Friday, February 12, 2021

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Animated Feature 2019

The Contenders:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I Lost My Body
Missing Link
Toy Story 4 (winner)

What’s Missing

Of all the categories, the one where I tend to lag the most is Best Animated Feature. The only one I’ve seen that wasn’t on the nomination list is The Addams Family, which is good enough that I wouldn’t mind seeing it here over at least one of the actual nominees. As for films I probably should watch, Spies in Disguise is probably on that list as is both The LEGO Movie sequel and The Secret Life of Pets 2.

Weeding through the Nominees

5. Of the five nominees, I Lost My Body is still getting a good amount of positive press and reviews. It’s also the one of the five movies that I genuinely disliked. The main character in this is the disembodied hand (it’s not called I Lost My Hand, after all), but the person to whom that hand belongs is terrible. This is a movie that contains a great deal of truly predatory behavior, the sort of stuff that is seen in a film as “romantic” but in real life as deserving of a restraining order. Art or no, this film is filled with dangerous ideas, and not in a good way.

4. So let’s talk about Laika Studios, who tend to make interesting and fun movies. Missing Link, while not as good as ParaNorman or Kubo and the Two Strings (few things are, is still a movie with its heart in the right place. It also shows continuous improvement on their animation. It’s smoother and better than it’s ever been. So why did Missing Link tank the way it did? Too many movies of the same type, perhaps, or just mismarketed, which seems to be Laika’s issue. It’s good. In fact, it’s very good, but it’s not the best of a strong year.

3. Klaus is yet another movie that explores the origin story of Santa Claus. This one is quite a bit darker, though, and takes some liberties with the classic idea of the character. There’s a lot here to genuinely like, including the way that the film handles indigenous people with a great deal of respect. In a lesser year, Klaus would be far higher than third place. In that respect, it’s a testament to just how good the other movies on this list really are that something this good is ranked this low.

2. The makers of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World took some real risks with the third and final installment of the series. The biggest risk was that, unlike a typical trilogy, this ended in ways that were smaller and more intimate than the previous films. Sure, there’s some bombastic action and all, but the final coda is personal and quiet—and is exactly how this should have ended. Sure, this is the least of the three movies in the trilogy, but it’s still very good and I was happy to see it nominated.

My Choice

1. As much as I was angry that Pixar came out with a fourth Toy Story movie, I can’t deny just how good the final installment is. As good as Toy Story 3 was, this one genuinely adds to it, and adds to the characters. It also gives a new ending for many of the characters and brings back old characters in good ways. I was skeptical, and I was wrong—this is far better than it had any right to be. That said, it needs to end here. Toy Story 5 is too many. Pixar needs to know when to quit, and this is when to quit.

Final Analysis


  1. I haven't seen Link or I Lost My Body, yet, so I can't comment on those. As for your top 3, I'd have them in the same order. All of them blew me away to some degree, but TS4 was my clear winner.

    Of the others mentioned, I liked Spies in Disguise much more than I thought I would. The Addams Family and The Secret Life of Pets 2 were both enjoyable, but not world beaters.

    The LEGO Movie 2 seems like one of those movies I like a lot more than anyone else. I'd give it a nod, but I understand the hate it's getting. It's leaned in even more to the meta side of things and often felt like a never-ending string of in-jokes.

    Abominable is another I enjoyed. I might be willing to give it a nod. I also liked Frozen II more than the original, but that's not saying a whole lot. The one I would really nominate is one that has no hope with Oscar since it's a straight-to-home video DC movie - Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans. But I'm just goofy like that.

    1. I agree that The Addams Family probably isn't nomination-worthy, but I liked it a lot more than I did I Lost My Body, which comes with strong creeper vibes.

      Abominable and Frozen II are ones I probably should watch.

  2. Yeah, Oscars got it right though The Lego Movie 2 should've been nominated. Especially with its soundtrack.

    1. I really do need to get around to it one of these days.

  3. I just don't love the Toy Story movies aside from the first one, I however adore the HTTYD franchise and I had that it never won. I really thought Part II should've.

    1. I get that, although I think they've been consistently really good.

      I would have loved for one of the Dragon movies to win. I'd have accepted any of them, honestly--it's a damn good trilogy end to end.

  4. I'm one who also loves The Lego Movie 2. I'm sure it was difficult and risky coming up with a story to follow one of the best animated movies of the past twenty years, but I think they nailed it. And making it into a musical that works? Amazing. A crime it didn't get nominated.

    I also agree that we do not need another Toy Story. I enjoyed, but didn't love TS4, but they got lucky. Stop while you're definitely ahead.

    1. I need to get to LEGO 2, and it's one that I should see. Of course, the first one didn't get nominated, either, and that was a tragic mistake at the very best.

      Toy Story needs to be done.