Thursday, November 7, 2013

2014 Animated Films Oscar

A Wide-Open Field for the Animated Film Oscar

Nineteen animated films have been submitted for consideration to the Academy for consideration at the 86th Academy Awards. One of the films below, "Ernest and Celestine," already won the French César Award for Best Animated Film, so there is even some healthy foreign competition for a change (not to mention "The Wind Rises" from the master, Hayao Miyazaki).

Last year, "Brave" won the award in a fairly uncompetitive field. "Brave" was a fine animated film and has many adoring fans who like its uncompromising, spunky heroine. Let's face it, though, "Brave" is unlikely to enter the animated-film lexicon in the same way as, say, "Peter Pan," "Alice in Wonderland" or "The Little Mermaid." It was a film about a girl who changes her mother into a bear - not exactly the stuff dreams are made of for the average, um, bear.

This year's award, however, will really mean something, given the huge number of excellent nominees. The winner may not quite be another "Cinderella," but it likely will penetrate deeper into the public's consciousness than did "Brave."

The field will be narrowed down to five animated feature films on January 16, 2014. One of those films will win the Oscar on March 2, 2014. That ceremony will be hosted by Ellen Degeneres, which is interesting because her upcoming animated film, the "Finding Nemo" sequel, could itself be nominated when it comes out.

Anyway, here are the names that have been submitted:
Since Pixar is not releasing any films in 2014 for the first time in quite a while, next year's awards field is likely to be dull, as was last year's. However, the choice between "Frozen," "The Wind Rises" and "Monsters University," with the French "Ernestine and Celestine" a huge wildcard, is very tough.

I think we can safely rule out "Planes," "The Smurfs 2" and "Epic." They were all good enough, but they didn't generate the kind of buzz that usually results in Oscars. On the other hand, the real contenders are "Frozen," "Monsters University," and "Ernestine and Celestine." "Despicable Me 2" and "The Croods" have at best outside shots, as they were beloved themselves and all that, but didn't break much new animated film ground. "The Wind Rises" is a sentimental favorite, but I have a hard time seeing the Academy voting to reward a film about the fellow who designed the Japanese Zero fighter plane.

The smart money is on "Frozen," even though at the time of this writing it hasn't even come out yet. The hype for this Disney animated feature is just unbelievable, and Disney is set to add not one, but two characters from it to its Princess line in 2014. Disney itself (not the Pixar subsidiary) hasn't won in a while, got robbed over last year's overlooked "Wreck-It Ralph," and quite frankly is due. I think we can safely say that "Frozen" may or may not be the best film of 2013, but it is pretty darn close to being too big to fail.