Even though the academy appears to share our distrust of The Lego Movie and all of its mixed messages, we nonetheless light a candle in its honor, as the nominees here collectively embody the sort of risk-averse status quo that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are devoted to subverting in more than just their animated work. Which isn’t to say that we aren’t fans of some of these films and their more traditional methods, namely Song of the Sea, a sublime, if over-plotted, lullaby whose exquisitely geometric designs are as rich as its narrative’s folkloric sensibility. But with the academy’s fringe snob faction bound to split its affections between it and the other GKIDS import, Isao Takahata’s impressionistic The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, this category’s champ will constitute yet another hooray for Hollywood.
Having won the Golden Globe and six trophies at this year’s Annie Awards, How to Train Your Dragon 2 would appear to have this one in the bag. Yet a number of past trends suggest that Big Hero 6 might be ahead. Every other year since 2006, the Oscars and the Annies have been in disagreement; that includes 2010, when How to Train Your Dragon swept the Annies, but lost the Oscar to Toy Story 3. Sentiment appears to favor How to Train Your Dragon 2, which doesn’t have to compete against a more popular, both critically and commercially, Pixar production. But its failure to even secure a BAFTA nomination must be considered damning, as every animated film to win the BAFTA since 2006 has gone on to win the Oscar.
But what does it mean that The Lego Movie won the BAFTA award over Big Hero 6—and is that more or less telling than How to Train Your Dragon 2 failing to make the cut over The Boxtrolls? And if How to Train Your Dragon 2 wins in races where it competes against Big Hero 6 and The Lego Movie, where do votes for Lord and Christopher Miller film go in races where its absent? In spite of Big Hero 6 being distributed by Disney, and in spite of the film hitting that we-are-in-this-together thematic sweet spot that’s redolent of The Incredibles, we’ll play this one safe and call it for How to Train Your Dragon 2. Because if there’s any truth to The Lego Movie’s corporate origins being to blame for its lack of a nomination, maybe the academy will also take umbrage with Big Hero 6’s Baymax occupying so much real estate on toy shelves the world over.
Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Could Win: Big Hero 6
Should Win: Song of the Sea