Every year the Oscars pays tribute to the many talents involved in the world of Animated Cinema, the winner of the coveted Animated Feature award often going on to be widely renowned as an animated classic. In 2020, five of the most worthy titles of the past twelve months battle it out for the top prize.
Oscars favourites Pixar are once again there as the most experienced in the category to battle it out for the crown, however the absence of Disney Animation’s biggest hit of the year, Frozen 2, has not gone unnoticed.
The early dark horse in this race has been Netflix’s Klaus, though it does have to contend with other heavy hitting animation studios such as Dreamworks, Laika (the creators of former Oscar nominee Kubo and the Two Strings) and Netflix’s other animation entry I Lost My Body, which did well at both the Cannes and Annecy film festivals.
In 2020, it seems to be a pretty even race, so it will interesting to see which film takes the top prize.
Let’s take a closer look at this year’s contenders in the 2020 Animation Race…
How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Director: Dean DeBlois
The second sequel in this year’s Animated Feature category is How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the final chapter in the How To Train Your Dragon franchise that wraps up a complex coming of age story.
When Hiccup discovers that Toothless is not the only dragon of his kind, the race os on to find the ‘Hidden World’, a utopia for dragons, before the tyrant Grimmel does.
Dreamworks brings an emotionally and visually beautiful end to the much loved series. The audience has grown alongside Hiccup and Toothless throughout the trilogy and The Hidden World is the perfect send off for our heroes. Getting to see the characters grow from children to adults over the years brings a true sense of realism to the saga even though it is an animated film series set in a fantasy world with dragons, and that shows just what talent Dreamworks has put behind the project.
Perhaps in any other year How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World might have been the front-runner in this race, but this year it has some tough competition to fight off.
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I Lost My Body
Director: Jeremy Clapin
I Lost My Body is a French animated fantasy drama that debuted at Cannes Film festival in 2019 and was the first animated feature to win the Nespresso Grand Prize. It is also Netflix’s second entrant in this category.
The story is a little bit bizarre. On the surface it’s a story of boy loves girl, but it’s also the story of the boy’s severed hand making its way back to him through a Parisian backdrop.
Leaning towards a more traditional animation style does not mean it is any less impressive than the others. The atmosphere is simple but extremely poetic, showcasing the losses that we all go through in life and exploring how rediscovering the missing parts of us is ultimately the reason we keep on living.
I Lost My Body disproves the assumption that animated films are for children in the most spectacular way, and could very well be the underdog to come out on top in this race.
Directors: Sergio Pablos & Carlos Martinez Lopez
Klaus was one of a myriad of films released by Netflix around the Christmas period, however it was certainly one that stood out from the crowd.
Klaus is the directorial debut for Sergio Pablos and has an incredible voice cast of the likes of Jason Schwartzman and Rashida Jones, as well as J.K Simmons as the title character.
This is certainly a twist on the origin story of Santa Claus and follows the story of a postman stationed on an island in the North who befriends Klaus, a reclusive toymaker. The message of the story is clear, that one act of kindness can often spark another even in a place where feuding locals barely speak to each other.
Klaus is a heartwarming take on the Christmas origin story, filled with emotion and humour, with a message of kindness that really rings true, coupled with some stunning animation that (much like last year’s winner Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse) sets itself apart from the rest.
This is Netflix’s first animation to be nominated for an Academy Award, and it has already won the BAFTA for best animated feature, so expect some high praise for Klaus even if it doesn’t walk out with the trophy.
Director: Chris Butler
Missing Link is another stunning stop-motion animated feature from Laika, the creators of previous Academy Award nominee Kubo and the Two Strings.
It presents the story of Mr Link, a Sasquatch who befriends an English explorer and adventures with him to the Himalayas in search of his Yeti cousins. It is a traditional story of adventures and friendship, with a heartfelt and humorous core.
Missing Link is another contender with an all-star voice cast including Hugh Jackman, David Walliams, Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson and Zach Galifanakis just to name a few. Missing Link lets us celebrate a more traditional style of animation, away from the computer generated films that now dominate the genre. It was awarded the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature and was the first non-computer-generated animated film to win in this category, which certainly increases its chances of taking home the gold come Oscars night.
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Toy Story 4
Director: Josh Cooley
Pixar are no stranger to the awards scene when it comes to animated features, and this year they presented the fourth instalment to one of the most beloved animated franchises of all time, Toy Story.
The entire gang are back, including Tom Hanks and Tim Allen who reprise their roles and Woody and Buzz. We may have felt that Toy Story 3 gave the perfect send off to Woody, Buzz and the gang but this film developed their story that little bit further. We see the characters we know and love set off on a road trip with new owner Bonnie, and a new toy Bonnie has created and loves dearly. When said toy, Forky, gets separated from the group, Woody sets off on a quest to find him and ultimately make sure Bonnie is happy. Along the way, Woody runs into an old friend as well as some hilarious new ones that make him question his place in the world now that he is no longer a part of Andy’s life.
Toy Story 4 is blessed with the stunning visuals that Pixar always deliver, however it has a lot to contend with this year, and this chapter in the story did not quite hit the same highs as its predecessors, and may not quite make it to the finish line first (though never entirely discount Pixar…).
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There are some serious contenders in the Animation Race this year, and it will be interesting who will come out on top. Who do you think will win the Animation Race 2020? Let us know in the comments or tweet us.