coco_filmcritics coco_filmcritics

No Contest This Year: ‘Coco’ Has Emerged As Frontrunner For The Best Animated Feature Oscar

So far this year, 27 out of 31 American film critics’ organizations have named Coco the best animated film of the year.

The near-unanimous support for the Disney-Pixar film is a strong indicator that Coco will win the Academy Award for best animated feature, marking the 10th time in 11 years that a Walt Disney Company animated feature will win the Oscar in the category.

Below is our tracker of animated feature awards that have been handed out this season:

These are the four American organizations that gave their award to an animated film that wasn’t Coco: the New Mexico Film Critics Association (Loving Vincent), Detroit Film Critics Society (The Lego Batman Movie), San Diego Film Critics Society (My Life as a Zucchini), and the L.A. Film Critics Association (The Breadwinner).

The dominance of Coco in a year of incredibly strong and diverse animated filmmaking is perplexing to say the least. Further, the critical consensus that American film critics share for the best animated feature does not exist on the live-action side. These same organizations recognized 11 different live-action features as the best film of the year, with five of them selected by more than one organization.

A clue might be found in the list of animated film nominees for each of these critics’ organizations. While many of them nominated The Breadwinner and Loving Vincent, next to none of the organizations nominated any of the other quality U.S. releases within the past year, such as Ethel & Ernest, In This Corner of the World, The Girl without Hands, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, A Silent Voice, or Window Horses. This homogeneity of nominees among dozens of different groups suggests that the critics in these organizations do not consider – or view – most of the eligible animated films that are released in the United States, instead selecting nominees from a limited pool of wide commercial releases.

Quite simply, the feature animation awards situation in America is a demoralizing annual reminder that animation is not taken seriously as an art form in this country. And as long as these film critics’ organizations do not treat animation with the same thoughtfulness as they do live-action filmmaking, the winners of their awards will continue to reflect their shallow, limited exposure to the art form.

  • The Best Animated Feature Oscar is an absolute joke. Why can’t the award reflect the indie bend of the main Best Feature award? If so, Disney/Pixar wouldn’t have a single Oscar.

    • Inkan1969

      That’s a bit unreasonable a claim to make. What I do wish is for better accessibility of non-mainstream animated features, and I do think some of them would’ve won the Oscar it they had that high profile.

  • Animatedgirl

    In all the times Disney has won Coco is honestly one of the more deserving winners if it wins you need to stop doing this

  • Fried

    It’s only “demoralizing” if you make it out to be. All those animated films manage to exist in spite of award stagnation, which is something to actually be of note in comparison to the way the American industry is right now which is ACTUALLY demoralizing because you simply cannot get an idea off the ground and into production unless its a kids comedy or a raunchy adult comedy. The award is easy to ignore and is just a minor nuisance at best, but actual problems in the industry which prevent us from telling an array of stories in the first place so much so that the only variety we get is if we look overseas is a very real problem that seems way more impactful than The Disney Award Landslide every year. I guarantee you, most people working in studios are not thinking, “Well darn, we’re not gonna win the big award this year” but are thinking more, “I wish I could work on something other than a funny talking animal movie”.

    The entire award is a sham because it puts something like LEGO Batman up against Loving Vincent as if they have any similarity on which to compare one another with. It’s the equivalent of just scrapping every live-action category and pitting 50 films against each up because, “Well, they were all filmed with a camera, right?”.

    Hard truth is that there is no fix and there probably will never be a fix because the judges are typically Hollywood elitists who don’t consider animation to be real films, so why even put value in what they have to say by constantly giving the award attention and merit? Quit giving them attention by going, “The Problem With Award Ceremonies” and keep doing the, “Here are 15 Films That Weren’t Nominated But Should Get Attention Anyway”. Quit telling the awards that they should care and tell the people who do care what else they can watch if they’re interested.

  • Derpy Pirate

    Considering all the other crappy animated films this year, it was barely even a contest.

    • Mysterious Friend X

      All of the other nominees were crappy? Really?

      • Derpy Pirate

        Smurfs, Boss Baby, Emoji Movie, The Star, Ferdinand…

        • Mysterious Friend X

          In This Corner of the World was also a nominee. You can look up on Wikipedia how many awards and nominations it has gotten. A Silent Voice also got some respectable nominations and wins.

  • Fadi Antwan

    What’s perplexing is your blindness to the enormous love audiences and critics have for Coco. It is one of the most beautiful, most emotional animated films ever released and is deserving of every win.

  • William Bradford

    I think I agree OVERALL with the idea the Disney and or Pixar always winning the award is Demoralizing, REGARDLESS of which Disney and or Pixar film is up. There’s no getting around the fact that independent animation needs more attention Oscar voters do not pay Animation enough regard and treat is as seriously.
    NOW I do NOT think Coco is undeserving on this award, it was a strong film with a respect and love for the culture and a wonderful story. HOWEVER even so it’s from a big studio that is, in many ways, doing what we already know it’s good at doing. I still haven’t seen Breadwinners or many other foreign animated films, but I WANT to, and I am certain whether or not they are better then Coco was not a factor in thie awarding.

  • otterhead

    It’s the best animated film released this year, so I don’t see a problem, unless your editorial policy is to paint Disney/Pixar in the worst light possible.

  • Inkan1969

    People complain about Academy voters being unsophisticated and apethic about animation, leading them to just vote for the Disney or Pixar movie. But can you say the same thing about all these other groups?

    • RCooke

      There IS a push within the Academy to have both nominations and final votes for awards voted on by individual branches, except for a singular “Best Picture”–which would be voted on by all Academy members.

  • alsott

    Many people here touting Coco as the only viable winner clearly haven’t seen any of the top other films. Not that I blame them, it’s been terribly hard to find Breadwinner or any non American animated feature film anywhere in the states. And that there is part of the overall problem you’re addressing in this article.

  • JodyMorgan

    Is anyone surprised by this?

    I’d love for more critics, and more film critic organizations, to take animation more seriously and see animated films other than just those released by the major US studios, but I don’t see that change happening any time soon, if at all.

  • Darissa Townes

    Coco having all of the shiny trophies doesn’t mean that films like The Breadwinner automatically suck. It’s just extra icing on the cake.

  • My name is Rio

    The real demoralizing part will come when Lasseter gets awarded as executive producer. Yay Coco!

  • Split Loafer

    I would agree with Coco winning, watching it 3 times in theaters has nothing to do with it. I’d put In this Corner of the World as number 2, Your Name as number 3.

    Did not enjoy either Lego Batman or Loving Vincent or Red Turtle or My Life as a Zuchinni (I watched the last two in theaters this year).

    Haven’t seen The Breadwinner, Cars 3, Captain Underpants, or A Silent Voice. All of these four have screened near where I live.

  • Fluffydips

    You do this every year and Disney Pixar always wins. They are simply popular, and there’s no changing this. Nobody in the awards circle really cares about indie stuff, and they don’t really in live action best picture either. Awards shows and critic circles are shit, and people need to stop getting worked up over them. If you win, that’s great, if you don’t, who cares. It’s all old farts who are out of touch anyway. Just enjoy animation for what it is, and be glad we can keep most of it to ourselves.

    Also, I thought Lego Batman was the best. It was funny, sweet, and didn’t waste my time. It was different than most mainstream animated features and better than the same repetitive shit Disney and Pixar and Illumination put out every year and better than the pretentious indie films I saw.

  • Timmy

    i don’t think you could’ve dropped the mic any harder Amid. hit the nail right on the head!!! I’m sorry, ppl loved coco, yes, it had a sound ending, but no, the production design was not wholly original, more a grander version of Book of Life, and the plot was predictable and linear. Yes it was still a beautiful movie, but in my opinion not the standout best of the year.

    And per Amid’s statistics, it’s not about whether or not Coco is the deserving movie, it’s about the fact that the OTHER equally if not more deserving movies never stood a chance, bc voters just see disney, and don’t bother to watch their other screeners. And YES that is something to complain about, especially as audiences deserve a diverse plate of film… not settling… and yes, we change that by talking about it, so butthurt coco fans can get over it. You’re winning the oscar anyway, so why do you care that ppl want other films to have a fighting chance?

  • UCLA Bruin

    I loved Coco! Go Coco go!!!!!!

  • RhMTeo

    Regardless of winning the contest, we always support the indies :D cause of their cool and unusual stuff that you not normally see in the cinema!

  • ReptilePatrol

    In your criticism of the critics awards (“these organizations do not consider – or view – most of the eligible animated films that are released in the United States”), is it not a bit misleading to conflate Oscar eligibility with awards eligibility in general? Just because a film is Oscar-eligible does not automatically make it eligible for other awards. For example, some critic groups recognized “Zucchini” and “Your Name” this year even though they qualified for Oscars last year — suggesting that GKIDS and Funimation didn’t make the films available for those critic groups last year, like they did for the Oscars. Although the lack of recognition for “Ethel & Ernest,” “Mary,” “Silent Voice,” etc. is regrettable, it may be unfair to expect awards consideration from critics if the films are neither screened nor submitted for their consideration. Perhaps we should be asking why the distributors aren’t doing much more beyond a one week, under-the-radar Oscar-qualifying run in LA.

  • Renard N. Bansale

    I love Coco, nitpicks and all, and I support its victories (especially if Lego Batman is the alternative), but…I do love The Breadwinner, The Girl Without Hands, and especially In This Corner of the World a pinch more. (Was underwhelmed by Loving Vincent’s story, despite the revolutionary animation technique, and I detest Lego Batman with a passion.)

  • Mack

    If nothing else, can we all agree “Remember Me” deserves Best Original Song?