Awards season is officially upon us and we're counting down the days until the Oscars on 24th February 2019. Here are our tips for the Best Animated Feature contenders...
Will Wes Anderson win the Best Animated Feature Oscar for Isle of Dogs?
Director Wes Anderson is the high priest of the whimsical and eccentric, having delivered a number of delightful storybook confections over the years including The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel.
In 2009, he made his first successful venture into animation with Fantastic Mr. Fox, a brilliantly inventive stop-motion take on Roald Dahl's classic story. The film was Oscar nominated for Best Animated Feature, although it was pipped to the prize by Disney-Pixar's Up, but despite this loss, Anderson's mastery of the animated medium was secured.
Expectations were therefore sky-high for this year's Isle of Dogs, Anderson's second animated odyssey about a group of feral canines inhabiting a trash heap off the coast of Japan. The movie met with critical acclaim and box office success, with viewers praising the astonishing tactility of the animation (all ruffling fur and cotton wool clouds), as well as Anderson's typically sly sense of humour.
Given Anderson's artistic credentials have won him a secure Hollywood fanbase, and given he's never personally won a Best Animated Feature Oscar before, this could be the year the Academy makes up it. The movie's offbeat design and all-star voice cast (including Bryan Cranston, Greta Gerwig and Bill Murray) means it stands out as one of the most creatively interesting animated movies in recent years, so consider this a front runner.
Is Incredibles 2 going to win Disney-Pixar its latest Oscar?
If the Oscars are looking to reward individuality, then Isle of Dogs surely has it in the bag. But Anderson's film is facing down the sheer might of Disney-Pixar, which has accumulated an astonishing 19 Academy Awards over a 33-year period. And its latest movie, Incredibles 2, presents Isle of Dogs' strongest competition for the Best Animated Feature gong.
It's not hard to see why: audience expectation for Incredibles 2 had been building since the release of the original 14 years earlier, and the sequel didn't disappoint. Director Brad Bird again assembles his primary-coloured, retro-designed world-building for another glorious celebration of superheroes, acknowledging present-day concerns by moving the character of Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) to the foreground.
But Bird's characteristically witty touches were dotted throughout, honouring the Pixar brand and proving he hadn't lost any of his touch in the preceding decade-and-a-half. Most notably, the genius deployment of infant Jack-Jack provided several of this year's funniest scenes, particularly given he was in the hands of the increasingly emasculated Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson). There's no denying that on the basis of the film itself, plus the weight of Oscars history (Pixar's previous 2018 film Coco also walked away with the prize), Incredibles 2 may have this in the bag.
Is Disney set to win an Oscar for Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2?
If we're talking inventive CGI animation, let's also give a shout-out to a non-Pixar Disney property in the form of Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2. This sequel follows on the heels of an enormously popular predecessor, albeit one that failed to translate its Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature into a win. (Instead, it went to Pixar movie Brave.)
Judging by reviews, Wreck-It Ralph 2 is a more-than-worthy successor, expanding on the exuberant visual design, in-jokes and character-driven banter that we've come to expect. This time around, Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) venture into the wilds of the internet, where they bump into an assortment of Disney characters, allowing the studio to both honour and lampoon its rich legacy.
The movie's strong reviews and box office takings in America (it posted Thanksgiving records) certainly make it a popular contender for Best Animated Feature, so will it make up for the earlier Wreck-It Ralph's loss and bring home the gold? Only time will tell.
Click here to book your tickets for Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, opening in Cineworld on 30th November.
Is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse an Oscar contender?
Who says that Disney and Pixar have the stranglehold on the Oscar for Best Animated Feature? Released on 12th December, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is poised to be a visually stunning, exciting and ever-so-slightly surreal expansion of Sony's Spider-Man movie slate, its first animated take on the character.
The movie takes as its basis the popular Miles Morales story arc – Miles being the African-American incumbent of the Spidey suit who operates in a different dimension to Peter Parker. Upon his introduction in 2011, Miles was championed for introducing grace notes of diversity and inclusivity into the comic book universe, so there's no denying the subsequent movie adaptation has its finger on the pulse.
Quite aside from all of that, it may simply be the movie's boundless imagination and sense of fun that wins it the Oscar, as Miles (Shameik Moore) teams up with Spider-Man alternates including Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) and Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage) to take down the bad guys. Will this be the time for a comic book movie to shine at the Academy Awards?
What are the other candidates for the Best Animated Feature Oscar?
Let's hear it for an altogether more British kind of stop-motion movie – Early Man, the latest film from the geniuses at Aardman. Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park marshals this off-the-wall story about a prehistoric caveman (Eddie Redmayne) who establishes a football team to save his tribe, although the plethora of football in-jokes and Brit mannerisms could make it a hard sell for Oscars voters. That said, the movie has heart and Aardman's utterly distinctive visual style to spare, so let's consider it something of a dark horse.
Finally, we ought to honour those still flying the flag for more traditional forms of hand-drawn animation. Recent movie Mirai was a critical and commercial success in its native Japan, being the tender, funny and heartfelt story of a young boy who must learn what it means to look after his younger sibling. Distributed by Japanese corporate giant Toho (responsible for distributing the pioneering animated movies of Studio Ghibli), the film is the latest in a series of critical successes from director Mamoru Hosoda, who scored hits with the likes of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
What movie do you think will win the Best Animated Feature Oscar? Tweet us your front runners @Cineworld.
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