Oscars: Netflix Has a Big First Year in the Animation Race; 'Frozen 2' Snubbed

J’ai perdu mon corps_I Lost My Body Still - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of Xilam Animation

Disney's Frozen 2, which made nearly $1.4 billion worldwide and was the sequel to its 2013 Oscar-nominated juggernaut, was snubbed in the best animated feature category of this year's Academy Awards, the nominations for which were announced Monday morning.

Instead, the category has seen a shift this year with the emergence of Netflix's animation unit. A pair of the streaming service's movies, I Lost My Body and Klaus, picked up animated feature nominations. Rounding out the category nominees are DreamWorks Animation's How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Laika's Missing Link and Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 4.

Klaus is the first original feature to be produced out of Netflix's fledgling animation unit. It's a Santa Claus origin story written and directed by Sergio Pablos (co-creator of Universal's blockbuster Despicable Me franchise) and produced by Jinko Gotoh and Marisa Román. Produced by Pablos' Madrid-based SPA Studios, Klaus has a unique visual style, the result of an approach that the director describes as 2D animation but using new computer tools to give the artists more precise control over lighting.

French film I Lost My Body in May became the first animated feature to win the Critics Week prize at Cannes, and afterward Netflix swooped in to acquire the project. It is director Jérémy Clapin's debut feature, based on the book Happy Hand by Guillaume Laurant, who wrote 2001's Amélie with director Jean-Pierre Jeunet and adapted his book for the feature. The story follows two related tales: the journey of a disembodied hand wandering around Paris in search of its body; and the story of its owner, a young man named Naoufel, who falls for a young woman named Gabrielle. Marc du Pontavice produced the film.

The five nominees cover a range of animation styles, including stop-motion, computer and traditional animation. Missing Link — a hybrid stop-motion and computer animated feature — was a surprise winner last week at the Golden Globe Awards. The Yeti tale was written and directed by Chris Butler (Paranorman) and produced by Arianne Sutner and Travis Knight. Every Laika movie has been nominated in this category since its debut feature, 2009's Coraline.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is the emotional conclusion to the trilogy written and directed by Dean DeBlois. The two previous films in the animated trilogy were also Oscar-nominated. The Hidden World was produced by Bonnie Arnold and Bradford Lewis.

Toy Story 4, the fourth film in Disney/Pixar's Oscar-winning franchise, topped $1 billion worldwide and was helmed by first-time director Josh Cooley (a past Oscar nominee for the Inside/Out screenplay), and produced by Mark Nielsen and Jonas Rivera.

Conspicuously absent from the list was heavyweight Disney's Frozen 2, directed by Jennifer Lee, who also wrote the screenplay, and Chris Buck. Lee was upped to the role of chief creative at Walt Disney Animation Studios during production of the movie.

Also absent is a film from indie distributor GKIDS, which since 2010 has scored 11 best animated feature Oscar nominations. The last year that GKIDS failed to produce a nomination was 2013.