if “I Punched Keanu Reeves,” the awesome “Always Be My Maybe” end credits song that Randall Park wrote with Dan the Automator, somehow earns a nomination, the producers would do well to book Reeves. (Come to think of it, pair him with Dwayne Johnson and you’d have a pair of most excellent hosts.)
Thomas Newman, “1917"
John Williams, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”
Alexandre Desplat, “Little Women”
Randy Newman, “Marriage Story”
James Newton Howard, “A Hidden Life”
On the cusp: Hildur Guðnadóttir, “Joker”; Marco Beltrami, “Ford v. Ferrari”; Terence Blanchard, “Harriet”; Robbie Robertson, “The Irishman”; Nicholas Britell, “The King”; Alberto Iglesias, “Pain and Glory”; Michael Giacchino, “Jojo Rabbit”; Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, “Waves”
Thomas Newman has earned 14 nominations without winning an Oscar. His celebrated cousin, Randy, has been nominated 20 times, and though he has never won for score, he has two wins for original song — “If I Didn’t Have You,” from “Monsters, Inc.” and “We Belong Together,” from “Toy Story 3.” Thomas may well finally win this year as his score is a dominant force in the war film “1917,” which contains long stretches without dialogue.
Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of “Little Women” has torrents of words, by contrast. And yet two-time Oscar winner Desplat’s score is no less a presence; lush and stirring, deepening the film’s emotional connections every step of the way.
And you probably know that Williams, with 51 Oscar nominations, is second only to Walt Disney in the history of the Academy Awards. He hasn’t won, however, in more than a quarter century (“Schindler’s List”) and, at age 87, this could be the last time to honor him. Yes, he has five Oscars already. But he’s John Williams! Imagine the ovation as he takes the stage.
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