Reintroduction of Animation Category for Critics' Choice Award announces nominations

With the Golden Globes engulfed in scandal, the Critics Choice Awards are hoping to usurp their place in the awards season. Symbolically, the Critics Choice Association (CCA) announced their nominations yesterday - the same day as the Globes - and will reveal winners on January 9, again like the Globes.

The animated feature nominees almost mirror the Globes' choices too. Disney's Encanto and Raya and the Last Dragon are both up, as is Pixar's Luca. (Encanto also has a nomination for best song.) European documentary Flee, the year's most acclaimed indie animated feature, is nominated here too, as well as in the foreign-language film category.

But whereas the Globes surprised us by nominating My Sunny Maad, an Afghanistan-set drama from Europe, the CCA has plumped for the The Mitchells vs. the Machines. The feature, produced by Sony Pictures Animation and released by Netflix, has been critically acclaimed and widely seen as an Oscar favorite - a status this nomination helps restore after the Globes' snub.

The Critics Choice Awards' animation category has served as a reliable bellwether for the Oscars. In the 19 years in which the two ceremonies honored animated features, they picked the same film 16 times.

But it's noteworthy that the Critics Choice Awards will have an animation category at all in 2022. Last year, the CCA announced a new spin-off ceremony, the Critics Choice Super Awards, focused on genre and popular entertainment - including animation, which the organization lumped into this bracket. The inaugural edition was held on January 10, 2021, with Pixar's Soul being named best animated movie. No animation prize was handed out at the main Critics Choice Awards, which were presented on March 7, 2021.

At the time, CCA CEO Joey Berlin explained the decision to spin categories off into the Super Awards: “We have given out best horror movie and action movie and animated series and those things [at the Critics Choice Awards], and they often didn't get on the air.” He also said about the Super Awards, “I think it is going to be really entertaining. I think it can really grow into its own annual event.”

But now the CCA appears to have quietly reintroduced the animated feature category into the Critics Choice Awards. Meanwhile, there is no word on a second edition of the Super Awards; the CCA's website makes no mention of one.

The organization has also announced the nominees for best visual effects (a category that was never moved to the Super Awards). Of the five films, two - The Matrix Resurrections and Nightmare Alley - have yet to be released. The other three are all in the top ten at the 2021 global box office.

The animation and vfx nominees in the two categories are below: