The reality is that the Animated Feature Film category is going to come down to these two. This is a difficult one to predict.
What it’s up for: Animated Feature Film, Original Song
I was late to the Moana game and didn’t see it until January. Once I saw it, I immediately understood what all the fuss has been about. People have called it the best movie Disney has ever made. I’m not sure I would go that far, but it does have a pure storytelling perfection that has been lacking in recent years.
The basic plot is that Moana, the daughter of the village chief, sets out on an adventure to restore the heart of Tafiti, the Mother Goddess, in order to restore balance to the world. I don’t want to mention more than that because the less you know the better.
I would vote for Moana for Animated Feature Film. The story has a classic fairy-tale structure to it but provides enough unpredictability for it to fully engage the audience. It’s funny at just the right moments (I love Hei Hei. I don’t even care what you say.) and addresses some deep emotions without going overboard. It’s hard to describe the simple joy this movie brought me when I saw it.
The music is ridiculously catchy. It’s the best music from a Disney movie since The Lion King. Yes, I said it. Lin-Manuel Miranda did a great job providing his unique touch while still keeping to a classic Disney sound thanks to his partnership with Mark Mancina.
The song that Moana is nominated for is “How Far I’ll Go”. Here’s the video:
Now for the other Disney movie nominated:
What it’s up for: Animated Feature Film
Zootopia is awesome. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s on Netflix so go watch it. It’s clever and meaningful and in an entirely different category from Moana. It’s difficult to accurately compare the two because the genres are so different. Animated Features get lumped into this single category, but every animated film is not the same as every other animated film. They appeal to different audiences just like live-action films.
Zootopia follows Judy Hopps, a small-town bunny, who wants to be a police officer in the big city of Zootopia. She works her way into the ranks and immediately discovers the challenge of being the first bunny cop on the force.
The film addresses racism, police/civilian relationships, discrimination based on demographics, and stereotypes. This is done with very little subtlety. The heavy-handedness of the message is the one complaint I have with the film. It wasn’t so extreme as to ruin the movie, but certain parts broke the fourth wall a bit too much. This is especially true because it came out during a busy period of civil unrest in the US over police brutality. (It took two years to make Zootopia, so the timing of the release was more coincidental than intentional.) However, the messages are good ones that are made more accessible to kids because of the animated film format. I’m completely on board with being able to talk to kids more about stereotyping using the predators and prey of Zootopia to help drive the point home.
Overall, Zootopia is entertaining and well-made. If the subject matter of the movie had been something less relevant, however, I don’t think it would’ve been nominated for Best Animated Feature Film. It would’ve fallen into the same category as Finding Dory, Monsters University, and The Lego Movie (I’m still sore about that one) – movies that were GOOD but not good enough for an Oscar nod.
It could go one of two ways – either the Academy votes for the movie with a message or they intentionally vote for Moana because they don’t want to seem like they’re just voting for a movie with a message. I’ll make a final decision eventually. I believe Moana is the better film overall.