Oscars 2024: 'War Is Over', 'The Boy and the Heron' Win in Animation

Oscar 2024 winners in animation collage

After last year's stop-motion winner (Guillermo Del Toro and Mark Gustafson for 'Pinocchio'), the Academy Award for Best Animation Feature returned to 2D animation (and hand-drawn animation in particular).

'The Boy and the Heron' by Hayao Miyazaki and producer Toshio Suzuki (Studio Ghibli, Japan) gave the Japanese master his second Academy Award - 22 years after his first victory with 'Spirited Away' in 2002. Miyazaki is the only non-US person with 4 Academy Award nominations in the animation feature category.

After losing his mother, Mahito moves to the country with his father and new stepmother, Natsuko, and encounters a mysterious gray heron. When Natsuko suddenly goes missing, Mahito, guided by the heron, must find her by venturing into a dream-like realm where the living and the dead coexist.

'The Boy and the Heron' is only the third non-US animation feature to be awarded in this category since its institution in 2021 ('Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit' is the only European one)..

The other candidates

  • Elemental' by Peter Sohn and Denise Ream (US)
  • 'Nimona' by Nick Bruno, Troy Quane, Karen Ryan, and Julie Zackary (US)
  • 'Robot Dreams' by Pablo Berger, Ibon Cormenzana, Ignasi Estapé and Sandra Tapia Díaz (France/Spain)
  • 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse' by Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Amy Pascal (US)

Hayo Miyazaki and producer Toshio Suzuki were both absent after the Academy Award. A message from Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki was read after the ceremony, highlighting the difficulties of the projects (7 years to get it made), and the changing landscape of the film since Miyazaki's last Oscar nomination with 'The Wind Rises' (2013).

In Best Animation Short, the US won. The Pixar alumnus Dave Mullins (director of the Oscar-nominated 'Lou', and animator in 'Finding Nemo', 'Up') here teamed with both the Lennon estate and Peter Jackson (WetaFX) to create an anti-war short based on Lennon's 'Happy Xmas! War Is Over' song. The animation short 'War Is Over! Inspired by the Music of John & Yoko'  is a production of the new, LA-based animation studio Electroleague (with Mullins as its CFO).

Set in an alternate WWI reality where a senseless war rages on, two soldiers on opposite sides of the conflict play a joyful game of chess. A heroic carrier pigeon delivers the soldiers' chess moves over the battlefield as the fighting escalates

Here's the trailer:

The other candidates

  • 'Letter to a Pig' by Tal Kantor and Amit R. Gicelter (France/Israel)
  • 'Ninety-Five Senses' by Jared Hess and Jerusha Hess (US)
  • 'Our Uniform' by Yegane Moghaddam (Iran)
  • 'Pachyderm' by Stephanié Clement and Marc Rius (France).

Here's the Oscars 2024 Press Q&A

The 96th Academy Awards was held on Sunday, March 10, 2024, at the Dolby® Theatre at Ovation Hollywood

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