A new trend has begun to take hold in a category that’s been mostly major-studio territory since its creation a decade ago. The animated-feature lineup is seeing more independent distributors finding their way into the Oscar race and enjoying real success in winning those coveted nominations.
In fact, since the animated-feature category was created in 2001, the list of winners — from DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek through last year’s victor Paramount’s Rango — has been dominated by the major studios, particularly Disney/Pixar, which won four of the past five animated-feature Oscars and six overall. Last year’s Cars 2 was the first time a Pixar entry failed to make the cut, even with five nominations in the category. Even the two independent productions that have won, Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (2002) and Aardman’s Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005), were distributed by major studios, Disney and DreamWorks Animation, respectively. But it’s clear that indie distributors are making headway in the animation race and potentially causing big trouble for the majors and their expensive tentpole toons.