The Academy has released the list of submissions for Best Animated Feature. There are a total of 19 films that are eligible for nomination — at least, potentially. Some of these films have not yet had their Los Angeles qualifying runs, and will only be eligible if they have those runs by the end of the year.
Here, with links to their IMDb pages, are the 19 films. Films which have already had their qualifying runs are marked with a (Q); films which have them clearly scheduled before the end of this year are marked with a (Q*).
In general, I have used the English language title for the film, if available. In some cases, I have left the original foreign title if it is substantially different.
- The Apostle
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Q)
- The Croods (Q)
- Despicable Me 2 (Q)
- Epic (Q)
- Ernest and Celestine (Q*)
- The Fake (a.k.a. Saibi in its native South Korea) (Q)
- Free Birds (Q)
- Frozen (Q*)
- The Legend of Sarila
- A Letter to Momo
- Monsters University (Q)
- Planes (Q)
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part III: The Rebellion Story (Q*)
- Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury
- The Smurfs 2 (Q)
- Turbo (Q)
- The Wind Rises (Q)
Under the Academy’s rules for the category, a film must have a running time of at least 40 minutes, a significant number of the characters must be animated, and at least 75% of the film must feature animation. Thus, as far as I am aware, all of these films qualify, even the partially-live-action The Smurfs 2. So the only question concerning eligibility is the Los Angeles qualifying run.
The Academy requires there to be at least 8 qualified films in order for the award to be given out. If there are at least 8, but fewer than 16, there will be three nominees. If there are more than 16, there will be five nominees. There are (as of November 10th) 11 qualified nominees, with 3 that have their qualifying runs already scheduled. We can almost certainly count on Frozen making it, and Puella… is pretty clearly set for December 3rd in the L.A. area. Ernest and Celestine is a little more uncertain; it’s listed as having a Dec. 6 release date in the U.S., but checking elsewhere, that doesn’t seem to be a wide release, and it doesn’t say if that limited release is in L.A. Fandango says it’s in New York, so that film may not make it. Fandango also indicates a limited Dec. 6 release for Khumba, without specifying where.
So right now there are enough qualified films to have the category (as there has been since its inception, and probably always will be). But there aren’t enough qualified films to field five nominees, and there won’t be unless some of these films that currently aren’t showing any sign of having that critical release hurry up and get it done in the next few weeks.
A Letter to Momo is an interesting case, as it was originally released at film festivals in 2011, then in Japan in 2012. It hasn’t had a wide U.S. release yet, and as far as I can tell hasn’t had its qualifying run in Los Angeles. It’s had two limited U.S. releases; one this year in Portland, and one in 2012. The location on that one isn’t specified on IMDb, but presumably it wasn’t L.A. or it would have been qualified for the Awards for 2012’s films. If they don’t get it on the docket by the end of this year, it could conceivably come around again next year….
If we’re looking at a field of three, and I think right now we should probably bet on that, then it’s going to be dominated by Disney/Pixar again. Monsters University and Frozen are both pretty solid locks for nominations, I suspect. After that, I’d say it’s probably a toss-up between Despicable Me 2 and Hiyao Miyazaki’s final film, The Wind Rises; my money is on the latter. I’ll note that my speculations aren’t based on my own perceptions of the films; many of these aren’t even out quite yet. It’s what I anticipate Academy voters thinking of them. Disney and Pixar are almost always nominated. Pixar has had only one film passed up for nomination since the Award was added (Cars 2); Monsters University doesn’t have the dire critical reputation Cars 2 does, so it’s probably a lock. Disney seems to be more of a 50/50 proposition looking at past films, but it’s difficult to see Frozen getting passed over in a year that is fairly weak in mainstream U.S. animated films. Unless it absolutely bombs or something, which is technically still possible. Still, I’m looking at most of the other potentials, and most of them have had “OK” receptions at best. That’s why I suspect The Wind Rises will take the third slot; Miyazaki’s work has been in the mix before (Spirited Away won in 2002), and it’s his final film, and reportedly quite good. The Academy members might very well want to favor it.
Pretty much anything else is a dark horse candidate at best, but if we do somehow see 16 films squeak in before the deadline, that’ll open things up a bit. I’d still expect foreign films more than local ones, unless they want to give a nod to Epic for looking pretty. Still, despite the general lack of clamor over this year’s potential nominees so far, I’m hoping we do get to see five nominees. I think it’s better for the medium as a whole if there are more nominees rather than fewer.
Plus, if there are five nominees, there’s an outside chance that one of them will be Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie Part III: The Rebellion Story, and I think it would be highly entertaining to watch a presenter try to stumble through that tongue twister.