2022 should be the year where Netflix makes significant waves in the Best Animated Feature category at the Oscars and Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is its lead off hitter. The acclaimed filmmaker’s stop-motion passion project is out in select theaters next month with a streaming release on December 9th. Receiving a first look today at the London Film Festival, Pinocchio arrives a half decade after del Toro’s The Shape of Water took Best Picture (along with a directorial victory) and one year after his follow-up Nightmare Alley made the BP ten. Actors providing voiceovers include Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, Gregory Mann, Finn Wolfhard, Cate Blanchett, John Turturro, Ron Perlman, Tim Blake Nelson, Burn Gorman, Christoph Waltz, and Tilda Swinton.
Since I added Animated Feature in my predictions a few weeks back, I’ve had del Toro’s tale of the iconic puppet turned real boy listed in first place. Part of that is due to its maker’s track record. That’s not the only reason why. The other is that it might be a rare off year for Disney, who have taken the gold statue 15 out of 21 times. This summer’s Lightyear was a high profile flop that is likely to be omitted from the final five altogether. Turning Red from the spring achieved solid enough notices to make the cut, but I certainly don’t see it as an automatic winner. The Mouse Factory still has next month’s Strange World in their arsenal so we’ll see if that emerges as a major threat.
Several critics from the London screenings are proclaiming this Pinocchio to be great or near great. On the other hand, some reviews aren’t quite as effusive. I do think the early word-of-mouth is enough to take comfort in the #1 ranking. Yet I wouldn’t say it’s a slam dunk pick to take gold like, say, 2020’s Soul was. I would also keep an eye on Original Score with Alexandre Desplat composing. Visual Effects is also doable (if perhaps a stretch).
A nomination seems assured and Netflix could hold 60% of the nominees this year. Wendell and Wild, another upcoming stop-motion pic from Henry Selick, should get in. Either The Sea Beast or My Father’s Dragon could as well (though probably not both). The streamer got their first contender in 2019 with Klaus and then Over the Moon in 2020 and The Mitchells vs. the Machines last year. They’re 0 for 3 in wins. That may change with del Toro in the company mix. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…