GKIDS has amassed 10 nominations for Best Animated Feature across seven of the nine Oscar ceremonies since the company was founded in 2008. The American film distributor has usually been nominated for films not favored for nominations and always for films that gross under $1 million at the domestic box office; the most recent was last year’s international co-production “The Breadwinner,” which won the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature (Independent). GKIDS has never won the Oscar, but it trails only Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures among film distributors in Best Animated Feature nominations in the last decade, and it could add another one in January.
GKIDS’s slate this year includes “Fireworks,” “Lu Over the Wall,” “MFKZ” and “The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl,” all from Japan. Its most critically acclaimed contender is “Mirai,” which boasts 100 percent approval on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 7.6/10 from 14 reviews. In May, “Mirai” became the first Japanese anime to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. It has grossed $25 million USD in Japan since its release in July, making it the seventh highest-grossing Japanese film in Japan this year. “Mirai” made its North American debut last month at the Vancouver International Film Festival, where this writer saw it. The Animation is Film Festival this month will feature the American premiere, as well as the world premiere of an English-dubbed version, with the film set for a limited release next month.
“Mirai” follows a 4-year-old boy named Kun who struggles to accept his new baby sister Mirai, whose name means “future” in Japanese. The future version of Mirai, as well as past and imagined forms of others in the life of Kun and his family, appear to Kun to impart wisdom and engage in hijinks across time and space, with a climax reminiscent of that of “Interstellar.” Cartoon physics and shifting narrative logic under writer-director Mamoru Hosoda result in punchlines that feel otherworldly to the likes of DreamWorks Animation and Pixar, and the emotional beats are just as resonant.
Variety’s Peter DeBruge wrote in his review, “It’s the work of a true auteur (in what feels like his most personal film yet) presented as innocuous family entertainment. […] Emotionally speaking, ‘Mirai’ reaches deeper, aided by a lovely, featherweight score from Masakatsu Takagi.” The Hollywood Reporter’s Leslie Felperin wrote, “It’s a charming, resonant work […] Hosoda has a lovely, light touch and leavens the proceedings with dry, well-observed humor.”
The Best Animated Feature category was recently added to our predictions center, so be sure to consider “Mirai” when making your picks.
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