In the past, I haven’t really covered the Annie Awards in the buildup to the Oscar Blitz. There wasn’t any particular reason why. I love animation more than most, and there’s many a year when I fully advocate for a great animated film to be nominated for Best Picture. I have used the Annie results as an indicator of what will eventually win come Oscar Night, but up until now I hadn’t considered if the nominations could be a bellwether for what the Animation and Short Film Branches will say in making the final list of candidates.
Well that changes today. The nominees for the 48th Annie Awards were released this morning, and there are a LOT of categories. Thankfully, for our purposes, we need only concern ourselves with three, which correspond to the two Oscar categories. There’s the Short Film category and the two Best Feature categories. It used to be just one, but from 2015 the Annies have made the novel decision to divide Best Feature into Mainstream and Independent lists, as Disney and Pixar tend to dominate. There are a bunch of other categories concerning visual effects, TV, digital media, character design, and advertising, all of which are fascinating in their own way, and you can delve into the deeper lists at the official Annies site here. But like I said, for our needs, we can narrow focus considerably.
The film nominees for the 48th Annie Awards are:
Best Indie Feature
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon – Netflix
Calamity Jane (aka Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary) – Limited Virtual Cinemas
On-Gaku: Our Sound – DVD March 9
Ride Your Wave – HBO Max
Wolfwalkers – Apple TV+
Best Short Subject
Filles Bleues, Peur Blanche
The Places Where We Live (Cake)
World of Tomorrow Episode Three: The Absent Destinations of David Prime
So, right off the bat, unfortunately the Short Subject category tells us nothing. None of these five films is even on the Academy’s shortlist. If Anything Happens I Love You and To: Gerard are nominated for editing (the latter also for TV Production Design), and The Snail and the Whale is up for Best Special Production, but apart from that, you won’t find any of the Academy’s 10 shortlisted films anywhere on the Annie radar. Now, perhaps these other nominations will bode well for these three to make the final cut, but I can’t assert with any confidence based on such a stretch. Won’t rule it out, though, it’s the best look we can get.
As for the two Feature categories, we have a much better idea of where the Academy might be heading. I think it’s fairly safe to say that the five Animated Feature nominees will come from this overall list of 10. Since the categories were split in 2015, all five previous winners of Best Indie Feature have gone on to be nominated (Boy and the World, The Red Turtle, The Breadwinner, Mirai, and I Lost My Body). Since the advent of the Animated Feature category at the Oscars, only five times has the Annie winner failed to snag the big prize, and in all those cases, the eventual Oscar winner was nominated against the Annie victor.
The one noticeable absence here is Over the Moon. It’s nominated in six categories at the Annies, but missed out on a Best Feature nod. That puts it squarely on the bubble for an Oscar nomination, but I won’t eliminate it entirely just yet. My gut tells me that Onward, Soul, and Wolfwalkers are locks at this point, with The Croods being nearly a sure thing as well. That leaves one opening, and my guess is that The Willoughbys and Shaun the Sheep will duke it out for that last spot. Over the Moon still has a chance, as do the other four films (just not Trolls, pleas not Trolls), but this definitely gives us a strong idea of whose names will be called in 12 days’ time. The Annies themselves will be handed out on April 16.
Join the conversation in the comments below! Have you seen these nominees? What are your thoughts on animation in general? Will Pixar continue to run roughshod over the competition? Let me know!