Predicting the Nominations for the Best Animated Feature at the 96th Academy Awards

‘tis the season, ladies and gentlemen.

Yes, we know that Christmas is over, but we’re not talking about Santa Claus’s arrival.

We’re talking about the film awards season, typically starting from October to March. During these months, several significant film awards take place.

While each event is crucial in its own right, the Academy Awards take the (sorry, not sorry) award. People wait for it with berated breath, and fans of various movies take to the internet to ensure their picks aren’t snubbed.

Although there are many categories of the Academy Awards, the Best Animated Feature has all our attention. Like the previous years, this year’s lineup is competitive too, and many animated feature films are deserving of that title.

But of the 15 shortlisted films, only five are nominated.

So, which names can we expect to see this year?
Let’s have a rundown.

1- Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Picture Courtesy: Columbia Pictures, Marvel Entertainment, Sony Pictures Animation, Pascal Pictures, Lord Miller Productions, Arad Productions, Sony Pictures Releasing

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse isn’t only expected to make it to the list, but win the prestigious trophy as well. As of writing this blog, the film has won the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards and Golden Globe Awards Best Animated Film and Best Animated Feature Film, respectively, cementing its position as the would-be champion.

Expectations were high from Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, considering the excellent performance of its prequel, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It was one of the best-reviewed films of the year; it even won the 91st Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

To say that Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse exceeded expectations would be an understatement. It has 8.6 ratings on IMDb and grossed almost $700 million.

So, all eyes are on the Sony-produced film to take home the statuette.

2- The Boy and the Heron

Picture Courtesy: Studio Ghibli

The Boy and the Heron had one of the most intriguing marketing campaigns (or the lack of). Prior to the release, no one had a clue about the film’s plot, and it was intentional.

The producer of the film, Toshio Suzuki, opted to ditch the traditional marketing campaign because he believes it “over-reveals the film’s content.” Even the cast and crew of the film were kept under wraps.

But when a name as big as ‘Studio Ghibli’ is attached to a film, it could be about a wheel-chair stricken woman watching paint dry, and people would still turn up to watch it.

That’s what happened with The Boy and the Heron. Made on a budget of $49 million, the film has grossed almost $150 million, earning rave reviews from critics and audiences alike.

At this point, The Boy and the Heron is all but guaranteed to show up on the list.

3- Elemental

Picture Courtesy: Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2023 will go down as one of the worst years for Disney, particularly animated films. The studio that once made billi0n-dollar grossing animated movies has seemed to have lost its magic.

Wish, made on a budget of $200 million, couldn’t even breakthrough, ending its theatrical run with barely $225 million. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case with the studio’s other film – made in collaboration with Pixar – Elemental.

Although initially, Elemental opened to lower projections than expected, the strong word of mouth helped the film reach a few million dollars short of $500 million.

Elemental was a creative challenge, according to the producers. The placement of fire and water at the center of a rom-com was unprecedented for animated films. That’s why it took 7 years and 151,000 computers for this project to be completed.

Since Pixar’s establishment, rarely has the studio’s titles missed being nominated. So, it’s highly unlikely for Elemental not to get a nod.

4- Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget

Picture Courtesy: Aardman Animations, Netflix Animation, Netflix

In 2000, a group of chickens, after going through hell and back, successfully break out of a farm to escape their tragic fate. 23 years later, they’re back for more.

In case you couldn’t connect the dots, we’re talking about the much-adored stop-motion animated film, Chicken Run, and its sequel, Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget.

This time, however, the chickens are back on a larger and more colorful scale, thanks to technological advancement. For instance, while making Chicken Run, animators completed an average of one second per week; this duration was increased to an average of one second per day for the sequel.

Although Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget didn’t fair as well as its predecessor, we’re still hopeful it’ll show up in the final list. That said, it was a pleasant ride on its own.

If not for anything else, we hope for nostalgia’s sake?

5- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem/Nimona/The Super Mario Bros. Movie

While the first four films on this list are all but confirmed (according to us, anyway), the fifth title is nothing short of a wild card entry. There are many contenders, but of course, only one will show up.

The question is, which one will it be?

This could go either way, but we expect one of the following names to make it to the list:

• Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
• Nimona
• The Super Mario Bros. Movie

All three are strong contenders, and it’s super hard for us to root for just one.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem was one of the freshest takes on the crime-fighting turtles; the voice actors fit perfectly, and the animation style was quite unique.

Netflix’s Nimona was a welcome change on what’s it like being a monster. The perfect fusion of humor and heart made the film a beautiful and sentimental journey.

Last but not least, we can’t deny the irresistible charm of The Super Mario Bros. Movie. The fast-paced adventure, starring Mario, Princess Peach, and Luigi, was a wholesome watch for people of all age groups to enjoy.

Dropping the Curtain

With less than a day to go for Oscar nominations, the excitement is building up. The advertising campaigns are in full swing, with studios putting all they got in the hopes of getting their movies nominated.

It’s going to be a tough call for the Best Animated Feature category. Expect to see many snubs and surprises because, with these award shows, you can never be certain.

But we are certain about at least 4 titles that we’ve mentioned. Make sure to check back after the nominations have been announced to see whether we were right (spoiler alert: we will be).