The Final Furlong

With nominations announced Jan. 24, the race to the winner’s podium at the 89th annual Academy Awards is ready, set and on the go.

The nominees are in and, unlike previous years, there’s little in the way of surprises in the nominees for the 89th annual Academy Awards.

The five films that made the cut for best animated feature are all solid choices. Kubo and the Two Strings was one of the best-reviewed films of the year, while Disney’s one-two powerhouse punch of Zootopia and Moana was unusually strong, even for them. My Life as a Zucchini has been a strong underdog for a while, but taking the grand prize at Annecy this year shows just how much of an impact the film has on those who see it. And The Red Turtle is a grand arthouse movie that offers the beauty of a Studio Ghibli movie with a story that owes more to European sensibilities than anything it made for founder Hayao Miyazaki.

Left out are two popular and well-liked films from Illumination Entertainment: The Secret Life of Pets and Sing! Also on the outs is Pixar’s Finding Dory, DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls (which earned an original song nomination) and such arthouse entries as Miss Hokusai and Your Name.

The Animated Short Film category is one of the strongest in many years. Theodore Ushev’s Uncle Vaysha has deservedly racked up an impressive number of awards for the acclaimed Canadian filmmaker, while Patrick Osborne — winner in this category for Feast (2014) — is back with a Google Spotlight interactive project, Pearl. Piper is one of the best shorts in recent years from Pixar — giving the studio the nomination it failed to get for Finding Dory — while Pixar alumni Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj branch out on their own with Borrowed Time in much the same way Robert Kondo and Daisuke Tsutsumi did for the Oscar-winning The Dam Killer. And Pear Cider and Cigarettes is a real underdog, coming from a filmmaker who told Animation Magazine, “My films don’t win awards.”

The Visual Effects race is especially notable for the inclusion of Kubo. This is only the second time an animated feature has been nominated in this category; the first was The Nightmare Before Christmas. The Jungle Book is looking to be the 800-pound gorilla in the race, as its effects constituted nearly everything seen on screen and are unquestionably outstanding. And Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has some crowd-pleasing effects calling back to one of the field’s greatest original works. But as last year’s victory for Ex Machina showed, subtlety can impress Oscar voters, which means it’s anyone’s race. That’s good news for Doctor Strange, to be sure.

As for the original song category, the two entries from animated films will have an uphill battle against two songs from La La Land, which with 14 nominations tied the record held jointly by Titanic and All About Eve.

Best animated feature film of the year

Kubo and the Two Strings

Focus Features

Travis Knight and Arianne Sutner

This is the second nomination in this category for Travis Knight, who was nominated for The Boxtrolls (2014). This is the first nomination for Arianne Sutner.

Moana

Walt Disney

John Musker, Ron Clements and Osnat Shurer

This is the second nomination in this category for John Musker, who was nominated for The Princess and the Frog (2009). This is the third nomination in this category for Ron Clements, who was nominated for Treasure Planet (2002) and The Princess and the Frog (2009). This is the first nomination for Osnat Shurer.

My Life as a Zucchini

GKIDS

Claude Barras and Max Karli

This is the first nomination for both.

The Red Turtle

Sony Pictures Classics

Michael Dudok de Wit and Toshio Suzuki

This is the third nomination and the first in this category for Michael Dudok de Wit. He was nominated in the Animated Short Film category for The Monk and the Fish (1994) and won an Oscar for Father and Daughter (2000). This is the second nomination in this category for Toshio Suzuki, who was nominated for The Wind Rises (2013).

Zootopia

Walt Disney

Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Clark Spencer

This is the second nomination in this category for Byron Howard, who was nominated for Bolt (2008). This is the second nomination in this category for Rich Moore, who was nominated for Wreck-It Ralph (2012). This is the first nomination for Clark Spencer.

Best animated short film

Blind Vaysha

A National Film Board of Canada Production

Theodore Ushev

Borrowed Time

A Quorum Films Production

Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj

Pear Cider and Cigarettes

A Massive Swerve Studios and Passion Pictures Animation Production

Robert Valley and Cara Speller

Pearl

A Google Spotlight Stories and Evil Eye Pictures Production

Patrick Osborne

Piper

Disney-Pixar

Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer.

Achievement in visual effects

Deepwater Horizon

Summit Entertainment

Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington and Burt Dalton

Doctor Strange

Walt Disney

Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould

The Jungle Book

Walt Disney

Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon

Kubo and the Two Strings

Focus Features

Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean and Brad Schiff

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Walt Disney

John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

Audition (The Fools Who Dream)

From La La Land (Summit Entertainment)

Music by Justin Hurwitz. Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

Can’t Stop The Feeling

From Trolls (20th Century Fox)

Music and lyric by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster

City Of Stars

From La La Land (Summit Entertainment)

Music by Justin Hurwitz. Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

The Empty Chair

From Jim: The James Foley Story (HBO Documentary Films and Kunhardt Films).

Music and Lyric by J. Ralph and Sting

How Far I’ll Go

From “Moana” (Walt Disney)

Music and lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda

 

 

89th Annual Academy Awards Timeline

Feb. 6: Oscar Nominees Luncheon

Feb. 11: Scientific and Technical Awards

Feb. 13: Final voting opens

Feb. 21: Final voting closes

Feb. 26: 89th Academy Awards

The Oscars will be held at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland in Hollywood. The ceremony will be televised live by ABC.