The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) announced its lineup yesterday, and Henry Selick’s Wendell & Wild was the only animated film to make the cut, bolstering its awards season cred.
What makes the film a likely award contender? Wendell & Wild is directed by Henry Selick, who’s stop-motion adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline scored a best animated feature nomination in 2010 and remains a cult classic a dozen years later. Selick co-created Wendell & Wild with Oscar-winning writer and filmmaker Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us), who teams with long-time comedy partner Keegan-Michael Key for the film’s voice cast. And, of course, the best animated feature category is not unfamiliar territory for Netflix. Both Klaus (produced for Netflix by Sergio Pablos Animation) and Jérémy Clapin’s I Lost My Body (acquisition), were nominated in 2020. In 2021, Glen Keane’s Over the Moon was nominated, and just last year Michael Rianda’s The Mitchells vs. the Machines (acquisition) got the nod.
Is there a precedent for Toronto premieres getting Oscar nominations? Cartoon Saloon has had a unique and fruitful relationship with TIFF for years. In 2014, Song of the Sea world premiered at the Canadian festival and went on to an Oscar nom. In 2017, The Breadwinner did the same, as did Wolfwalkers in 2020. Two other films that screened at TIFF in 2021 – Charlotte (world premiere) and Masaaki Yuasa’s Inu-Oh (North American premiere) – are also in awards season contention this season.
What is other media saying? Variety currently has Wendell & Wild in its top five likely contenders to score an Animated Feature nomination. According to the magazine’s senior awards editor Clayton Davis, “Netflix could have the goods this year with Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio and Wendell & Wild from Oscar-winner Jordan Peele and Henry Selick of The Nightmare Before Christmas royalty.” Vanity Fair has also tipped the film as a potential Oscars contender, citing the partnership of Selick and Peele as a key factor in its awards appeal.
When will the rest of us get to see Wendell & Wild? Netflix has announced an October streaming release for the film, but hasn’t revealed the exact date yet. It is perhaps telling that Netflix has not given any indication that Wendell & Wild will see any type of theatrical release, while just last week the streamer confirmed that del Toro’s Pinocchio will see a limited run in November, before hitting the platform in December. Another of Netflix’s key 2022 contenders, Chris williams’ The Sea Beast, was released theatrically in five theaters ahead of its streaming debut.