The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences seems to be afraid of change. That’s probably why it took them the better part of a century to finally add a “Best Animated Feature” category to the Oscar ceremony. The award was first given out in 2001, when Shrek took home the prize, and for two short years it seemed as though conventional “wisdom” might lose out, and Disney wouldn’t dominate the category after all. Spirited Away won the year right after that.
But since then Disney has clearly dominated the category, with eleven of the sixteen Best Animated Feature Oscar wins going to the vaunted “House of Mouse,” either directly or via Pixar. This year was no different: Zootopia took home the Oscar at the 89th Annual Academy Awards, beating out Disney’s own animated musical Moana, the stop-motion animated adventure Kubo and the Two Strings, the stop-motion childhood drama My Life as a Zucchini, and the Studio Ghibli co-production The Red Turtle.
There’s no denying that Zootopia is a worthy motion picture. Disney’s foray into the world of buddy cop movies takes place in a highly detailed but highly volatile world where all animals co-exist in anthropomorphized society, leading to rapid fire jokes that require multiple viewings to catch. It is also, in an unexpected twist, one of the most political movies of the year, examining in some detail how racial relations and social stereotypes foster a culture ruled, tragically, by fear.
But now the time has come to think about how Zootopia will be remembered. Was it really the “Best Animated Feature” of 2016? Just has importantly, how does it stack up to the other Oscar winners so far? Does Zootopia hold up to the Pixar classics, or to the works of Hayao Miyazaki?
Let’s take a look at our rankings of all the Best Animated Feature Oscar winners so far, and try to suss out how big Zootopia really is.
All 16 Best Animated Feature Oscar Winners: Ranked
[Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include the latest Best Animated Feature Oscar winners.]
Top Photo: Walt Disney
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and Canceled Too Soon, and watch him on the weekly YouTube series What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.