Oscar Predictions: Lightyear

The buzz for Disney/Pixar’s Lightyear is just fine, but it’s not in the stratosphere of some of the studio’s other efforts. The origin story for the co-lead of the Toy Story franchise (voiced by Tim Allen for those four pics and by Chris Evans here) is at 84% on Rotten Tomatoes.

If Onward at 88% or Brave at 78% nabbed nominations in the Best Animated Feature Oscar derby, this should manage to do so as well pretty easily. However, let’s see how the competition plays out in the second half of the season. Pixar’s spring title Turning Red has probably reserved a spot and Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio looms. Other hopefuls include Apollo 10 1/2 and Wendell & Wild. 

In the 22 years of its existence, Pixar has taken home exactly half of the Academy’s animation trophies (with Disney traditional picking up four more). Two of them were the third and fourth Toy Story sagas. The category wasn’t around for parts one and two and I bet both would’ve won. That bodes well for Lightyear though the somewhat mixed chatter could complicate matters. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: The Bad Guys

We’re not yet a third of the way into 2022 and it’s at least feasible that three of the five eventual Best Animated Feature nominees will have been released. DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys opens this Friday and with a 92% Rotten Tomatoes score, it shouldn’t be counted out for inclusion.

It joins the already out Turning Red (Disney) and Apollo 10 1/2 (Netflix) as viable contenders for the prize. None are shoo-in nominees, but all three had their chances assisted today with the announcement that Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has been pushed to 2023.

Bottom line: there’s two-thirds of the year left for other hopefuls to emerge, but The Bad Guys has a fighting shot to make the cut. My Oscar Predictions posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions – Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood

Utilizing similar rotoscoping technology as his earlier animated efforts Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood hits Netflix on Friday after its South by Southwest premiere a couple of weeks back. A coming-of-age tale set during the 1969 Moon landing, early reviews have mostly soared with a 91% Rotten Tomatoes launch.

Linklater is no stranger to the Oscars. He nabbed screenplay nods for Before Sunset and Before Midnight. 2014’s Boyhood was nominated for six categories. Since that effort seven years ago, his follow-ups (Everybody Wants Some!!, Last Flag Flying, Where’d You Go, Bernadette) have all failed to reach the Academy’s radar.

Apollo could change that trajectory with an Animated Feature mention. The critical reaction is strong enough, but let’s see what else lands in the remaining nine months. It’s entirely possible that two of the five eventual contenders (Turning Red and this) are already available for streaming pleasure as of this weekend. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Vivo

While we wait to see whether or not most of the Best Picture contenders truly are viable, the Animated Feature race is already packed with contenders. Vivo is available on Netflix today. The Sony Pictures effort comes from director Kirk DeMicco (best known for making The Croods) and features original songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The voice cast includes Ynairaly Simo, Zoe Saldana, Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, Michael Rooker, Brian Tyree Henry, Nicole Byer, and Gloria Estefan.

The film’s reviews are solid with an 89% Rotten Tomatoes rating. In a lighter year, that might automatically warrant inclusion in the final five. Not so fast in 2021. The list of other hopefuls already released includes Raya and the Last Dragon, Luca, Belle and The Mitchells vs. the Machines (another Netflix title that they should campaign heavily for). Additionally, Miranda has Mouse Factory effort Encanto this autumn which is another likely player. Add to the list the critically acclaimed animated doc Flee and Henry Selick’s Wendell and Wild and Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10 1/2 (also both upcoming from Netflix). So, yeah, it’s crowded.

If Vivo doesn’t make the cut, it could still make a play in Original Song. Estefan has the track “Inside Your Heart”. That particular competition is also expected to have plenty of tracks competing against each other.

Bottom line: there’s a lot of pics and songs in the mix, but Vivo is at least on the radar for attention. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Belle

Three years ago, Mamoru Hosoda’s Mirai scored a nomination in the Best Animated Feature category at the Oscars (ultimately losing to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse). The Japanese director has unveiled his follow-up effort Belle at the Cannes Film Festival (receiving a 14 minute standing ovation) and this looks to be another contender in an already bustling 2021 field.

Critics are praising the visuals of Hosoda’s latest creation and it’s even drawing references to The Matrix for its style. It opens in Japan today with North American distribution anticipated for the fall. As mentioned, we have already seen a handful of serious hopefuls for the Academy to consider. This includes Netflix’s The Mitchells vs. the Machines, Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon and Luca, and another Cannes selection with Where Is Anne Frank. The Mouse Factory also has Encanto later in 2021 while Netflix has Wendell and Wild and Richard Linklater’s Apollo 10 1/2 on deck.

Bottom line: add Belle as one more legit contestant for inclusion. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…