‘Pinocchio,’ ‘Puss in Boots,’ ‘New Gods’ Among Record Number of Animated Features Set for Oscar Race

In the early days of the Academy’s animated feature Oscar, there were questions as to whether enough films would qualify each year for the award to be given. Not anymore! With 27 films submitting, this year sees a record number of contenders across a wide variety of genres, styles and audiences, from serious, adult-targeted films (like “Charlotte” and “Eternal Spring”) to boffo offerings from Hollywood’s top toon studios — and that doesn’t even count such anime franchise sensations as “One Piece Film: Red” and “Jujutsu Kaisen 0,” which didn’t submit but further illustrate the vitality of the form.

Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood
Director: Richard Linklater
Voices: Glen Powell, Zachary Levi, Jack Black
Studios: Minnow Mountain, Submarine, Detour Filmproduction
Distributor: Netflix
A time capsule made possible through a sophisticated blend of 2D, 3D and rotoscope techniques, allows the “Boyhood” director to revive the style of “Waking Life” and his own 1960s Texas boyhood.

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The Bad Guys
Director: Pierre Perifel 
Voices: Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Awkwafina
Studio: DreamWorks Animation
Distributor: Universal Pictures
A gang of animal criminals (“criminimals”?) attempt to shape up in this slick, joke-driven DWA offering, which takes its style cues from European comics.

The Bob’s Burgers Movie
Directors: Loren Bouchard, Bernard Derriman 
Voices: H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman
Studio: 20th Century Animation 
Distributor: 20th Century Studios
In the tradition of “The Simpsons Movie,” this big-screen expansion of the popular Fox TV series about a restaurant-operating family feels like four episodes smooshed together — on a sesame bun.

Directors: Éric Warin, Tahir Rana
Voices: Keira Knightley, Brenda Blethyn, Jim Broadbent
Studio: January Films
Distributor: Good Deed Entertainment
The results might not be as polished as the category’s flashier contenders, but the key thing here is the choice to tell painter Charlotte Salomon’s life story (and Holocaust fate) via hand-drawn animation.

DC League of Super-Pets
Director: Jared Stern
Voices: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Kate McKinnon
Studio: Warner Animation Group
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
For anyone who thinks the DC superhero movies take themselves too seriously, this 3D CG comedy about Supes’ canine sidekick offers an amusing reprieve — and a hilarious villain in evil guinea pig Lulu.

Drifting Home
Director: Hiroyasu Ishida
Voices: Asami Seto, Mutsumi Tamura, Ayumu Murase
Studio: Studio Colorido
Distributor: Netflix
A handful of kids sneak into an abandoned apartment complex, which mysteriously drifts off to sea in this stylistically surreal but emotionally grounded anime from the director of “Penguin Highway.”

Eternal Spring
Director: Jason Loftus
Voice: Daxiong
Studio: Lofty Sky Pictures
Distributor: Lofty Sky Distribution
Like last year’s “Flee,” this Canadian-made documentary — about artist Daxiong’s involvement in China’s Falun Gong protest actions — could compete in three categories: animation, doc and international.

Goodbye, Don Glees!
Director: Atsuko Ishizuka
Voices: Natsuki Hanae, Yûki Kaji, Ayumu Murase
Studio: Madhouse
Distributor: GKids
A trio of childhood friends confront changes to their club as they grow up in this anime from the Japanese company that previously collaborated with the likes of Satoshi Kon and Mamoru Hosoda.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Directors: Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson
Voices: Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, Christoph Waltz
Studios: Netflix Animation, the Jim Henson Co., ShadowMachine
Distributor: Netflix
Few realize the “Pan’s Labyrinth” director started his career in animation. Decades later, the visionary auteur offers his own emotionally grounded, stop-motion spin on the Carlo Collodi classic.

Director: Masaaki Yuasa
Voices: Avu-chan, Mirai Moriyama, Tasuku Emoto
Studio: Inu-Oh Film Partners
Distributor: GKids
The anime brain behind “Mind Game” delivers a hand-drawn musical from left field, reimagining a disfigured biwa player from the 14th century as a kind of glam-rock Noh superstar.

Lamya’s Poem
Alex Kronemer
Voices: Millie Davis, Mena Massoud, Faran Tahir
Studios: Unity Prods., PIP Animation Services
Distributor: WestEnd Films
Something of a cross between “Flee” and “Where Is Anne Frank,” this hand-drawn Canadian American co-production shows how a book of Rumi’s poetry helps a young Syrian refugee find escape.

Little Nicholas: Happy as Can Be
Directors: Amandine Fredon, Benjamin Massoubre 
Voices: Simon Faliu, Laurent Lafitte, Alain Chabat
Studios: ON Entertainment
Distributor: Buffalo 8
More than just an adaptation of the beloved kid-lit phenom, this Annecy-winning biopic uses the book’s signature hand-drawn style to reveal his origin story — as the brainchild of two French cartoonists.

Director: Angus MacLane 
Voices: Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn
Studio: Pixar Animation Studios
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
In a spinoff that also felt like something of a departure, Pixar gave the “Toy Story” space ranger his own adventure, in which Buzz must face off against … himself.

Director: Peggy Holmes
Voices: Eva Noblezada, Simon Pegg, Jane Fonda
Studio: Skydance Animation
Distributor: Apple Studios
The toon studio had a promising concept — and intermittently inspired follow-through — with their first animated feature, about a young lady who stumbles into the source of good luck.

Mad God
Director: Phil Tippett
Voices: Alex Cox, Niketa Roman, Satish Ratakonda
Studio: Tippett Studio
Distributor: Shudder
Like a blast of heavy metal on an easy-listening radio station, the “Star Wars” FX maestro’s years-in-the-making (mostly) stop-motion epic is a grungy descent into a Dante-esque underworld.

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On
Director: Dean Fleischer-Camp
Voices: Jenny Slate, Isabella Rossellini, Dean Fleischer-Camp
Studio: Chiodo Bros. Prods.
Distributor: A24 Films
The duo behind the adorable one-eyed gastropod (and viral video sensation) tapped the studio behind “Team America: World Police” to help them adapt the rudimentary stop-motion style to the big screen.

Minions: The Rise of Gru
Director: Kyle Balda
Voices: Steve Carell, Pierre Coffin, Alan Arkin
Studio: Illumination
Distributor: Universal Pictures
By far the most popular animated characters since those two other yellow fellows, Pikachu and SpongeBob, the Minions return in this flat-out hilarious prequel-sequel set in the age of disco.

My Father’s Dragon
Director: Nora Twomey
Voices: Jacob Tremblay, Gaten Matarazzo, Ian McShane
Studio: Cartoon Saloon
Distributor: Netflix
Netflix teamed with Oscar-nominated “The Breadwinner” helmer Twomey to make this lovely (if slightly less indie-feeling) 2D adaptation of Ruth Stiles Gannett’s beloved mid-century children’s book.

New Gods: Yang Jian
Director: Ji Zhao
Voices: Kai Wang, Guanlin Ji, Lihong Li
Studios: Light Chaser Animation 
Distributor: GKids
The visually impressive sequel to stunningly detailed “New Gods: Nezha Reborn” puts a modern spin on Chinese mythology by setting these stories in the clouds, amid floating cities and flying ships.

Oink (Knor)
Director: Mascha Halberstad
Voices: Hiba Ghafry, Kees Prins, Johnny Kraaijkamp
Studio: Holy Motion Studio
Distributor: Synergetic Distribution
Something of an acquired taste, this scatological stop-motion oddity from Netherlands centers on a sausage-making contest and the pet piglet destined for the meat grinder.

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank
Directors: Rob Minkoff, Mark Koetsier, Chris Bailey
Voices: Michael Cera, Richy Gervais, Mel Brooks
Studio: Cinesite
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
The voice work is terrific and the action sequences are pretty clever, too, in this computer-animated kung fu spoof on “Blazing Saddles” co-directed by one of “The Lion King” helmers.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
Director: Joel Crawford
Voices: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, John Mulaney, Harvey Guillen
Studio: DreamWorks Animation
Distributor: Universal Pictures
It’s been more than a decade since the last “Shrek” movie and (and its 2011 cat-toon spinoff), giving DWA room to test out a more artful CG style and deeper themes on a new generation.

Run, Tiger, Run!
Directors: Joey Zou, Stanley Tsang
Voices: Qi Lü, Nianci Shen, Dawei Liang
Studio: Soular Animation
Distributor: Soular Animation
This Chinese computer-animated feature focuses on a kid who wants to be a caravan guard. While few saw the film, its polished look demonstrates the region’s potential to compete with big American studio fare.

The Sea Beast
Director: Chris Williams
Voices: Karl Urban, Zaris-Angel Hator, Marianne Jean-Baptiste
Studios: Netflix Animation, Sony Imageworks
Distributor: Netflix
“Moana” co-director Williams returns to the high seas in this gorgeous CG offering, in which an orphan girl teaches a Captain Ahab-like monster hunter that the fearsome creatures can be friends.

Strange World
Director: Don Hall
Voices: Jake Gyllenhaal,  Dennis Quaid, Jaboukie Young-White
Studio: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
A diverse cast — including an openly gay teen — and equally colorful environments are the draw in a Jules Verne-inspired adventure film in the vein of “Treasure Planet” (also from producer Roy Conli).

Turning Red
Director: Domee Shi
Voices: Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse
Studio: Pixar Animation Studios
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
This ultra-original first feature from the Oscar-winning director of “Bao” addresses the stresses of adolescence by “poofing” its teen protagonist into a cuddly red panda, much to her immigrant mom’s horror.

Wendell & Wild
Director: Henry Selick
Voices: Keegan-Michael Key,  Jordan Peele, Lyric Ross, Tamara Smart
Studio: Netflix Animation, Gotham Group, Monkeypaw Prods.
Distributor: Netflix
Selick, the stop-motion visionary behind “Coraline,” hatches a complicated contemporary tell of renegade demons and dastardly real estate developers, featuring cubist character design and
distinctive visuals.

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