Could this be an award season with no Pixar Oscar nominee? In a weak year for top animated features, enough have been officially submitted to the Academy for Oscar consideration to likely make a race with five nominees, even though several of the films have yet to qualify via a required Los Angeles run. In the eventuality that five films don't nab high enough ratings from the animated feature screening committee of 7.5 (out of 6--poor--to 10--excellent), though, there could be fewer entries.
It's unlikely that any of this batch will make it into best picture contention, as Pixar's "Up" and Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" have done. Which films will be rewarded by critics groups at year end? The early frontrunners are, based on reviews and festival reception, in alphabetical order:
- DreamWorks Animation's international hit "The Croods" ($573 million worldwide) is more likely to wind up in the nominees circle than its disappointing "Turbo" ($269 million worldwide). But it's not likely to be boosted by critics groups, as it earned 69% on Rotten Tomatoes.
- Universal/Illumination Entertainment's sequel "Despicable Me 2" is not only the animated comedy blockbuster of this year ($912 million worldwide), but is also admired for the quality of its animation; critics gave it 75% on the Tomatometer.
- From France and Belgium comes Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner's delightful Cannes Director's Fortnight entry and Cesar-winning 2-D family feature "Ernest & Celestine" (review here, GKids, December 6), about how two rebellious outsiders, a gruff bear and a spunky mouse, help each other and their divided worlds.
- Disney's contender "Frozen" (November 22) has already scored rave reviews as well as some feminist controversy.
- Studio Ghibli's "The Wind Rises" (Disney, November 8) is possibly the last film from Hayao Miyazaki, the Walt Disney of Japan, who won the animated Oscar for "Spirited Away." "The Wind Rises" is an historical true story of the brilliant designer behind the Zero fighter plane that wrecked havoc in World War II.
The question is whether Pixar will sit out this Oscar race. Pixar has won an amazing seven Oscars since 2001 ("Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles," "Wall-E," "Toy Story 3," "Ratatouille," "Up," "Brave"). This year's Pixar sequel, "Monsters University," scored better with critics (a respectable 78% on Rotten Tomatoes) than not-nominated "Cars 2" (39% on Rotten Tomatoes) and earned $742 million worldwide. But will it earn a 7.5?
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2”
“Despicable Me 2”
“Ernest and Celestine”
“The Legend of Sarila”
“A Letter to Momo”
“Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie – Rebellion”
“Rio: 2096 A Story of Love and Fury”
“The Smurfs 2”
“The Wind Rises”
We'll find out the final nominees for the 86th Academy Awards nominations on Thursday, January 16, 2014. The Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2013 will be presented on Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland and televised live on ABC Television and in 225 countries around the world.
Trailers, after the jump.