It’s been a sadly weak year for one of my favorite genres. That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed some features this year, but it also feels…underwhelming? There are still films to check out, and that’s why we’re beginning the discussion for Best Animated Feature today. Another trailer dropped for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, an animated tale that will bring Miles Morales into the lexicon. Many of us know Peter Parker; the name is transcendent in a way that only Bruce Wayne can claim.
With Lord & Miller back to help usher in a new innovative animation style, comedy, and a fully diverse group of Spider-Men, we might actually have a film set to shake up the comic book movie world. With Marvel Animation and Marvel Entertainment helping the film as producers, this might technically be the first Oscar win for the superhero comic company. Either this or Black Panther anyway.
Check out the new trailer below!
Without further ado, our first ranking of the Animated Features of 2018!
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Columbia Pictures) – Dir. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey & Rodney Rothman
2. Isle of Dogs (Fox Searchlight Pictures) – Dir. Wes Anderson (PODCAST REVIEW HERE)
4. Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-it Ralph 2 (Walt Disney Animation Studios) – Dir. Rich Moore
Listen, I’ve been telling people I’m in the bag for this new Spider-Man film, but here are some genuine reasons why the upset can happen. First, I don’t know how the Academy will receive The Incredibles 2 or Ralph Breaks the Internet. Since the Best Animated Feature category began in 2001, the two sequels to win the Oscar are Toy Story 3 and you can argue Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Dreamworks got kicked in the mouth when Kung Fu Panda 2 and How to Train Your Dragon 2 both lost, despite likely being the strongest films of the category. Many others, including Monsters University, Cars 2 & Cars 3, and Despicable Me 3 all missed nominations. This hurts Wreck-it Ralph and The Incredibles.
Second, Isle of Dogs features an auteur and an opportunity to reward him. Wes Anderson continues to be Oscar-less despite six nominations to date. SIX! So this features an opportune chance to reward him. There’s even precedence for this with George Miller, director of Mad Max, Babe, and Lorenzo’s Oil winning his Oscar for directing Happy Feet. Brad Bird (the director of The Incredibles 2) already has two Oscars in this category and Rich Moore (director of Wreck-it Ralph) has one as well for Zootopia. Why do they need more when Anderson has zero?
However, Isle of Dogs is good, but not great. It’s got weaker reviews than The Incredibles 2. This might hurt its chances. So this leaves a visually innovative, big-budget superhero film with a diverse cast. If only there was precedence for this from a Disney-owned property before…
The Bubble Nominees
5. Lu Over the Wall (GKIDS) – Dir. Masaaki Yuasa (REVIEW)
6. Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation (Columbia Pictures)- Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky
7. Mirai (GKIDS) – Dir. Mamoru Hosoda
8. MFKZ (GKIDS) – Dir. Shôjirô Nishimi & Guillaume Renard
9. Smallfoot (Warner Bros.) – Dir. Karey Kirkpatrick & Jason Reisig (co-director)
This group of films is made up the GKIDS contenders that seem to be fighting for a single spot, as well as a pair of studio films. Smallfoot and Hotel Transylvania 3 both have their proponents. Both of these films have stronger reviews than Boss Baby, a nominee last year, so don’t count them out. Hotel Transylvania also has the extra push because of its director, Genndy Tartakovsky. Tartakovsky is an animation legend, directing Star Wars: Clone Wars, Samurai Jack, Dexter’s Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls.
However, just as key are the GKIDs films. The independent and foreign film provider has been deadly efficient in the past decade. They’ve grabbed 7 nominations in the category in the past five years, at least one every year. The only other studio to do that over this time? Disney (also has 7). I’m currently predicting Lu Over the Wall, one part The Little Mermaid, one part Ghibli film, one part vampire film. Yeah, it’s pretty weird but also extremely cute and easy to connect to. Mirai follows a more traditional anime style nominee and MFKZ might be too confrontational get the nod. Plus, Lu Over the Wall is so family friendly, it’s been playing at film festivals across the country since at least April.
Still in the Hunt
10. Tito and the Birds – (Shout!) Dir. Gabriel Bitar, André Catoto & Gustavo Steinberg
11. The Grinch (Illumination Animation) – Dir. Yarrow Cheney & Scott Mosier
12. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (Warner Bros.) – Dir. Aaron Horvath & Peter Rida Michail (REVIEW)
13. The Night is Short, Walk On Girl (GKIDS) – Dir. Masaaki Yuasa (REVIEW)
14. Early Man (Lionsgate/Aardman) – Dir. Nick Park
15. Fireworks (Shout! Factory) Dir. Akiyuki Shimbô & Nobuyuki Takeuchi (co-director)
This group features more GKIDS, some Shout! contenders, and also some big productions. The Grinch will be the big one, but it doesn’t feel particularly strong. The only Illumination nominee to date is Despicable Me 2, but that was also guaranteed a 2nd nomination for “Happy” for that one. Meanwhile, Teen Titans Go! To the Movies is good enough, I just doubt the voters will watch it.
The Night is Short is not a particularly kids friendly film, and GKIDS can still push Yuasa with Lu Over the Wall. Yes, it’s shockingly the same director. Fireworks and Tito both have the pedigree, but I’m unsure about Shout! as a distributor. So until I see them take home some prizes, we’re keeping them down. Early Man feels like it’s already out, but Aardman has nominations to its name as recently as 2015. Maybe that helps?