This morning the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the Oscar nominees for the 87th annual Academy Awards. There are 24 categories, but here at Cartoon Brew, we’re interested primarily in three of them: Animated Feature, Animated Short Film and Visual Effects.

The Academy always throws in a few surprises, and this year had some of the biggest in recent memory for the animation categories. The biggest shocker of all: The LEGO Movie, the best reviewed major American animation release of last year not to mention the highest-grossing domestically, wasn’t even nominated. Many had predicted that the film would win the whole category so it’s lack of a nomination is particularly surprising, but perhaps Academy members felt that the pop culture and toy-oriented nature of the film didn’t reflect the organization’s efforts to honor Art with a capital.

In the original song category, the Academy did honor The LEGO Movie with a nomination for, ironically, “Everything is Awesome.” The film’s co-director Chris Miller tweet this morning in response:

The other surprise animated came in the animated short category: Glen Keane’s directorial debut, which while not necessarily a great film was a great piece of animation, and expected by many to be a nominee.

But the nominees themselves are also quite surprising—and in a good way. GKIDS, the tiny indie New York distributor, repeated their stunning feat from 2012 and had two of their U.S. pick-ups nominated: Cartoon Saloon’s Song of the Sea and Studio Ghibli’s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. Since they landed on the scene in 2009 with an Oscar nomination for Cartoon Saloon’s The Secret of Kells, they’re received six nominations for their animated features, more than any other distributor in that period except for Disney.

Another observation: For the time in twenty years, the majority of the animated short nominees have a woman director (or co-director) at the helm, including, in my opinion, the strongest film in the category, Daisy Jacobs’s mixed-media effort The Bigger Picture.

The visual effects category contained no major surprises or upsets—the three expected contenders in the category—Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Interstellar—were all nominated.

Stay tuned to Cartoon Brew throughout the day for additional coverage and reactions from the nominees. The Oscars will be presented on Sunday, February 22, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

Cartoon Brew extends congratulations to all the nominees!

Best Animated Feature

Big Hero 6
Directors: Don Hall, Chris Williams
Walt Disney Animation Studios/Walt Disney Pictures

Nominee statement from co-director Don Hall, on behalf of co-director Chris Williams and producer Roy Conli
“As kids growing up in Canada and Iowa, Chris and I both dreamt of becoming Disney animators. Never could we have imagined that, one day, we would get to make a film like Big Hero 6, and that one day, the film and all of the talented artists who made it would be recognized by the Academy. Roy, Chris and I are deeply honored by the nomination and thank everyone at Disney Animation who made this possible.”

The Boxtrolls
Directors: Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi
Laika/Focus Features

Nominee statement from co-directors Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable
“One word – HONORED! We are honored and humbled to accept this nomination in recognition of our amazingly talented cast and crew—the artists, actors, craftspeople, and freaks who brought The Boxtrolls to life. We are eternally grateful to them and to our fearless leaders, producers Travis Knight and David Bleiman Ichioka, for making it all possible. Thank you so much, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, for including us in this great list of nominees! We would be thrilled to sit in the dark and clap for any one of them.”

Nominee statement from producer Travis Knight
“What an odd and lovely way to greet the day. I’m overjoyed that the Academy has honored us with this nomination. Cobbled together over well-nigh a decade, The Boxtrolls was a labor of unwavering love crafted one frame at a time by a superb community of actors, artists, mad geniuses, steely-eyed pragmatists, and starry-eyed dreamers. I’m so pleased with the recognition of their artistry. It shows that original stories are valued, along with the weird people who make them.”

How to Train Your Dragon 2
Director: Dean DeBlois
DreamWorks Animation/Fox

Nominee Statement from Director Dean DeBlois
“When you work in animation, a moment like this only comes around about once every four years, and the anticipation leading up to this morning is like Christmas Eve all over again…not being able to sleep, having lucid dreams! And then when you hear your film called out—by JJ Abrams no less—it just doesn’t get any better. Thank you, Academy! I’m so honored to be in the company of such a talented group of nominees and so very proud our entire cast and the over 400 artists at DreamWorks Animation who made all of this possible.”

Nominee statement from producer Bonnie Arnold
“I could not be more thrilled for our artists by this recognition from the Academy and just so proud of our fearless leader, writer / director Dean DeBlois. There is a great line from the script that Cate Blanchett’s character says to Hiccup: ‘You have the heart of a chief and the soul of a dragon.’ The same can be said of our entire cast and crew. They are the soul of this movie and we could not have gotten this far without each and every one of them; they make my job such a pleasure!”

Song of the Sea
Director: Tomm Moore
Cartoon Saloon/GKIDS

Nominee statement from director Tomm Moore
“What an amazing surprise and honour for us all who worked on this film as a labour of love for so many years! The whole crew including all of our coproduction studios is delighted and excited that Song of the Sea will now be discovered by many more people thanks to this very special recognition by our peers in the Academy! We are all so grateful to everyone who made this possible.”

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Director: Isao Takahata
Studio Ghibli/GKIDS

Nominee statement from director Isao Takahata
“We are deeply honored that the Academy has chosen to nominate The Tale of The Princess Kaguya for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the members of the Academy. I thank everyone who has contributed to the film’s success in US as well as those who saw the film and gave it high recognition. I also thank the many people who worked on this film.”

Best Animated Short Film

The Bigger Picture
Daisy Jacobs, director, and Christopher Hees, producer
National Film and Television School

The Dam Keeper
Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi, directors
Tonko House

Nominee Statement from Co-Directors Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi
“On behalf of the crew of The Dam Keeper, thank you to the Academy! Making The Dam Keeper has already been such a rewarding experience. Being nominated is beyond our wildest filmmaking dreams. We are humbled to be in the company of such great films and thankful to be able to share our love for filmmaking with our follow nominees and this amazing community of filmmakers.”

Patrick Osborne, director, and Kristina Reed, producer
Walt Disney Animation Studios

Nominee statement from director Patrick Osborne
“In a year with so many beautiful animated shorts, we are surprised, humbled, thrilled to be included among the nominees by the Academy. Making Feast alongside my favorite artists and best friends at Disney Animation was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is their hard work and talent that made the film what it is and I am so excited to share this nomination with them.”

Me and My Moulton
Torill Kove, director
Mikrofilm in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada

A Single Life
Joris Oprins, director
Job, Joris & Marieke

Best Visual Effects

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist

Guardians of the Galaxy
Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould

Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer

Latest News from Cartoon Brew