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'The Boy and the Heron,' 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse' 'The Boy and the Heron,' 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse'

History was made in the U.K. over the weekend as Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron became the first non-American film to win the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for best animated feature. The award has been around since 2006.

Studio Ghibli’s latest was up against stiff competition at this year’s BAFTAs, including its awards-season rival Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, hometown favorite Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget, and Pixar’s Elemental.

Heron’s win makes an already hard-to-call Oscars race feel all the more competetive, especially since the day before the BAFTAs, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse won seven Annie awards including best animated feature.

In addition to the animated feature BAFTA, The Boy and the Heron took top honors at the Golden Globes, NY Films Critics Circle, and the LA Film Critics Awards. Before scoring the Annie feature award, Across the Spider-Verse won the best animated feature award at the Critics Choice Awards.

If The Boy and the Heron were to win this year’s animated feature Oscar, it would be the first non-American film to do so since Aardman’s Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit in 2005. The only other non-U.S. film to win the prize was Miyazaki’s Spirited Away in 2002, one year after the category was introduced.

This year’s BAFTA British Short Animation prize went to Crab Day, directed by Ross Stringer and written by Aleksandra Sykulak. The film previously screened in competition at Fantoche and won the London International Animation Festival’s best British film award. The hand-drawn 2d short is a surprisingly cute coming-of-age story about a young boy who must kill his first crab to prove he’s a man and win his father’s approval.

One of the ceremony’s big surprises came when the best special effects prize went to Simon Hughes for his work on Yorgos Lanthimos’s Poor Things, an indie feature with a total budget of $35 million. The film was facing off against a cg-heavy sci-fi film that cost more than twice as much to make in The Creator ($80 million budget), and three Hollywood giants in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ($250 million), Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One ($291 million), and Napoleon ($200 million). It seems likely that most of those films spent more than The Creator’s full budget on special effects alone.

Here are this year’s animation and vfx BAFTA winners.

Animated Film
  • The Boy and the Heron – Hayao Miyazaki, Toshio Suzuki (WINNER)
  • Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget – Sam Fell, Leyla Hobart, Steve Pegram
  • Elemental – Peter Sohn, Denise Ream
  • Spider-man: Across the Spider-Verse – Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson, Avi Arad, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Amy Pascal, Christina Steinberg
British Short Animation
  • Crab Day – Ross Stringer, Bartosz Stanislawek, Aleksandra Sykulak (WINNER)
  • Visible Mending – Samantha Moore, Tilley Bancroft
  • Wild Summon – Karni Arieli, Saul Freed, Jay Woolley
Special Visual Effects
  • The Creator – Jonathan Bullock, Charmaine Chan, Ian Comley, Jay Cooper
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 – Theo Bialek, Stephane Ceretti, Alexis Wajsbrot, Guy Williams
  • Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One – Neil Corbould, Simone Coco, Jeff Sutherland, Alex Wuttke
  • Napoleon – Henry Badgett, Neil Corbould, Charley Henley, Luc-Ewen Martin-Fenouillet
  • Poor Things – Simon Hughes