2014-contenders 2014-contenders
Award Season Focus

Early Look at 2014 Feature Film Award Contenders


With eight months of the year nearly passed, we’re beginning to get a clearer sense of who the major contenders will be in the upcoming award season. On the one hand, it’s been a slow year for animation with no new releases from Pixar, Illumination, or Sony Pictures Animation. On the other hand, there’s been increased attention for relatively quirky releases from major studios, such as The LEGO Movie, The Boxtrolls, and The Book of Life.

It’s premature to make any predictions on who will be nominated for an Annie, Golden Globe or Oscar. But it’s not too difficult to single out the major studio contenders at this point. In alphabetical order, they are:

  • Big Hero 6 (Disney)
  • The Book of Life (Reel FX/Fox)
  • The Boxtrolls (Laika/Focus Features)
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 (DreamWorks/Fox)
  • The LEGO Movie (Animal Logic/Warner Bros.)
  • Song of the Sea (Cartoon Saloon/GKIDS)
  • The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (Studio Ghibli/Toho/GKIDS)

Bear in mind, five of these films haven’t been released in the US yet, and their contending status depends on how well they are received. The only two clear contenders on the list are How to Train Your Dragon 2 and The LEGO Movie, both of which received high marks from critics and audiences.

Beyond these major contenders, there are numerous other films that look likely to qualify. Here are eleven more releases that will likely be considered during awards season:

  • The Boy and the World
  • Cheatin’
  • Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart
  • The Penguins of Madagascar
  • Rio 2
  • Rocks in My Pockets
  • Tante Hilda
  • Tarzan 3D
  • Thunder and The House of Magic
  • Underdogs
  • Until Sbornia Do Us Part

The lists above are intended to provide a preliminary look at the 2014 feature animation award contenders. Don’t be surprised if other great animated films pop up between now and the beginning of award season. Overall, it’s been a solid year for feature animation with unique American contenders and equally strong international and indie efforts. With no solid frontrunner, like last year’s Frozen domination, the competition promises to become more intense in the months to come, drawing increased attention to some very worthy films.

  • Munir Abedrabbo

    You forgot Mr. Peabody & Sherman, a good film that sadly, was not successful at the BO despite solid reviews.

    • Cyrus Vba

      It wasn’t a good film by any means. Lots of toilet humor and inconsistent characterization don’t make a good movie

      • starss

        Other than one masturbation joke that flies over kids’ heads, where exactly was there toilet humor in Mr. Peabody and Sherman??

        • fried

          Sherman said “butt” twice or so. Didn’t you know? Just saying the word butt is toilet humor now!

          I guess that means Finding Nemo is terrible because it had a “toilet humor” as well (When the pelican was framed for farting, when the blowfish burped, and when the clean fish almost said ‘shit’).

          • starss

            So? Saying butt is barely a joke.

            … fyi, In the audio commentary, Andrew Stanton said he was reluctant to include even ONE toilet joke in the movie but said that this was simply inevitable.

          • tt

            you forgot the obvious………the iconic “HE TOUCHED THE BUTT!”

      • tt

        I think it was decent. the historical references made it for me…
        but considering the extreme qualities of Lego Movie and Dragon 2, it doesn’t matter if its nominated, it will lose.

      • Gerard McGrory

        That’s what would pretty much describe The Nut Job (that’s up there with Legends of Oz and Planes: F&R as the three worst animated films of the year) better.

    • John

      Not successful at the body odour?

    • yikes

      no joke, i totally forgot that movie even came out. wow

  • Toonio

    This is simple, as the academy ignores every piece of animation gold Laika throws at them, Laika has no contest.

    Despite of the resumes of those at the top of Reel FX, they still lack any Hollywood cred and advertising $$$ to be taken seriously, so they are out.

    Dreamworks, despite of some amazing animation sequences, they pooped the bed with Dragon 2.

    Ghibli, animation craftsmanship with no mainstream approach at all? pass!

    Lego movie, a feature that brings animation back to its roots with a goofy and entertaining tone? Nope! the academy only praises tragedy, hardship and stories that make you feel guilty for whatever reason and for things that are way in the past now.

    And by elimination and some ridiculous reason, Disney gets the award.

    So there, I saved you from wasting your time, so go and hit the mountains or something during awards season. They mean nothing at the end.

    • starss

      We know the Academy’s results don’t matter in the long scheme of things, but sarcasm isn’t the first thing anyone wants to be greeted with after waking up.

    • JodyMorgan got this right. And to your “the academy ignores every piece of animation gold Laika throws at them.” Laika has been nominated for every feature they have released, that’s hardly being ignored. Maybe they deserved to win, but that’s too subjective. And you make it sound like Disney always wins, they won last year for the first time (Pixar doesn’t count, it’s a separate studio). There is no great conspiracy to keep small studios out of the competition, the Academy members (I’m one) now get videos of all nominees to watch, that includes small and international films.

    • Say what?

      The resume’s of those at the top of RFX? LOL, who would that be? Don’t confuse names that are attached to one project with the clowns who run that circus. My guess is the ‘contenders list’ is the closest they will get to an actual nomination.

      • hmm… Funny how everybody had this opinion until Book of Life was released. Just retrospective.

  • DangerMaus

    I’m putting my bet on “The Lego Movie” taking the top spot this year. That is the most predictable route these award shows would go. And most of these awards are nothing if not predictable.

  • Alex Dudley

    Those four films in the pic, plus Big Hero 6 are making the Golden Globe or Oscar noms. Calling it now.
    Depending on how well received BoxTrolls or The Book of Life are, a foreign film will slip in and take their place (that won’t win anyway).

  • JodyMorgan

    With so many of the potential nominees yet to be released, it’s too early to do much prognostication; at this point, all I’m comfortable saying is that Rio 2 and Mr. Peabody and Sherman won’t be nominated, The LEGO Movie and How to Train Your Dragon 2 will, and at this point HtTYD2 is probably the movie to beat for the award.

  • Cyrus Vba

    Lego Movie felt like a generic “believe in yourself” flick.

    Judging by Laika’s previous works, Boxtrolls will probably be amazing.

    Haven’t seen HTTYD 2 yet, but first one sucked

    Song of the Sea is another great contender, probably on par with Laika

    Big Hero 6 looks like cape garbage featuring Elsa and Rapunzel as main female protagonists

    • starss

      – The LEGO Movie was excellent because it parodies “believe in yourself” flicks. I am appalled how no one gets satire these days!

      – HTTYD was actually really good!

      – How does Big Hero 6 star Elsa and Rapunzel expies? They look different enough to be different characters. Have you even been watching some of the newer TV spots?

      Seems like you really like the less mainstream studios.

      • Cyrus Vba

        It’s not much about not being mainstream, but more about having some uniqueness. If say Disney releases something on par with Paranorman, I’ll praise it too.

  • ea

    They should just rename “Best Animated Feature” into “Best Family Feature.”

    • Fried

      That would make Dolphin Tale 2 and Muppets eligble for that catergory.

  • Gerard McGrory

    Tarzan 3D???? Oh Heck No!!!!

  • Ravlic

    Hopefully Lego Movie and The Book of Life will show people that you CAN stylize cgi in new ways. Even better, it’s good for the budget.
    Also, I am so hyped up for the Song of the Sea and I hope to god that it does well at the box office.

  • Derreck Garcia

    Well, is there a chance any animated films could possibly get a best picture nod?