“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” becomes a contestant with Annie winning, but it’s still “Pinocchio” to lose.

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We’ll be updating all of our Oscar predictions throughout the season, so keep checking IndieWire for the latest news on the 2023 Oscar race. official Oscars being announced on January 24, 2023. Final voting will take place March 2-7, 2023. Finally, the 95th Oscars the telecast will air on Sunday, March 12 and air live on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT.

Check out our early thoughts on what to expect at 95th Oscars here.

The state of the race

“The Pinocchio of Guillermo del Toro” got closer to the Oscar of Best Animated Film after leading ASIFA-Hollywood’s 50th Annie Awards (held February 25 at UCLA’s Royce Hall). Netflix’s stop-motion “Pinocchio” won Best Feature, as well as Feature Film awards for Best Character Animation (Tucker Barrie), Best Direction (del Toro and Mark Gustafson), Best Music (Alexandre Desplat, Roeban Katz, del Toro, Patrick McHale) and Best Production Design (Curt Enderle, Guy Davis).

However, by winning Best Independent Feature at the Annies, A24’s “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” becomes a strong challenger. The historic stop-motion/live-action hybrid also scored Annies for Best Voice Acting for co-creator Jenny Slate and Best Writing – Feature (director Dean Fleischer Camp, Slate, Nick Paley, Elisabeth Holm).

The other three Oscar nominees are Pixar’s “Turning Red,” DreamWorks’ “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” and Netflix’s “The Sea Beast.”

“Pinocchio,” del Toro’s first animated feature, was an early favorite, benefiting from the director’s copyright status. It would become the first Best Director winner (“The Shape of Water”) to also win Best Animated Feature. This poignant father-son musical drama and anti-fascist fable takes stop-motion (from the Portland branch of “BoJack Horseman” studio ShadowMachine) in a more real-life direction with lighting, camerawork and performance.

Meanwhile, the acclaimed “Marcel the Shell” made Oscar history as the first stop-motion/live-action nominee after qualify as a unique hybrid. Fleischer Camp’s feature debut (adapted from his series of shorts with Slate), follows the anthropomorphic 1-inch shell (voiced by Slate) on a journey to reunite with his family, becoming a viral sensation along the way thanks to a doc filmmaker (played mostly off-screen by Camp) and an appearance on “60 Minutes.” The film was embraced for its charm, wit, unusually small stop-motion scale (supervised by animator Kirsten Lepore), and lovable lead star.

Significantly, “Turning Red” and “Puss in Boots” are both standout CGs for pushing the 2D aesthetic in very different directions. Director Domee Shi blazed a trail as a female visionary at Pixar with “Turning Red” and its quirky anime-inspired aesthetic that matched her comedy-fantasy about a giant red panda as a metaphor for puberty.

The experimental “Into the Spider-Verse” look had a huge impact on the painterly fairy-book style of “Puss in Boots,” which finds the franchise’s fearless feline “Shrek” (Antonio Banderas) struggling with mortality after burning the first eight of its nine lives. Director Joel Crawford benefited from an extensive DreamWorks toolkit and some psychedelic 2D looks for the fights between Puss and The Wolf (Wagner Moura).

The only surprise entry is “The Sea Beast”, the retro maritime adventure directed by former Disney vet Chris Williams (the Oscar-winning “Big Hero 6”) about an orphaned stowaway (Zaris-Angel Hator), a sea monster hunter (Karl Urban), and a misunderstood Red Leviathan.

Here are the nominees listed in order of probability of winning:
“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” (ShadowMachine/Netflix)
“Marcel the shell with shoes” (A24)
“Getting Red” (Pixar/Disney)
“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” (DreamWorks/Universal)
“Beast from the Sea” (Netflix)

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