Disney’s absence from contention in 2023 has placed Studio Ghibli’s “The Boy and The Heron” and Sony Animation’s “Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse” as the frontrunners for the Best Animated Feature award.
Both films not only achieved success at the box office but also received critical acclaim, earning recognition as some of the standout movies of the year.
“Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse” serves as a sequel to the groundbreaking “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse,” a film that revolutionized animation styles across studios.
On the other hand, “The Boy and The Heron” contributes significantly to Studio Ghibli’s legacy, offering a powerful and emotionally resonant experience.
While not Hayao Miyazaki’s final work, as initially speculated, it remains an exceptionally personal project from the revered director.
Both studios boast a track record of Best Animated Feature wins.
“Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse” secured the award in 2018, interrupting Disney’s six-year streak.
Studio Ghibli’s “Spirited Away” claimed the honor in 2002, and several of their other films, including “The Wind Rises,” “The Tale of Princess Kaguya,” “When Marnie Was There,” and “The Red Turtle,” have received nominations.
“Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse” enjoys broader appeal, becoming the highest-rated film in Letterboxd’s history upon release.
Its accessibility, coupled with its artistic brilliance and deeper themes, positions it as a superhero movie suitable for all audiences.
The film further advances the visually innovative animation introduced in its predecessor.
In contrast, “The Boy and The Heron” offers a more complex and less immediately approachable viewing experience.
Its intricate themes and storytelling may pose challenges for some viewers to connect with, especially given its darker wartime Japan setting.
However, this complexity lends the film a more mature and nuanced quality, leaving room for discovery upon subsequent viewings.
While “Across the Spiderverse” is a phenomenal movie, it lacks the maturity and focused artistry found in “The Boy and The Heron.”
The sequel, with its multitude of Spider-People and occasional live-action characters, veers towards a sense of an overstuffed comic book cameo, lacking the cohesive narrative impact of its predecessor.
Additionally, it concludes somewhat abruptly with a ‘to be continued’ note.
Both films exhibit stunning animation, with one being more nuanced but less accessible and the other more welcoming but potentially less artistically impressive.
“The Boy and The Heron” gained an advantage by winning the 2023 Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film.
This recognition could play a significant role leading up to the Oscars, especially considering “Into the Spiderverse” followed a similar trajectory with a Golden Globe win in 2018.
As of now, “The Boy and The Heron” appears to have a slight edge over “Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse.”
The true outcome will only be revealed at the 2023 Oscars, making it a suspenseful wait for the announcement of the year’s Best Animated Feature.