7 Animated Films Academy Award Voters Should Not Miss This Awards Season

The ongoing animated feature Oscar race seems as wide open as ever.

A record 33 films were submitted for this year's animated feature Oscar race. Choosing the best five from among them is a major challenge for Academy voters.

Below we have selected seven titles that voters should take a closer look at before casting their ballots.

Director Pablo Berger

Country Spain

The best animated feature film in Europe this year, at least according to the European Film Awards, is Robot Dreams, the debut feature by Spanish director Pablo Berger. Adapted from the graphic novel of the same name by Sarah Vallon, "Robot Dreams" reflects themes of friendship, loss, and how memory and imagination can help us cope. Like the graphic novel, the film has no dialogue, and despite the fact that it features only animals and robots, nothing is needed to tell one of the most human stories of the year. The film's astonishingly accomplished quality is doubly impressive when one considers that the charming and expressive 2D animation was handled by Pop-Up Studios, which Berger founded in downtown Madrid when the original contract with Cartoon Saloon was scrapped by Pandemic.

Director Xiaopeng Tian

Country China

One of the most visually striking animated feature films of the year and one of the highest grossing. Deep Sea" is currently the 10th highest grossing animated feature film of the year at the worldwide box office, yet most people around the world have yet to see it. Shen Xiu, a young girl abandoned by her mother, is plagued by nightmares of a creature called "Nightmare." While on a cruise with her family, Shen Shu is lured on deck during a storm and is swept out to sea. The film's colors, lighting, music, sound, and animation are all breathtakingly beautiful. If this film had been produced and distributed in the United States, no title would have generated as much buzz. It features some of the most exciting and inventive use of CG in animated feature films in recent years.

Directed by Takehiko Inoue

Country Japan

Directed by Takehiko Inoue, Slam Dunk was the biggest commercial hit of the year in Japan. The film is characterized by its flashy basketball action scenes and its counterpoint of emotional flashbacks. Two strong contenders are Hayao Miyazaki's "The Boy and the Hare" and Makoto Shinkai's "Suzume. Still, "First Slam Dunk" deserves to be on par with those films.

Director Signe Baumane

Country Latvia, USA, Luxembourg

"A Love Affair to Marriage" is a first-person story about a young Zelma who, through songs and fairy tales, becomes convinced that love will one day solve all her problems. As she grows up, however, Zelma realizes that the world she lives in is far from the one she was promised. The film, a coming-of-age story that follows most of the protagonist's life, is also interspersed with biological aspects that provide a scientific explanation for much of what Zelma is experiencing. Lessons on brain chemistry, anthropology, and the structure of romantic love provide the audience with a master class in human behavior. Few feature films this year have been as personal and emotional as Baumane's "My Love Affair with Marriage."

Directed by Alée Abreu

Country Brazil

"Perlimps" is the latest feature from Academy Award-nominated director Alée Abreu (The Boy and the World). Set in a colorful tropical rainforest, this Brazilian film follows anthropomorphic wolf and bear agents Clée and Brúo, who represent the solar and lunar kingdoms, respectively. Breathtaking visuals and innovative light effects are complemented by top-class sound engineering and an often startling soundtrack.

Director Kajsa Næss

Country Norway, Belgium

The Norwegian-Belgian co-production Titina is based on actual events and tells the story of the North Pole expedition by airship in the 1920s. The ship carries Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, Italian aviator Umberto Nobile, and Nobile's dog Titina. 's feature directorial debut. While certainly family-friendly together, it is not particularly aimed at children, and adults, especially history buffs, will get as much or more out of the story.

Directed by Robert Smigel, David Wachtenheim, Robert Marianetti

Country of Origin USA

While the other films on this list are independent or small-budget foreign productions, "Leo" has the backing of Netflix and the power of " Hotel Transylvania" franchise and features many of the same team that contributed to its production. It also stars and was produced by Adam Sandler, which helped raise its profile and made it arguably the biggest debut ever for a Netflix original animated film. Leo" features impressive CG animation by Australia's Animal Logic (owned by Netflix) and fun songs that make the movie a joy from start to finish. It should be mentioned alongside other major CG animated films released this year, such as "Mario," "Elemental," and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem."