Every year the Oscars pays tribute to the many talents of those involved with animated movies, with the winner of the category almost always going on to become a widely accepted classic of the genre. In 2019, five of the most worthy titles to grace our cinema screens over the last twelve months battle it out for the top prize. The heavy hitters Disney and Pixar return to take on the eccentric animation style of Wes Anderson, the traditional style of Japan’s Mamoru Hosoda and the groundbreaking animation from the team of Sony and Marvel. There are some big titles in the running this year, so who are our contenders? What makes them stand out from the crowd? We’ve got all the information you need in this: the animation race 2019.
Directed By: Brad Bird
Incredibles 2 was the latest release from the animation powerhouse Pixar, which brought us a sequel that was fourteen years in the making. Incredibles 2 begins in exactly the same spot that we left the Parr family in fourteen years ago. While we still get the traditional superhero story, it also delves in to the family dynamic that made the first film so relatable. The story is fuelled by the fact that super heroism has been made illegal and Elastigirl has been chosen by a millionaire mogul to help the general public to become more accepting of the ‘supers’ and their special abilities. As a result of this, Mr Incredible has to adapt to domestic life just at the point when Violet is struggling with being a teenage girl, Jack-Jack is discovering his powers and Dash is being his usual self. With some help from Edna, watching the transformation from Superhero to stay at home Dad is hilarious. It is undoubtedly Jack-Jack who steals the show, every scene he’s in is incredibly entertaining. As always, Pixar knocks it out of the park with its animation, the aesthetics and the technical aspects are just what you would expect from the masters of the medium. Above all, this film is nostalgic – as mentioned, fourteen years has passed since the first film, so getting to see and fall in love with the characters all over again is (no pun intended) incredible.
Isle Of Dogs
Directed By: Wes Anderson
While Wes Anderson is known for his eccentric and whimsical style in all of his films, this is only the second time (following Fantastic Mr. Fox, also nominated for an Oscar in 2010) that we have seen a feature length animation from the director. The story is a simple one: after a case of dog flu breaks out in the Japanese city of Megasaki, the Mayor banishes all dogs to Trash Island. In pursuit of his lost dog Spots, a young boy accepts the help of 5 dogs who live on the island and the film follows their adventure and the obstacles they encounter along the way. Isle Of Dogs has that distinctive Wes Anderson stop motion animation style and a voice acting cast to be envious of (Bryan Cranston, Bill Murray, Jeff Golblum, Greta Gerwig, Scarlett Johanson and Francis McDormand to name a few). The fact that it is an animated film should not make you think that is any less of a Wes Anderson classic, all the characters are deeply developed, the use of a consistent colour theme and very obvious symmetry that are synonymous with the director are still very prominent. Isle Of Dogs, out of the five nominated for best animated feature, is the one to watch if you want something very different out of your animated film viewing – it is quirky and extremely stylised, making it stand out from more traditional hand-drawn animation and computer generated animation that now dominates the genre.
Directed By: Mamoru Hosoda
Mirai is a Japanese fantasy adventure animation from the mind of director Mamoru Hosoda and produced by Studio Chizu, the studio that he himself established. Like much of the animation that comes out of Japan, the animation in Mirai takes on a more traditional form which you may recognise from more popular titles from Studio Ghibli. Not only does it take on traditional Japanese visuals, but the story centres around family and the adventures of children with a little bit of the fantastical thrown in, which are prominent themes in many other Japanese animatied features. Mirai follows the story of a young boy who discovers a magical garden that allows him to travel in time to meet family members in different eras, all while being guided by his younger sister from the future. The film is charming, witty and overall it is fun. This is coupled with its stunning depiction of nature and well crafted characters, making it a great choice if you are looking to dip your toe into the world of Japanese animation.
Ralph Breaks The Internet
Directed By: Phil Johnston & Rich Moore
Did you really think we could have a true animation race without a showing from the biggest contender of them all? Disney brought us another sequel this year with Ralph Breaks The Internet, a follow up to the incredibly underrated Wreck It Ralph, released in 2012. The story once again finds the two friends Venelope and Ralph in a dilemma that leads them to taking a trip into the internet, where of course trouble ensues and only their friendship can help them overcome their obstacles. It is, however, not only the story that makes this film, it is the world that Disney has created. The world of the internet is so cleverly crafted, and the fact that our protagonists go in without a clue what the internet is, something that we the viewer have come so accustomed to, makes the situation so much only more engaging and hilarious to watch. With so many relatable and nostalgic easter eggs to enjoy, including a hilarious encounter with every Disney princess there has ever been (voiced by their original voice actors), Ralph Breaks The Internet is any technology/Disney fan’s dream. Is the film fun and enjoyable? Yes. Does it deserve to win? Probably not – the heavy hitters Disney and Pixar are actually the weakest in the pack this year, mainly for the fact that they have brought us exactly what we have come to expect from the two major studios.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Directed by: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey & Rodney Rothman
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the front runner in this year’s race. It seemed to come so out of left field – Marvel associated animations are always good but rarely are they something that everyone raves about as they did with this release. The story follows teenager Miles who becomes the Spider-Man. He then teams up with his counterparts from other dimensions to take on a common enemy that becomes a threat to all their collective realities. The story is compelling, the characters are well rounded and the action is thrilling. However, it is the animation style that sets this film apart from the rest, the animation is something new and exciting, a style that has never been seen before. The visuals are absolutely enchanting, bright, bold and sophisticated. There is very little to criticise about this film – the combination of the visuals, concepts, soundtrack, characters have made it one of the Marvel greats and something that would have made Stan Lee very proud. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is the number one pick for this year’s awards.
So there you have it, the very best of animated feature film in 2018 as voted on by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Which film do you think will win? Did any great animations get left off the list? Let us know in the comments below!