“Puss in Boots” “Pinocchio” in the record-breaking animated Oscar race

In the early days of the Academy’s animated film Oscar, there were questions as to whether enough films would qualify to receive the award each year. No longer! This year sees a record number of applicants across a variety of genres, styles and audiences, from serious, adult-oriented films (like “Charlotte” and “Eternal Spring”) to boffo offerings from Hollywood’s top toon studios – and that doesn’t even count such anime franchise sensations as “One Piece Film: Red” and “Jujutsu Kaisen 0”, which did not submit but further illustrate the vitality of the form.

Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood

Director: Richard Linklater

Voices: Glen Powell, Zachary Levi, Jack Black

Studios: Minnow Mountain, Submarine, Detour Film Production

Distributor: Netflix

A time capsule made possible through a sophisticated blend of 2D, 3D and rotoscope techniques allows the Boyhood director to recreate the style of Waking Life and his own 1960s Texas childhood.

The Bad Boys

Director: Pierre Perifel

Voices: Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Awkwafina

Studio: DreamWorks animation

Distributor: Universal images

A gang of animal criminals (“criminals”?) attempt to make their mark in this slick, wit-driven DWA offering, stylistically inspired by European comics.

The Bob’s Burgers Movie

Directors: Loren Bouchard, Bernard Derriman

Voices: H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman

Studio: 20th Century Animation

Distributor: 20th century studios

In the tradition of The Simpsons Movie, this big-screen expansion of the popular Fox TV series about a family of restaurant owners feels like four episodes smeared together — on a sesame bun.


Directors: Eric Warin, Tahir Rana

Voices: Keira Knightley, Brenda Blethyn, and Jim Broadbent

Studio: January movies

Distributor: Good deed entertainment

The results may not be as polished as the category’s flashier competitors, but the key here is the decision to tell the life story (and fate of the Holocaust) of painter Charlotte Salomon through hand-drawn animation.

DC League of Super Pets

Director: Jared Stern

Voices: Dwayne Johnson,

Kevin Hart, Kate McKinnon

Studio: Warner Animation Group

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

For those who think the DC superhero movies take themselves too seriously, this 3D CG comedy about Supes’ canine pal offers an amusing reprieve – and a hilarious villain in the evil guinea pig Lulu.

drive home

Director: Hiroyasu Ishida

Voices: Asami Seto, Mutsumi Tamura, Ayumu Murase

Studio: Studio Colorido

Distributor: Netflix

A handful of kids sneak into an abandoned apartment complex that’s mysteriously drifting into the sea in this stylistically surreal but emotionally grounded anime from the director of Penguin Highway.

Endless spring

Director: Jason Loftus

Voice: Daxiong

Studio: Sublime pictures of the sky

Distributor: Sublime sky distribution

Like last year’s Flee, this Canadian-produced documentary – about artist Daxiong’s involvement in the Chinese anti-Falun Gong protests – was eligible to compete in three categories: Animation, Documentary and International.

Goodbye Don Glees!

Director: Atsuko Ishizuka

Voices: Natsuki Hanae, Yuki Kaji, Ayumu Murase

Studio: madhouse

Distributor: GKids

A trio of childhood friends face changes at their club as they grow up in this anime from the Japanese company, which has previously worked with the likes of Satoshi Kon and Mamoru Hosoda.

Pinocchio by Guillermo del Toro

Directors: Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson

Voices: Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, and Christoph Waltz

Studios: Netflix Animation, Jim Henson Co., Shadow Machine

Distributor: Netflix

Few people know that the director of Pan’s Labyrinth began his career in animation. Decades later, the visionary auteur filmmaker offers his own emotionally grounded stop-motion version of the Carlo Collodi classic.


Director: Masaaki Yuasa

Voices: Avu-chan, Mirai Moriyama, and Tasuku Emoto

Studio: Inu-Oh film partner

Distributor: GKids

The anime brains behind Mind Game deliver a hand-drawn left-field musical that reimagines a disfigured 14th-century biwa player as some sort of glam-rock Noh superstar.

Little Santa: Happy as he can be

Directors: Amandine Fredon, Benjamin Massoubre

Voices: Simon Faliu, Laurent Lafitte, Alain Chabat

Studios: ON entertainment

Distributor: buffalo 8

This Annecy-winning biopic is more than just an adaptation of the popular child-lit phenomenon. It uses the book’s signature hand-drawn style to reveal its origin story – the brainchild of two French cartoonists.

light year

Director: Angus Maclane

Voices: Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn

Studio: Pixar Animation Studios

Distributor: Movies from the Walt Disney Studios

In a spin-off that also felt like a departure, Pixar gave the space ranger Toy Story his own adventure, pitting Buzz against… himself.


Director: Peggy Holmes

Voices: Eva Noblezada, Simon Pegg, and Jane Fonda

Studio: Skydance animation

Distributor: Apple Studios

Toon studio had a promising concept – and sporadically inspired follow-up – with its first animated feature film about a young lady who stumbles into the wellspring of happiness.

crazy god

Director: Phil Tippet

Voices: Alex Cox, Niketa Roman, and Satish Ratakonda

Studio: Tippett Studio

Distributor: Shudder

Like a blast of heavy metal on an easy-listening radio station, the “Star Wars” FX maestro’s year-long (mostly) stop-motion epic is a grubby descent into a Dante-esque underworld.

Marcel wears the shell with shoes on

Director: Dean Fleischer Camp

Voices: Jenny Slate, Isabella Rossellini, Dean Fleischer-Camp

Studio: Chiodo Bros. products.

Distributor: A24 films

The duo behind the adorable one-eyed snail (and viral video sensation) used the studio behind Team America: World Police to help them adapt the rudimentary stop-motion style to the big screen.

Minions: The Rise of Gru

Director: Kyle Balda

Voices: Steve Carell, Pierre Sarg, Alan Arkin

Studio: Enlightenment

Distributor: Universal images

By far the most popular animated characters since the other two yellow companions, Pikachu and SpongeBob, the Minions return in this absolutely hilarious prequel sequel set in the age of disco.

My father’s dragon

Director: Nora Zweimey

Voices: Jacob Tremblay, Gaten Matarazzo, Ian McShane

Studio: Cartoon Limousine

Distributor: Netflix

Netflix has teamed up with Oscar-nominated The Breadwinner Helmer Twomey to make this beautiful (if slightly less indie-feeling) 2D adaptation of Ruth Stiles Gannett’s beloved mid-century children’s book.

New gods: Yang Jian

Director: Ji Zhao

Voices: Kai Wang, Guanlin Ji, and Lihong Li

Studios: Light Chaser Animation

Distributor: GKids

The visually stunning sequel to the stunningly detailed New Gods: Nezha Reborn puts a modern spin on Chinese mythology by setting these tales in the clouds, amidst floating cities and flying ships.

Oink (Knor)

Director: Masha Halberstadt

Voices: Hiba Ghafry, Kees Prins, and Johnny Kraaijkamp

Studio: Holy Movement Studio

Distributor: synergistic distribution

Something of an acquired taste, this stop-motion scatological oddity from the Netherlands revolves around a sausage-making competition and the pet piglet destined for the meat grinder.

Paws of Rage: The Legend of Hank

Directors: Rob Minkoff, Mark Koetsier, Chris Bailey

Voices: Michael Cera, Richy Gervais, Mel Brooks

Studio: cinesite

Distributor: Paramount Pictures

The voice acting is terrific and the action sequences are pretty clever too in this computer-animated kung fu parody about Blazing Saddles, directed by one of the bosses of The Lion King.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Director: Joel Crawford

Voices: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, John Mulaney, Harvey Guillen

Studio: DreamWorks animation

Distributor: Universal images

More than a decade has passed since the last Shrek movie (and its 2011 cat-toon spinoff), which has given DWA room to test a more elaborate CG style and deeper themes on a new generation.

Run, tiger, run!

Directors: Joey Zou, Stanley Tsang

Voices: Qi Lu, Nianci Shen, and Dawei Liang

Studio: soul animation

Distributor: soul animation

This Chinese computer-animated film focuses on a child who wants to become a caravan guard. Although few have seen the film, its polished look demonstrates the region’s potential to compete with America’s big studio dishes.

The Sea Creature

Director: Chris Williams

Voices: Karl Urban, Zaris-Angel Hator, Marianne Jean-Baptiste

Studios: Netflix animation, Sony Imageworks

Distributor: Netflix

Moana co-director Williams returns to the high seas in this gorgeous CG film, in which an orphan teaches a Captain Ahab-esque monster hunter that the terrifying creatures can be friends.

strange world

Director: Don Hall

Voices: Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Jaboukie Young-White

Studio: Walt Disney Animation Studios

Distributor: Movies from the Walt Disney Studios

A diverse cast – including an openly gay teenager – and equally colorful settings characterize a Jules Verne-inspired adventure film inspired by Treasure Planet (also from producer Roy Conli).

To redden

Director: Dome Shi

Voices: Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse

Studio: Pixar Animation Studios

Distributor: Movies from the Walt Disney Studios

This ultra-original first feature film from Academy Award-winning director “Bao” addresses the stresses of adolescence by “poofing” its teenage protagonist into a cuddly red panda, much to the dismay of her immigrant mother.

Wendel & Wild

Director: Heinrich Seilick

Voices: Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Lyric Ross, Tamara Smart

Studio: Netflix Animation, Gotham Group, Monkeypaw Prods.
Distributor: Netflix

Selick, the stop-motion visionary behind “Coraline,” concocts an intricate contemporary tale of renegade demons and devious real estate developers, with cubist character design and
unmistakable look.

https://variety.com/2022/film/spotlight/puss-in-boots-pinocchio-oscar-1235450876/ “Puss in Boots” “Pinocchio” in the record-breaking animated Oscar race

Charles Jones

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