Best Adapted Screenplay:
Screenplay winners are often solid indicators for who’s really contending for the night’s big prize, but not since 2016 (Moonlight) has the Adapted Screenplay Oscar winner doubled as the year’s Best Picture. That could (and will likely) change this year. The overwhelming favorite to bring home this award is Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland, a glorious tale of a woman embarking on a nomadic journey through the American West after she lost everything. Though The Father could make things interesting. It feels unlikely that a film like The Father – stunning and fascinating in how it depicts dementia – would nab a screenplay win from a powerhouse like Nomadland. But again: not since 2016 has the Best Adapted Screenplay winner also won Best Picture, and in order to win Best Picture (especially to get nominated), you have to appear in the screenplay crop. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, One Night in Miami…, and The White Tiger do not, and though it might be a nice surprise to reward The Father’s brilliant and startling representation of dementia, that feels more like a more likely prize for editing.
Best Animated Feature Film:
Pixar once again is the frontrunner for Best Animated Feature, as the studio often is. However, it is the first time since the inception of this category twenty years ago that they have had two different films receive nominations. Soul appears to be the favourite given the praise it has received, along with the other precursor awards it’s won. The film also received nominations in two more categories, so it may become the fifth Pixar film to win this award and one other in the same year.
Onward is the second film nominated by Pixar. Unfortunately, Onward’s release was at the beginning of March last year, shortly before the imposition of international lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so it wasn’t seen by as many. Onward did receive some positive reviews at the time, but Soul’s release and rave reviews have overshadowed it. However, could two Pixar films receiving nominations here split the vote and lead to another film becoming victorious?
Netflix received nominations for two different films last year, and the streamer has once again been focusing its efforts on attempting to win here. Over the Moon is the film that Netflix will be hoping starts an overhaul in this category this year. The film’s director is veteran animator Glen Keane, who won an Oscar for his short in 2018 Dear Basketball, an animated retelling of the late Kobe Bryant‘s poem of the same name, so Keane is familiar to Academy voters.
The last two nominated films are also both from studios that have received previous nominations in this category. Wolfwalkers is possibly the closest rival to Soul. It comes from the Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon. It is arguably the studio’s most accomplished work to date, but will it become their first winner? The film has received high praise for its animation, and many would be pleased if the film came away victorious.
Aardman Animations also scores another nomination with A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon. It is their first nomination in this category since 2015 when the film’s predecessor was nominated, Aardman’s only win coming ten years earlier with Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
Best Animated Short Film:
Both Netflix and Disney+ seem to be taking advantage of their position as streaming giants to generate further attention to their respective animated short films. Netflix’s If Anything Happens I Love You is a strong contender for this award. The film focuses on grief as two parents struggle to deal with the loss of a child. The film’s directors Michael Govier and Will McCormack are both actors who have decided to give animation a try. If they only score the nomination, it is more than enough of an achievement for their efforts.
Burrow is the short that comes from Disney+. The film focuses on a young rabbit attempting to establish its own home. Burrow’s director, Madeline Sharafian, has predominantly worked in television in the writing and art departments for the We Bare Bears series on Cartoon Network. She has also collaborated with Pixar working in the art department and as a storyboard artist on Coco.
Another animator that has a wealth of experience working with Pixar is Erick Oh. He also worked on Pixar’s 2017 short animation nominee Lou and the 2016 winner Piper, and Oh has been part of the studio’s success for a decade now. Oh becomes the second nominee of Eastern Asian descent to be nominated in this category in the last two years. Domee Shi was victorious in 2019 with Bao: can Oh follow in her footsteps?
Adrien Merigeau is another animator who has experience working with an animation studio familiar to the Academy. He has worked with Cartoon Saloon on Secret of the Kells and Song of the Sea, the latter being his last industry credit until his short Genius Loci in 2020. It is a unique and bizarre animated film that stands out from the rest, but could its differences make it all the more appealing to the Academy? The final Best Animated Short nominee comes from Iceland. Director Gísli Darri Halldórsson has made the CGI short Yes People, a story about an eclectic mix of people facing everyday battles. It is Halldórsson’s first film, having worked in animation since 2007 across Europe. Hopefully, his nomination will bring him further success.
Prediction: If Anything Happens I Love You