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Animation Oscar Frontrunners--Will Pixar Skip This Round?

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood November 5, 2013 at 2:27PM

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 of 7.5 (out of 6--poor--to 10--excellent), though, there could be fewer entries.
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"The Wind Rises"
"The Wind Rises"
"Ernest & Celestine"
"Ernest & Celestine"

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.
Wolf of Wall Street
  • 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.
  • 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.
"Despicable Me 2"
"Despicable Me 2"

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?

The 19 animated features submitted for the 2013 Oscar Race, listed in alphabetical order, are:

“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2”

“The Croods”

“Despicable Me 2”

“Epic”

“Ernest and Celestine”

“The Fake”

“Free Birds“

“Frozen”

“Khumba”

“The Legend of Sarila”

“A Letter to Momo”

“Monsters University”

“O Apóstolo”

“Planes”

“Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie – Rebellion”

“Rio: 2096 A Story of Love and Fury”

“The Smurfs 2”

“Turbo”

“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.

This article is related to: Awards, Awards, Oscars, Animation, Frozen, Monsters University , Pixar , Up, Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney, Disney , The Croods, The Wind Rises, Awards Season Roundup


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.