Pinocchio; The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse Pinocchio; The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is currently unveiling the winners of this year’s 95th Academy Awards, and all of the animation-related categories have now been announced.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio; The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse; and Avatar: The Way of Water took home trophies for best animated feature, animated short, and visual effects, respectively.

The first award of the evening presented was for animated feature, and compared to last year’s disastrous Disney princess presentation , this year’s announcement offered an olive branch from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who accurately described animation as “the very definition of film”:

In the weeks leading up to this year’s awards, the eventual winners in all three categories began feeling almost inevitable. Pinocchio and Avatar each won stacks of prizes at key critics’ and craft award ceremonies, and The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse strengthened its argument by picking up a BAFTA and an Annie.

Although the eventual winners weren’t necessarily surprising, some intriguing storylines were confirmed when their names were announced. With Pinocchio’s win, Disney failed to score the animated feature trophy for only the third time in 16 years, and more tellingly, the second time in five years.

Pinocchio became just the second stop-motion film ever to win best animated feature; Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was the first to do so when it won in 2005. Stop-motion veteran Mark Gustafon, who directed Pinocchio with del Toro, told the audience, “It’s so good to know that this art form that we love so much – stop motion – is very much alive and well.”

Del Toro added his own commentary on stage, repeating a mantra that he’s been saying all awards season – and which somehow we never get tired of hearing: “Animation is cinema. Animation is not a genre. Animation is ready to be taken to the next step. We are all ready for it. Please help us. Keep animation in the conversation.”

Apple scored its first-ever animation Oscar with The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse, after coming up just short with Cartoon Saloon’s Wolfwalkers in 2021.

The most dramatic category that we covered this year was definitely animated short. Among the nominees, only The Flying Sailor filmmakers Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis had been nominated before, giving the impression that this year’s race was wide open.

Ice Merchants turned heads when it won an award at Cannes Critics’ Week and recently reinforced its case when it took the Annie Award for animated short. For much of the year, especially after winning at Annecy, My Year of Dicks looked like a strong contender. An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It had already won a Student Academy Award back in September. And in the weeks leading up to the Oscars, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse picked up a ton of momentum with Annie and BAFTA award wins.

This year’s visual effects award has felt like a foregone conclusion since it was announced that Avatar: The Way of Water would be released in late 2022. Anything made by James Cameron is likely to feature breathtaking and groundbreaking special effects, and The Way of Water was no exception. And, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the film had one of the largest budgets in cinema history, somewhere between $350 million and $400 million.

2023 Academy Award Winners
Animated Feature
  • Winner: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
    Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson, Gary Ungar, Alex Bulkley
  • Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
    Dean Fleischer Camp, Elisabeth Holm, Andrew Goldman, Carline Kaplan, Paul Mezey
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
    Joel Crawford, Mark Swift
  • The Sea Beast
    Chris Williams, Jed Schlanger
  • Turning Red
    Domee Shi, Lindsey Collins
Animated Short Film
  • Winner: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse
    Charlie Mackesy, Matthew Freud
  • The Flying Sailor
    Amanda Forbis, Wendy Tilby
  • Ice Merchants
    João Gonzalez
  • An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It
    Lachlan Pendragon
  • My Year of Dicks
    Sara Gunnarsdóttir, Pamela Ribon
Visual Effects
  • Winner: Avatar: The Way of Water
    Joe Letteri, Richard Baneham, Eric Saindon, Daniel Barrett
  • All Quiet on the Western Front
    Frank Petzold, Viktor
  • The Batman
    Dan Lemmon, Russel Earl, Anders Langlands, Dominic Tuohy
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
    Geoffrey Baumann, Craig Hammack, R. Christopher White, Dan Sudick
  • Top Gun: Maverick
    Ryan Tudhope, Seth Hill, Bryan Litson, Scott R. Fischer

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