Friday, February 11, 2022

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Animated Feature 2020

The Contenders:

Over the Moon
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
Soul (winner)

What’s Missing

Once again, the plans were to put up Best Adapted Screenplay, but I still haven’t gotten to the final nominee. So, here we are with Best Animated Feature. And, for a wonder, I don’t really have any suggestions beyond the nominees. I don’t typically seek out animated film, and there’s nothing from the year that really looks that interesting to me, including The Croods 2, pictured above. So, I guess we’re stuck with the five we’ve got, at least for now.

Weeding through the Nominees

5. I would love to heap praise on Over the Moon, but it’s clearly the weak link of the five nominees. There’s just so much here that doesn’t work. We have a kid who is smart enough to create a rocket that takes her to the moon, but not smart enough to not believe wholeheartedly in a fairy tale, that somehow turns out to be true. I can’t buy into the base story here, and that’s going to be a problem in moving it beyond the bottom spot. It’s animated well, but the story isn’t that interesting and the characters aren’t that interesting, either.

4. I like Aardman films in general, but there’s not enough here in A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon to make it more than just a short goof. It’s a cute story, and I do like that Oscar is open to including movies that are so clearly designed for younger kids. The animation is top-notch as well. There’s just not much here in terms of story. And while I’m always down for someone other than Disney or Pixar to walk away with a trophy, this outing from Aardman isn’t going to cut it.

3. I knew the minute that I saw Soul that it was going to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. It has everything that Oscar looks for in an animated film, including a Black protagonist who spends a great deal of the film being not Black (yes, I’m going there). It’s fine as a story, but it’s also not nearly as interesting as it wanted to be. And, while this is not specifically the fault of the movie, I don’t like where it lands philosophically. It ticks all of the boxes for Oscar, but it misses a lot of them for me.

2. I liked Pixar’s other outing from 2020, Onward a lot more than I liked Soul. There’s a large gap between second and third place for me on this list, and in a different year I would probably end up with Onward on the top of the list. I like the conceit of this film a great deal. The idea of a world where technology has usurped magic is a fun one, even if I’m of the personal belief that science should triumph over magical thinking. It’s good to look at, too, and the characterizations are fun.

My Choice

1. I’m not shy about my love for the work of Tomm Moore, and this is a trend that continues with Wolfwalkers. Moore’s dedication to 2D animation probably doesn’t earn him a lot of love, but it’s lush in its own way and shows such dedication to animation as an artform. Also going for it is that of the five nominees, Wolfwalkers has the best story and the best mythology. I hope Moore wins an Oscar some day; he deserves it for his body of work. Were it up to me, he’d have several including this one.

Final Analysis


  1. I preferred Wolfwalkers to Soul, too. It seems nowadays the Academy thinks animation can only come in two forms: Pixar and Disney. It really frustrated me when I read, some years ago in the LA Times, a long article describing the viewing and voting of the Academy members, with one old guy admitting he hadn't even seen The Secret of Kells before he voted on best animated film. "I'm not voting for some Chinese (sic) piece of #$%", he was quoted to have said.

    1. I've said it plenty of times before, but it's worth saying once again: these Oscar posts aren't a celebration of these awards, but a reckoning.

  2. I love Soul as it's still my favorite film from 2020 so far but I do have Wolfwalkers in my queue from my Apple TV+ subscription. I need to see Onward as well.

    1. My problem with Soul is philosophical more than anything.