The members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association nominated three Disney animated features for their feature animation category this year, but then they shocked everyone by selecting one of the two non-Disney animated features as their winner.

Laika’s Missing Link won the 2020 Golden Globe for best animated feature film, marking the first time in the company’s history that it has been honored by the Golden Globes (Laika had previously been nominated three times in the category).

It is also the first time that a stop-motion animation film has won a Golden Globe. (Missing Link is technically a stop-motion/cg hybrid as it incorporates plenty of cg in its shots as well).

Both the film’s director, Chris Butler, and producer, Arianne Sutner, were visibly stunned as they came onstage to accept the award, as there had been little prior indication that Laika stood a chance against the one-two punch of the Walt Disney Company’s Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2. It took a few moments for Butler to gather his composure and begin his acceptance speech, which started with, “Well, I’m flabbergasted.” He closed the speech with these words: “I am genuinely shocked.”

As readers of Cartoon Brew know, the chances of a non-Disney film winning a major animation award is rare; the Golden Globes itself gave Disney 10 out of the first 12 awards in its animation category. Last year, Spider-Verse pulled through with a win because it was a genuine phenomenon, but Missing Link didn’t follow the same path to the Golden Globes. It never grew a big fanbase, and at the box office, it was Laika’s worst-performing animated feature to date, earning just $26.2 million worldwide.

Laika’s diminishing grosses have led to persistent rumors about its future, especially after studio CEO Travis Knight made a successful transition to live-action direction with Bumblebee. In this light, the Golden Globe win is a timely and well-deserved recognition of Laika’s unique place in the animation world. It is the rarest of the rare — an independent American producer of technically innovative and original animated films. We hope they’ll continue making these type of films for many years to come.

The Golden Globes are presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a group of around one hundred foreign film journalists who live in the Los Angeles area.

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