This article contains IndieWire’s preliminary Best Animated Feature predictions for the 2024 Oscars. We regularly update our predictions throughout awards season and republish previous versions (like this one) for readers to track changes in how the Oscar race has changed. For the latest update on the frontrunners for the 96th Academy Awards, see our 2024 Oscars predictions hub.

The State of the Race

It looks like a three-way Oscar race between Sony’s blockbuster “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” Hayao Miyazaki’s summary film “The Boy and the Heron” (GKids), and Disney’s 100th-anniversary tribute, “Wish.” Other Oscar hopefuls include Pixar’s “Elemental,” “Chicken: Run: Dawn of the Nugget” (Aardman/Netflix), “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” (Illumination/Universal), “Nimona” (Netflix/Annapurna), “The Peasants” (Sony Pictures Classics), the Polish international entry (from the Oscar-nominated team that made “Loving Vincent”), Pablo Berger’s acclaimed 2D animated feature debut, “Robot Dreams” (NEON), Makoto Shinkai’s disaster-fantasy “Suzume” (Crunchyroll), “Migration” (Illumination/Universal) from Oscar-nominated director Benjamin Renner (“Ernest & Celestine”), ”Trolls Band Together” (DreamWorks/Universal), and “They Shot the Piano Player” (Sony Pictures Classics), the bossa nova documentary from Oscar-nominated directors Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal (“Chico & Rita”).  

“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” has emerged as the early Oscar favorite this year: The sequel has surpassed its Oscar-winning predecessor at the box office ($381 million domestically and $689 million globally) and upped its game with a more expansive story and greater animated tech innovations. Producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller and new directors Joaquim Dos Santos (“The Legend of Korra”), Kemp Powers (“Soul” co-director), and Justin K. Thompson (“Into the Spider-Verse” production designer) hurled Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) and Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) into several new dimensions to battle Spot (Jason Schwartzman), including Gwen’s watercolor world and the India-inspired Mumbattan. And for that, Sony Pictures Imageworks created innovative tools for translating more elaborate 2D stylization into 3D with new systems for using pencil, pen and ink, markers, and paintbrushes. 

With “The Boy and the Heron,” Miyazaki came out of retirement again to make the semi-autobiographical, hand-drawn film for his grandson, inspired by the novel he adored as a child: “How Do You Live?” The eponymous teen loses his mother in the firebombing of Japan during World War II and relocates to the countryside, where his father marries his sister-in-law. During this troubled state, the boy encounters a talking gray heron that leads him into a parallel universe and a life-altering adventure. Many of Mayazaki’s familiar tropes are imaginatively woven into a beautiful and wistful summary statement on mortality and art.

Coinciding with Disney’s 100th anniversary comes “Wish,” the origin story of the wishing star, introduced in “Pinocchio” and later seen in “Peter Pan,” “Lady and the Tramp,” and “The Princess and the Frog.” Scripted by chief creative officer Jennifer Lee (“Frozen”), produced by Peter Del Vecho (“Frozen”), and directed by Chris Buck (“Frozen”) and Fawn Veerasunthorn (head of story for “Raya and the Last Dragon“), the musical fantasy is set in the medieval kingdom of Rosas where wishes magically come true (ruled by King Magnifico, voiced by Chris Pine). When eternal optimist Asha (Ariana DeBose) turns to the sky in a moment of need and makes a wish, her plea is answered by a cosmic force — a little ball of boundless energy called Star. Alan Tudyk voices her sidekick, a pajama-wearing goat. Production designer Michael Giaimo (“Frozen”) oversaw the 2D-looking watercolor style inspired by early Disney fairy tales, with CG artists creating the new look. Grammy-nominated Julia Michaels composed seven original songs.

WISH Disney

Pixar’s “Elemental” was a box office flop domestically ($154 million) yet it grossed more than $490 million worldwide and recovered to become Disney+’s most viewed movie premiere of the year. It still could nab a nomination. The studio’s first rom-com is technically innovative and continues the trend of telling semi-autobiographical stories. Director Peter Sohn (“The Good Dinosaur”) was inspired to tell the love story of his parents, who emigrated from Korea in the ’70s and ran a grocery store in the Bronx. Pixar created new tech for the effects-heavy film to make fire and water look and behave convincingly as CG characters and how they overlap. It’s set in Elemental City, where people made of the four elements — earth, air, water, and fire — coexist in a community rife with division. Tough, sharp-witted, fiery Ember (Leah Lewis) develops a friendship with her polar opposite, the laidback, sentimental, and watery Wade (Mamoudou Athie).

The husband-and-wife directing team of D.K. Welchman and Hugh Welchman follow up their landmark, Oscar-nominated “Loving Vincent” with “The Peasants” (Poland’s international Oscar entry). It’s a more ambitious drama adapted from Nobel laureate Wladislaw Reymont’s late 19th-century novel about peasant life in a rural Polish village. They once again utilize their breakthrough animation technique of filming actors in live action and then creating 40,000 oil paintings that are placed on top of the photographic images and then animated in dynamic fashion. These are in the style of the period (particularly the Young Poland Movement of realism and impressionism).

Berger’s (“Blancanieves”) “Robot Dreams,” adapted from the award-winning graphic novel by Sara Varon, is a bittersweet buddy comedy that follows the friendship between a lonely dog and a robot companion in an ’80s New York City inhabited by anthropomorphic animals that do not speak, and what happens when they’re suddenly separated. It’s funny, poignant, and magnificently designed and animated, and transforms Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September” into a joyous anthem.

“Dawn of the Nugget,” the sequel to the top-grossing stop-motion film in history, picks up a few years later, where the happy-ever-after for Rocky (Zachary Levi, replacing Mel Gibson), Ginger (Thandiwe Newton, taking over from Julia Sawalha), and daughter Molly (Bella Ramsey) gets interrupted, and they’re forced to break back into the farm to save their chicken pals. Sam Fell (“ParaNorman”) directs from a script by Karey Kirkpatrick, John O’Farrell, and Rachel Tunnard, with Steve Pegram (“Arthur Christmas”) and Leyla Hobart producing. 

“Nimona,” rescued by Annapurna Animation and Netflix after Disney shuttered Blue Sky, following the Fox acquisition, is a queer breakthrough about conquering xenophobia in a futuristic medieval world. Directed by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane (“Spies in Disguise”) and adapted from ND Stevenson’s best-selling LGBTQ graphic novel, it features a knight (Riz Ahmed) framed for murder, who teams up with the eponymous shape-shifter, and also contains a same-sex love story involving the knight and his bestie-turned rival (Eugene Lee Yang). The animation from DNEG has a quirky 2D aesthetic that’s perfect for the tone and setting.

"The Boy and the Heron"
“The Boy and the Heron”Studio Ghibli

The punkish reboot of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” (Nickelodeon/Paramount) was a surprise summer hit ($191 million domestically and $485 million worldwide. Director Jeff Rowe (co-director of “The Mitchells vs. The Machines”) utilized a rough sketch look through CG to depict the teenage passions and imperfections of the Turtles. It’s about the heroic aspirations of Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu), Michelangelo (Shamon Brown Jr.), Donatello (Micah Abbey), and Raphael (Brady Noon) and wanting to be accepted by humans. 

As for the rest: Makoto Shinkai’s “Suzume” marks his most beautiful and ambitious fantasy romance yet, in which a small-town teen anxiously travels throughout Japan with a mysterious companion trapped inside a magical chair to save her country from a cataclysmic disaster (inspired by the Great East Japan Earthquake). “Migration,” an exquisite-looking film about a family of ducks that learn to leave their comfort zone. “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” the Nintendo video game adaptation, was a nostalgia-filled blockbuster hit ($1.36 billion globally, $574.9 million domestically), but the story left much to be desired. Still, it might sneak in for making its mark with struggling Brooklyn plumbers Mario (Chris Pratt) and Luigi (Charlie Day) teaming up with badass Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) to stop fire-breaking, egotistical Koopa Bowser (Jack Black). “Trolls Band Together” (DreamWorks/Universal) gets more psychedelic with a tribute to boybands and family bands, and expands the universe, as Justin Timberlake’s Branch re-connects with his estranged brothers, who are kidnapped by sibling pop star villains Velvet (Amy Schumer) and Veneer (Andrew Rannells).

In “They Shot the Piano Player, Trueba and Mariscal explore the origins of the bossa nova in this documentary about a New York music journalist who goes on a quest to uncover the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of young Brazilian piano virtuoso Tenorio Jr. “Trolls Band Together,” the third outing, is a psychedelic tribute to boybands and family bands, with Justin Timberlake’s Branch taking center stage to save his estranged brothers from sibling pop star villains Velvet (Amy Schumer) and Veneer (Andrew Rannells).

Potential nominees are listed in alphabetical order; no film will be deemed a frontrunner until we have seen it.


“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”
“The Boy and the Heron”


“Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget”
“Robot Dreams”
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem”
“The Peasants”
“The Super Mario Bros. Movie”
“They Shot the Piano Player”
“Trolls Band Together”

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