With eight months of the year nearly passed, we’re beginning to get a clearer sense of who the major contenders will be in the upcoming award season. On the one hand, it’s been a slow year for animation with no new releases from Pixar, Illumination, or Sony Pictures Animation. On the other hand, there’s been increased attention for relatively quirky releases from major studios, such as The LEGO Movie, The Boxtrolls, and The Book of Life.

It’s premature to make any predictions on who will be nominated for an Annie, Golden Globe or Oscar. But it’s not too difficult to single out the major studio contenders at this point. In alphabetical order, they are:

  • Big Hero 6 (Disney)
  • The Book of Life (Reel FX/Fox)
  • The Boxtrolls (Laika/Focus Features)
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 (DreamWorks/Fox)
  • The LEGO Movie (Animal Logic/Warner Bros.)
  • Song of the Sea (Cartoon Saloon/GKIDS)
  • The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (Studio Ghibli/Toho/GKIDS)

Bear in mind, five of these films haven’t been released in the US yet, and their contending status depends on how well they are received. The only two clear contenders on the list are How to Train Your Dragon 2 and The LEGO Movie, both of which received high marks from critics and audiences.

Beyond these major contenders, there are numerous other films that look likely to qualify. Here are eleven more releases that will likely be considered during awards season:

  • The Boy and the World
  • Cheatin’
  • Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart
  • The Penguins of Madagascar
  • Rio 2
  • Rocks in My Pockets
  • Tante Hilda
  • Tarzan 3D
  • Thunder and The House of Magic
  • Underdogs
  • Until Sbornia Do Us Part

The lists above are intended to provide a preliminary look at the 2014 feature animation award contenders. Don’t be surprised if other great animated films pop up between now and the beginning of award season. Overall, it’s been a solid year for feature animation with unique American contenders and equally strong international and indie efforts. With no solid frontrunner, like last year’s Frozen domination, the competition promises to become more intense in the months to come, drawing increased attention to some very worthy films.

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