It’s a bumper year for animation at the Oscars. With the nominations for its 94th year announced, the brilliant 2021 Danish animated documentary Flee has made history as the first film to be nominated across three distinct categories – Best Animated Feature, Documentary Feature, and International Feature – since the creation of the Animated Feature Film category in 2001. The feat is accompanied by an uptick in stop motion, analogue and innovative animation techniques throughout this year’s nominations, delivered particularly by the shorts.
Flee is the first documentary ever to be nominated for both the Best Animated Feature Film and Best Documentary Feature. The film, directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen and produced by Riz Ahmed, is also the second animated film to be nominated for International Feature Film, beaten to the punch by Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir in 2008 – although even the lauded Bashir didn’t achieve a nomination for Best Documentary Feature. The film follows Amin Nawabi, as he tells the true story of how he left Afghanistan for Denmark as a refugee, before he marries his fiancée. Alongside the highly decorated Flee, the expected presence of Walt Disney and Netflix features throughout the Best Animated Feature Film nominations, with Raya and the Last Dragon, Luca, The Mitchells vs. the Machines and Encanto all making the cut.
Among the shorts, the 2021 Chilean animation Bestia, from Hugo Covarrubias and Tevo Díaz, brings analogue techniques to the fore with innovative use of materials and stop motion – and some startling porcelain-like characters. Aardman supplies another stop-motion entry with Robin Robin, by Dan Ojari and Mikey Please, while Joanna Quinn and Les Mills’ Affairs of the Art sees 2D hand-drawn paper animation represented through the tale of a Welsh heroine and her obsession with drawing. Anton Dyakov’s Boxballet and Alberto Mielgo and Leo Sanchez’s The Windshield Wiper also secured nominations, the latter using key-frame animation and CG to similar effect as 2019’s Best Animated Feature-winner, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which has production links to the short.
You can read the full 2021 Academy Awards shortlist here.
Jonas Poher Rasmussen: Flee (Copyright © Neon, 2021)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.