Oscars: 'Kubo and the Two Strings' Is Rare Animated Feature to Be Nominated in VFX

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John Leonhardt/Laika Studios/Focus Features

Laika/Focus' Kubo and the Two Strings – described by the filmmakers as a “hybrid” animated film, as it combined stop motion and computer animation – was nominated for best animated feature and received a notable second nomination for visual effects. It's been more than two decades since an animated movie was nominated in the VFX category – 1993’s stop-motion The Nightmare Before Christmas.

The Japan-set fantasy Kubo marks the directorial debut of Laika CEO Travis Knight, who is nominated for best animated feature along with producer Arianne Sutner.

Of the VFX nomination, a thrilled Knight said, "It's shocking, not because I don't think it's deserving, but because it required the visual effects branch to look at what we do in a different way. Really, the whole thing is a visual effect. If you go back to the dawn of cinema, stop motion was one of the first visual effects."

Kubo's VFX nominees are VFX supervisor Steve Emerson, director of rapid prototyping Brian McLean (who received a Scientific and Technical Academy Award for Laika's rapid prototyping process earlier this year), animation supervisor Brad Schiff and head of rigging Oliver Jones.

In the VFX category, Kubo is nominated alongside The Jungle Book, Arrival, Deepwater Horizon and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

The animated feature competition is rounded out by Moana, My Life as a Zucchini, The Red Turtle and Zootopia.