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2024 Oscars: Best Animated Feature Predictions

Nominations voting is from January 11–16, 2024, with official Oscar nominations announced on January 23, 2024. Final voting is February 22–27, 2024. And finally, the 96th Oscars telecast will be broadcast on Sunday, March 10, and air live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT. We update predictions throughout awards season, so keep checking IndieWire for all our 2024 Oscar picks.

The State of the Race

Sony’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” solidified its standing as the Oscar favorite after dominating ASIFA-Hollywood’s 51st Annie Awards on February 17 at UCLA’s Royce Hall. The acclaimed sequel from producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller grabbed seven awards, including best animated feature. It also won FX, character design, direction (Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson), music (Daniel Pemberton, Metro Boomin), production design, and editorial.

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Its closest Oscar competitor, Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Boy and the Heron (Studio Ghibli-GKids), took home two Annies for Takeshi Honda’s character animation and Miyazaki’s storyboarding. However, “The Boy and the Heron” won the animated battle at the BAFTA Awards on February 18.

Meanwhile, Oscar-nominated dark horse “Robot Dreams” (Neon) from Pablo Berger won the Annie for best independent feature, while the Oscar-nominated “Nimona,” adapted from ND Stevenson’s best-selling LGBTQ graphic novel and rescued from the dead by Annapurna Animation and Netflix, snagged two Annies for Chloë Grace Moretz’s titular voice acting and writing (Robert L. Baird, Lloyd Taylor).

“Across the Spider-Verse” (directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson) continues the adventures of Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) to forge his own identity as an artistic teen and a superhero anomaly within the multi-verse. Miles gets hurled into several new comic book-inspired dimensions to battle the vengeful Spot (Jason Schwartzman), including Gwen’s watercolor world and the India-inspired Mumbattan. For this, Sony Pictures Imageworks created a slew of new tools for translating more elaborate 2D stylization into 3D with new systems for using pencil, pen and ink, markers, and paintbrushes.

With “The Boy and the Heron,” Miyazaki came out of retirement for the second time after “The Wind Rises” (2013) to make his 12th feature, a semi-autobiographical, hand-drawn fantasy for his grandchildren. It’s about destruction, loss, and rebuilding a better future through imagination, inspired by the novel he adored as a child (“How Do You Live?”). Eleven-year-old Mahito loses his mother in the firebombing of Japan during World War II and relocates to the countryside, where his father marries his sister-in-law. During this troubled state, the boy encounters a talking gray heron that leads him into a parallel universe and a life-altering adventure. The English-language version includes the voice work of Luca Padovan as Mahito, Robert Pattinson as the heron, Christian Bale as the father, Gemma Chan as the stepmother, Willem Dafoe as the Noble Pelican, Mark Hamill as Granduncle, Florence Pugh as Kiriko, Karen Fukuara as Lady Himi, and Dave Bautista as The Parakeet King.

“Elemental” continues the trend of telling semi-autobiographical stories at Pixar with new aesthetics. Director Peter Sohn (“The Good Dinosaur”) was inspired to tell the love story of his parents, who emigrated from Korea in the ’70s and ran a grocery store in the Bronx. Pixar created new tech for the effects-heavy film to make fire and water look and behave convincingly as CG characters and how they eventually overlap. It’s set in Elemental City, where people made of the four elements — earth, air, water, and fire — coexist in a community rife with division. Tough, sharp-witted, fiery Ember (Leah Lewis) develops a friendship with her polar opposite, the laidback, sentimental, and watery Wade (Mamoudou Athie).

“Nimona” (rescued by Annapurna and Netflix after Disney shuttered Blue Sky) is adapted from ND Stevenson’s best-selling LGBTQ graphic novel about the titular, shape-shifting teen (Chloë Grace Moretz) who battles xenophobia in a futuristic medieval world. Nimona teams up with a knight (Riz Ahmed) framed for murder, who must confront his bestie-turned-rival (Eugene Lee Yang). The animation from DNEG (capturing the spirit of the Blue Sky design) has a quirky 2D aesthetic that’s perfect for the tone and setting.

Berger’s animated debut, “Robot Dreams,” is the surprise dark horse entry, winning the Annecy Contrecham Award along with The Animation Is Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize. The 2D film (adapted from the wordless graphic novel by Sara Varon) follows the friendship between a lonely dog and a robot companion in ’80s Manhattan inhabited by animals and the trauma of suddenly being separated. It’s funny, poignant, and magnificently designed and animated, and transforms Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September” into a joyous anthem.

Nominees are listed below in order of likelihood they will win.

Contenders

“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”
“The Boy and the Heron”
“Elemental”
“Nimona”
“Robot Dreams”

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