The Academy of Motion Pictures Art and Sciences has announced the nineteen films that will be considered for the animated feature Academy Award at the 2014 ceremony. Rules indicate that a mandate of sixteen features must be deemed eligible for the award for five features to be eventually nominated for the Oscar. Last year twenty-one films were eligible, and Pixar’s Brave eventually took home the award. This years shortlist includes a wide array of studio blockbusters and independent art house animated features, and is considered to be one of the most open fields in the category’s history.
The eligible films are:
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
- The Croods
- Despicable Me 2
- Ernest and Celestine
- The Fake
- Free Birds
- The Legend of Sarila
- A Letter to Momo
- Monsters University
- O Apóstolo
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie — Rebellion
- Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury
- The Smurfs 2
- The Wind Rises
Pixar, the studio with the highest track record with the Academy is represented again with Monsters University. The original Monsters, Inc. was nominated in the inaugural year of the category in 2002 but lost to DreamWorks’ Shrek; if nominated it would be the third sequel to do so following Shrek 2 and Kung Fu Panda 2, neither of which won. DreamWorks Animation, which won Oscars for Shrek and Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit has two contenders in The Croods and Turbo. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 and Despicable Me 2 both face bigger challenges en route to the Academy Awards, as neither of their predecessors were acknowledged with a nomination despite being huge moneymakers and netting good notices from critics. The wide open status of the category this year comes from a seeming lack of heft from the films that have already been released. No film currently has stood out with unanimous acclaim making this years race interesting in the chance that a smaller film might shake things up when all is said and done. Films like Turbo, Epic and Planes all seemingly came and went from theaters without much ado and big releases Monsters University and Despicable Me 2 seemed to leave fans longing.
Indie distributor GKIDS for instance has had success in years past in getting small foreign animated movies like Chico & Rita, A Cat in Paris and The Secret of the Kells surprise Oscar nominations in the past and may have success with Ernest and Celestine or A Letter to Momo. Legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki is also back with the festival favorite The Wind Rises. His impending retirement coupled with nice notices from his swan song feature may also come through. He’s already the recipient of one Oscar for 2002’s Spirited Away.
Then again, based on the early surge of warm reviews Disney’s upcoming Frozen could walk away with season. The musical fairy tale, set to released this Thanksgiving, is a loose adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen and perfectly set within the Mouse House’s own wheelhouse. Strangely enough, despite its reputation, Disney has never won an animated feature Oscar that wasn’t a Pixar film; all of their in-house productions have left empty handed including last years nominees Wreck-It-Ralph and Frankenweenie.
Nominations for the 86th Annual Academy Awards will be announced January 16, 2014.