Another Oscar ceremony has passed and another animated film has been crowned as the best of the year. Frozen was awarded the Best Animated Feature prize, marking the first win for Walt Disney Animation Studios in that category. But, how does it compare to the previous winners? Let's take a look at the films that have won in this category since its inception in 2002.
13. Happy Feet (2006)
Happy Feet is a film that came out at the right time and that - more than its own merits - is why it was awarded the Oscar. Released the same year An Inconvenient Truth and a year after March of the Penguins, the global warming issue was raging all around the world and Happy Feet was a perfect fit for it. The Academy loves films with "serious" messages, and Happy Feet met the requirements. Unfortunately, viewed without all this baggage, Happy Feet is only a serviceable story that stumbles in its third act as it tries to combine the fun and toe-tapping mood with the serious issue of global warming. Compared to another nominee, Cars, the film does not offer as many thrills; in the end it's a mixed bag of catchy music and half baked drama that never quite takes off.
12. Brave (2012)
Pixar won its latest Oscar with this story of an outspoken and strong-willed girl and her problematic relationship with her mother. While it does offer plenty of spectacle and a surprisingly heartfelt story, it's not as good as some of Pixar's previous efforts and winners. Some controversy also started because it was widely held that Disney Animation's Wreck-It Ralph would take the award, and that it was the better film. Even if that is true, Brave's no slouch either. In one of the most competitive years in that field, with many excellent films, Brave is a worthy winner, even if it wasn't the best of them.
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists
11. Shrek (2001)
There's still an ongoing debate of whether Shrek or Monsters, Inc. deserved the first Oscar for Best Animated Feature. But, even though I do prefer the latter, I can't say that Shrek didn't deserve it. It's a great film that still feels fresh now, even with some dated pop-culture references. And while its countless sequels have somewhat tarnished its relevancy, it can't be denied the importance that Shrek has, being the film that put DreamWorks Animation on the map.
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
10. Rango (2011)
A unique film with bizarre characters and a fresh premise, Rango is the odd winner in this field. But, that doesn't matter, as it really provides a unique kind of entertainment that's not very usually seen in mainstream animation. Controversy was again present in this year, as many claimed that the best film was The Adventures of Tintin, which was not even nominated (a result of the Academy's very shoddy rules when it comes to defining animation). However, controversy or no, Rango is a great film with exquisite animation. And, although it might be a little bizarre for some people, it offers a unique experience that is all too rare in animated films.
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots
09. Finding Nemo (2003)
Pixar's first Oscar winner in this category also became one of its biggest hits. A heartfelt story about father and son and an epic quest in the ocean; a classic film imbued with stellar animation and top-notch voice acting. The other nominees didn't stand a chance against it and there's no question that Finding Nemo deserved the Oscar.
The Triplets of Belleville
08. Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
Aardman won their first (and, so far, only) Oscar in this category by taking their most recognizable characters and putting them in an exciting adventure. Wallace & Gromit offers the same charm as the short films, but, by expanding it to feature-length format, it gives ample time to explore more about these characters and their unique dynamic. The three nominees were very strong that year, but Wallace & Gromit was the best.
Howl's Moving Castle
07. Ratatouille (2007)
Ratatouille was a troubled production, with original director Jan Pinkava being replaced by Brad Bird. But, if you've seen the film, you will hardly notice any troubles, as the finished thing is completely flawless. Taking the unique premise of a rat who wants to be a chef, the film tackles many relevant themes and its story is fresh and timely. Ratatouille once more cemented Pixar's dominance in the category and in the animation industry.
06. Frozen (2013)
The most recent Oscar winner is a superb spectacle with gorgeous animation, amazing songs and endearing characters. The only fairy tale to win the Oscar, Frozen has become a cultural phenomenon and it's Disney Animation's biggest film of all time. In a disappointing year for animation, Frozen easily rose to the top and cemented Disney Animation's spectacular comeback as a leading animation studio.
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Wind Rises
05. Wall-E (2008)
Pixar once again wowed audiences around the world, with a unique romantic story about two robots. Andrew Stanton helmed this beautiful tale where the lead character hardly says a word. Beautiful animation compliments the already superb story, which manages to teach timeless messages without becoming preachy or heavy-handed (unlike Happy Feet), all while offering top-notch entertainment for everyone.
Kung Fu Panda
04. Up (2009)
One of the finest films of all time, Up took everyone by surprise by creating the most heartfelt and heartbreaking beginning to any film. An adventurous story with a 70 year old man doesn't sound very appealing, but just leave it to Pixar to create a magical film from that. Brimming with wonderful supporting characters and colourful animation, Up rose to the top in what I think has been the strongest year of nominees so far.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells
03. Spirited Away (2002)
Miyazaki is considered the best living animator, and with good reason. If you need any proof, just look at what is arguably his best film. The only non-American film to win the award, Spirited Away is a complex and powerful story about a girl on a quest to save her parents and discover who she truly is. Full of bizarre characters, symbolism and wonderful character animation, Spirited Away is one of the best films ever and one of Ghibli's most enduring classics. Even in a very competitive year like 2002, no other film was a match for Miyazaki's unlimited imagination.
Lilo & Stitch
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
02. Toy Story 3 (2010)
Sequels are a tricky proposition, but Pixar managed to create not one, but two, great sequels to its debut film. Toy Story 3 is the culmination of a wonderful journey that began in 1995; whereas most sequels feel forced, Toy Story 3 feels like an organic completion to Woody and the rest of the gang's story. Though it's full of humour and action, the story is nonetheless one of the most heartfelt in the history of cinema. The film speaks to audiences on many levels and everyone can relate to its story. Toy Story 3 is not only the culmination of a wonderful trilogy, but also a testament to Pixar's mastery with animation.
How To Train Your Dragon
01. The Incredibles (2004)
My favorite Pixar film and one of my favourite films of all time, The Incredibles is the best film that has won the Oscar in this category. The Incredibles is also the best superhero film ever made, because it's not only about people with extraordinary powers, but also about a dysfunctional family just trying to fit in. The film succeeds because it treat its characters like humans and each one of them has to deal with their particular dramas. They must figure out how to be a family in order to be strong, and that's something that speaks to all audiences. It also helps that it has a witty script and spectacular action sequences, making it an exhilarating experience.
Shark Tale (I still can't believe this one got nominated...)
How do you rank the best animated feature winners? Let us know in the comments!