Laika Just Cleared the Path for Its First Academy Award

The Hillsboro stop-motion studio netted its first-ever Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature last night.

By Conner Reed January 6, 2020

Missing Link took the prize for Best Animated Feature at the Golden Globes last night.

The 77th annual Golden Globes were last night, and they were as exhausting as everCate Blanchett introduced Joker, Ricky Gervais coughed out "sharp-edged" "jokes" for Bill Maher and no one else, and the network overlords bleeped Joaquin Phoenix's proclamation that the whole thing was little more than a publicity stunt anyway. 

The list of winners was a mostly-steady mix of unsurprising and disappointing, with a few notable exceptions—one being Missing Link's win for Best Animated Feature. The mid-spring Bigfoot-themed money pit from Laika was a box office bomb, barely recouping a quarter of its $100 million budget, and once it quietly shuffled out of theaters, many branded it a misfire in the studio's sterling catalogue. In reality, it's a thoughtful, gorgeous adventure whose win in the historically Pixar-dominated category will (hopefully) encourage more people to check it out while it's streaming on Hulu.

Using the Golden Globes to predict the Oscars is, like searching for Bigfoot, an inexact science often reserved for the foam-mouthed fanatical. The difference is that I watch a lot of movies and don't own a sturdy pair of hiking boots.

Mapping wins from the major categories—acting, directing, screenplay, picture—is, to be sure, a fool's errand. Anything goes. If 1917, the winner of last night's top prize, takes the Oscar for Best Picture, I will publicly condemn Amy Adams' work in Sharp Objects. However, the Foreign Press and the Academy are remarkably consistent in their animation tastes.

The Oscar category is five years older (Shrek was the inaugural winner in 2002) but in the 13 years that the Globes and the Academy have handed out statues to animated films, they’ve crowned the same title 10 times. Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings, Laika’s most-acclaimed titles, lost both trophies to Up and Zootopia, respectively. Last night’s win was the studio’s first Golden Globe, and it’s not wrong to speculate an Oscar’s in its future.

Writer-director Chris Butler and producer Arianne Sutner, both visibly shocked, accepted the award at last night’s ceremony. “Well,” Butler said, taking a hefty pause. “I am—I’m flabbergasted.” See the full speech below, and breathe a sigh of relief knowing that your Oscar ballot just got a little easier to complete.

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