The field of animated features drawing awards voters’ attention is unusually narrow this year.
Five major guild awards have announced nominees in recent days: the Art Directors Guild Awards, Motion Picture Sound Editors’ Golden Reel Awards, Producers Guild Awards, Cinema Audio Society Awards (for sound mixing), and American Cinema Editors’ Eddie Awards.
Remarkably, they have all selected the same five nominees in the animated feature category: Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon and Encanto, Disney/Pixar’s Luca, Netflix/Sony’s The Mitchells vs. the Machines, and Universal/Illumination’s Sing 2.
The other major animated contender this year is the European documentary Flee. While it didn’t get any animation nominations at these guild awards, it is nominated in the documentary category at the Golden Reel Awards, Producers Guild Awards, and Eddie Awards.
Those five studio films are already familiar presences in this awards season. They make up the five nominees for the Annie Awards’ best feature award, as well as in the VES Awards’ best animated feature category. Mitchells and Encanto in particular have also done well at critics’ awards (as has Flee).
Encanto, Flee, Luca, Mitchells, and Raya are also nominated at the Critics Choice Awards. Encanto triumphed at the Golden Globes, where it was up against Flee, Luca, and Raya; the awards diverged from the consensus by nominating European drama My Sunny Maad as well.
Still, the conformity among the guild nominees is striking, even by this year’s standards. Do professionals really think those five films are the year’s most exemplary animated features across a range of disparate crafts? Granted, these bodies vote generally — though not exclusively — for Hollywood films. But what has happened this season to other studio contenders, such as Vivo and The Boss Baby: Family Business, not to mention prestige international features like Belle and The Summit of the Gods?
The Oscar nominees will be announced on February 8. For those films that have yet to build any buzz, the path to a nomination is narrowing fast.
The Art Directors Guild Awards and Eddie Awards will announce winners on March 5, the Golden Reel Awards on March 13, the Cinema Audio Society Awards on March 19, and the Producers Guild Awards on March 24.