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2021 Best Animated Feature, Animated Short Oscar Nominations Revealed

 


It's a whole lot later than normal, but the time has come. The annual movie awards season is approaching its climax as the nominations have finally been announced Academy Awards- better known as The Oscars.  In this most unusual of years, The Academy has made temporary changes to the eligibility requirements, to accommodate films that have had their releases switch to a digital release due to cinemas closures. With that said, what were the films that made the cut for Best Animated Feature this year?

The conversation around the category this year has concentrated on two films, both of which have made the list as expected. The first of the two is Pete Docter and Kemp Powers' Soul.  The Pixar film had already won numerous awards and nominations and is by some margin the most awarded animated film release of 2020. The rules of probability and the history of the category would have to make it the favourite, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Pixar add another Oscar to their growing pile.

The second is Cartoon Saloon's Wolfwalkers, which has been the season's most successful independently produced animated feature. (That is if you can really count a film made with backing from Apple to be independent). This nomination continues an incredible unbroken streak for the Irish studio- this marks their fourth nomination in the category and the third for director Tomm Moore. For co-director Ross Stewart it will be the first. Could this finally be the year they turn the nomination into a win? Wolfwalkers is widely considered to be their best film to date and with the added power of Apple able to campaign for them, this is certainly their best chance. Either way, it's another impressive feather in Cartoon Saloon's cap.

Pixar have a second film in the running, and Dan Scanlon's suburban fantasy Onward is also nominated.  Onward hasn't received as many nominations as its stablemate, but it still has a decent shot just by being a Pixar film. Could the two films cancel out each other's votes and allow Wolfwalkers or another film to win? It's possible.

Also nominated was Netflix and Pearl Studio's Over The Moon. The film is notable for being the directorial debut of animation legend Glen Keane. This fact probably won't mean as much to the rank and file Oscar voter outside the Animation Branch, but the film's wonderful character animation and stirring songs make it a crowdpleaser.

The remaining film is the big surprise of the year- relatively speaking. Aardman Animation have been nominated several times before (and won several, bother here and in the shorts field), but their newest release A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon has barely been in the awards conversation at all. A 2019 release elsewhere, this was released by Netflix in the US in 2020, and it's a pleasant surprise to see it make the list. It would be a real surprise to see it win, however.

How different would this list have been if 2020 had gone as planned? It's impossible to say, but some major releases such as Disney's Raya And The Last Dragon, Minions 2 and The Mitchells Versus The Machines would have been in the running too. 

The Best Animated Short category was also extremely competitive this year. Pixar's Sparkshorts program produced several shortlisted films, but the only one to make the final nominations is Madeline Sharafian and Michael Capabarat's totally adorable 2D animation Burrow. Shorts in this category are often not yet publically available but you can watch Burrow right now on Disney Plus. Will McCormack and Michael Govier's moving If Anything Happens I Love You,  depicting parent's grief in the wake of a school shooting is also available to watch, as it was picked up by Netflix. This is the streaming giant's first appearance in the shorts race.  Next is French animation Genius Loci from Adrien Merigeau and Amaury Ovise. Merigeau formally worked at Cartoon Saloon, returning home to make his second short.  Erik Oh, meanwhile- nominated for his short Opera- was a former Pixar animator. Icelandic comedy Yes- People, would probably be considered this year's underdog. Gisli Darri Halldorsson and Arnar Gunnarsson is the only nominated film not to have any connection to an established name or individual- it's there purely on its own merits.

Soul has also repeated its success elsewhere, scoring a second nomination, this time in the Best Original Score category for Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste. Reznor and Ross will be competing against themselves, as they also scored David Fincher's Mank, which was also nominated. Soul took its total up to three, also earning a nomination for Sound.

The 93rd Oscars will take place on Sunday, April 25 at 8 PM Eastern, 5 PM Pacific.  See the full list of nominations here.  

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