In the wake of the Golden Globes nominations this week and the Annie Awards nominations last week, the Oscar race for animated feature is coalescing around five films that pit the best of big studio, computer-generated animation against two stop-motion projects from smaller companies.
Both awards groups -- the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., which selects the Globes, and the International Animated Film Society, which chooses the Annies, nominated the same five films: “Anomalisa,” “The Good Dinosaur,” “Inside Out,” “The Peanuts Movie” and “Shaun the Sheep Movie.” (Incidentally, The Times selected the directors of these same five movies for its annual Envelope animation roundtable.)
Among the list are two films from perennial academy favorite Pixar Animation Studios (“Inside Out” and “The Good Dinosaur”) and one from Fox’s Blue Sky Studios taking on a beloved property (“The Peanuts Movie”). In the field of stop-motion are U.K.-based Aardman Animations’ “Shaun the Sheep,” which won fans for its dialogue-free approach, and California-based Starburns Industries’ “Anomalisa,” a rare animated movie crafted expressly for adults.
“Inside Out,” Pete Docter’s inventive story set inside the brain of an adolescent girl, has been considered the Oscar frontrunner since it opened in June to rave reviews, and went on to win fans at the box office, grossing more than $850 million so far worldwide.
But “Anomalisa,” Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s R-rated, Kickstarter-financed exploration of the psyche, emerged out of the fall film festivals with equally gushing praise and a gung-ho distributor, Paramount Pictures, setting up a likely showdown between two imaginative, thematically similar movies that represent the opposite ends of the animation business in their scope.
One potential spoiler in this year’s race is tiny New York-based distributor GKIDS, which has a terrific track record of winning over the academy’s unpredictable animation branch with its hand-drawn and foreign animated films. GKIDS’ “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet,” which combines animated sequences from several well-liked 2D directors, including Tomm Moore and Bill Plympton, could entice the sizable chunk of the branch who worked in that medium themselves.
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