Friday, January 5, 2024

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Animated Feature 2022

The Contenders:

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (winner)
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
The Sea Beast
Turning Red

What’s Missing

Animated films aren’t really a go-to for me in general, so I don’t tend to watch a lot of them outside of the nominations. This year, I managed four extras from the five nominations. Strange World is one that I think was properly not nominated. It’s not a bad film, but not one worth all of the controversy. Lightyear, also controversial among domestic terrorists, was better, but still not great. I enjoyed Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, and I assume that for a generation younger than I am, it was a fairly nostalgic film, an aspect that passed me by. The big miss for me was Apollo 10 ½, a sort of science fantasy film about the moon landing before the moon landing.

Weeding through the Nominees

5. There was nothing inherently wrong with The Sea Beast, and had it come out a dozen or more years ago, I would have been properly impressed with it. The issue with this film is that I liked it a great deal more when it was called How to Train Your Dragon, and that is a serious disappointment. This is very much the same film. We have characters who are plagued by monsters they don’t understand until a young member of the group figures something out about them and befriends one of them and must fundamentally change her society. This is NetFlix doing an Asylum film, a true disappointment.

4. Fourth place is probably too low for Turning Red, but I tend to go with my gut on these placements, and of the three movies that I would put in this tier, it’s the one I think I’m the least likely to rewatch. The story is a nice one, and while Disney has plenty of problems, they are doing a nice job with representation in general. The best part of this story isn’t the fact that it’s a girl’s coming-of-age story that isn’t specifically baby-making related, nor the relationships in the film. The best part of Turning Red is main character Mei’s friend, the wildly feral and entertaining Abby. Give her a movie, Disney, and we can talk about moving this up higher.

3. I think this was the first time in my life I have actively rooted against Guillermo del Toro. His version of Pinocchio a very good and interesting movie, and del Toro (of course) is a very talented filmmaker and my current favorite living/working director. He takes this film into the political, which I think works surprisingly well. It’s also a tale that has a good amount of darkness to it normally, and he doesn’t shy away from it. The issue here isn’t the quality of the film but the fact that I genuinely like the other two films better. In many other situations, my heart would go for del Toro’s picture, but in this case, I just can’t.

2. I genuinely thought that Puss in Boots: The Last Wish was going to be a slog and a cash grab, and I am happy to say that it was neither. This is a surprisingly smart movie, one that really understands its characters and has a story that it really wants to tell. The voice works is very good throughout, and the story is shockingly mature for a film based around a swashbuckling cat in pirate boots. Some of this might go over the heads of the target audience, but the parents watching along will be watching a very different movie. Some of the animation bothers me, though, and while I like it, it’s not the best of its year.

My Choice

1. The only possible winner for me is Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, a rare film that would make the entire world better if everyone could see it. A cute idea played out to a logical conclusion, feature just a few characters, all of whom are memorable, none more so than the delightful title character, voiced by Jenny Slate. I loved this movie when I first saw it in theaters during its original run—one of the few movies that has gotten me to sit in a theater in the last few years—and I loved it just as much on a rewatch. It holds up, and maybe even gets a little better the more you see it. Hunt it down; pay to see it. It’s worth it and worth more.

Final Analysis


  1. I've only see 2 of the films that were nominated in Turning Red and Pinocchio as I really loved the latter a lot though I would've had no problem with the former winning. I wouldn't say the Oscars got it wrong but rather it was a tough call.

  2. The Puss in Boots sequel is unexpectedly good, but Marcel is one of my favorite movies of the last 10 years.