Awards season has finally begun! Disney has officially launched their For Your Consideration site, where they are promoting all their 2016 releases for precursor awards like the Annies, Golden Globes, and critics' awards — which all eventually lead up to the prestigious Academy Awards, or Oscars, the end-goal in awards season.

Pixar's Finding Dory and Piper will be in contention this year as part of Disney's slate.

The following Disney releases are currently being promoted for awards consideration:

Captain America: Civil War (Marvel)
Doctor Strange (Marvel)
Finding Dory (Pixar)
The Jungle Book (Walt Disney Studios)
Moana (Walt Disney Animation Studios)
Queen of Katwe (Walt Disney Studios)
Zootopia (Walt Disney Animation Studios)

I'm expecting Pixar's Piper, as well as The BFGRouge One: A Star Wars Story, and potentially Pete's Dragon and Alice Through the Looking Glass to be added in the future, or added just to Disney's Oscar-specific site later on.

Disney's Oscar-specific site is not yet up and running yet, but a strong showing at the minor awards that come first raises a film's profile amongst the industry members who afterwards also vote for the Oscars. Oscar nominations for 2016 films will be announced January 24th, 2017, while the Academy Awards ceremony, where the final winners are announced, will be on February 26.

Until then, Disney's awards office will probably be hard at work promoting Finding Dory amongst industry members, and we may soon be seeing more FYC material (remember those gorgeous Inside Out FYC posters last year?).

Anyway, for now, here's some brief, early Oscar predictions of mine:

Best Animated Short Film
This category's predictions are made significantly easier when the shortlist of films eligible for nomination is announced in a few weeks. For now though, I think it's safe to assume that Piper will be a major frontrunner.

Best Animated Feature Film
The following films are listed in order of likelihood to receive an Oscar nomination, as gauged subjectively by me. These predictions will probably change as awards season goes on ... though last year I did predict 4/5 of the nominees [smile]

Predicted nominees:
1) Kubo and the Two Strings (Laika)
2) The Red Turtle (Studio Ghibli/Sony Pictures Classics)
3) My Life as a Zucchini (GKIDS)
4) Moana (WDAS)
5) Zootopia (WDAS)

Major threats:
6) April and the Extraordinary World (GKIDS)
7) Finding Dory (Pixar) 
8) Miss Hokusai (GKIDS)
9) Long Way North (Shout! Factory)
10) Phantom Boy (GKIDS)

Long shots & dark horses:
11) Kung Fu Panda 3 (DreamWorks)
12) The Little Prince (Netflix)
13) Sing (Illumination)
14) Sausage Party (Sony)
15) Revengeance (Plymptoons)

Best Original Score
Tbd, at this state of the race nobody has any idea what's going on in the Original Score category. Unlike animated feature, where there's a limited number of contenders, here all films are in contention. Finding Dory composer Thomas Newman is considered a favorite to score his fourteenth Oscar nomination (he was nominated last year for Bridge of Spies and was also nominated for Finding Nemo and WALL-E). If he does, perhaps he'll finally win this year? Some of Dory and Newman's *potential* big competition, listed in no particular order:

Passengers (Thomas Newman)
The BFG (John Williams)
Arrival (Johann Johannson)
Silence (TBD)
The Jungle Book (John Debney)
Moana (Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa'i, Mark Mancina)
Rouge One: A Star Wars Story (Michael Giacchino)
Florence Foster Jenkins (Alexandre Desplat)
The Light Between Oceans (Alexandre Desplat)
La La Land (Justin Hurwitz)
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (Mychael Danna, Jeff Danna)

Hopefully Piper doesn't disappoint, and although I'm being a bit pessimistic on Finding Dory right now (its best shot is at Best Original Score; it'll likely be snubbed for Animated Feature, and probably isn't at the level necessary for a serious Best Picture or Adapted Screenplay run), it's still very early in a very fluid season, so things may definitely change by the time it's January! 

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Small update:

Disney's Oscar-specific For Your Consideration site has now been updated!

Disney is officially submitting Finding Dory for Oscar consideration in the following categories:

BEST PICTURE (nominee-designate is producer Lindsey Collins)
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE (nominee-designates are director Andrew Stanton & producer Lindsey Collins)
BEST DIRECTOR (nominee-designate is director Andrew Stanton)
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY (nominee-designates are writers Andrew Stanton & Victoria Strouse)
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY (nominee-designates are Jeremy Lasky and Ian Meggiben)
BEST FILM EDITING (nominee-designate is Axel Geddes)
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN (nominee-designate is Steve Pilcher)
BEST SOUND MIXING (nominee-designates are Michael Semanick, Nathan Nance & Doc Kane)
BEST SOUND EDITING (nominee-designates are Tim Nielsen & Steve Slanec)
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS (nominee-designate is Chris J. Chapman)
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE (nominee-designate is Thomas Newman)

(unfortunately it looks like Ellen DeGeneres will not be submitted for Oscar consideration for Best Actress, despite the voice actors on Disney's The Jungle Book being submitted for consideration)

Of the nominee-designates across all categories, four have previous Oscar citations:
Andrew Stanton has two Oscar wins (both in Best Animated Feature for Finding Nemo and WALL-E) and four additional screenplay nominations for Toy Story, Finding Nemo, WALL-E and Toy Story 3.
Re-recording mixer Michael Semanick has two Oscar wins (both in Best Sound Mixing for [/i]LOTR: Return of the King[/i] and King Kong, with an additional eight nominations for Best Sound Mixing, including on Pixar features Ratatouille and WALL-E.
Original dialogue mixer Doc Kane has received for Oscar nominations for Best Sound Mixing, including on The Incredibles and Ratatouille. Both he and Semanick were also in contention last year for sound mixing on Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur.
Finally, composer Thomas Newman has received a whopping thirteen nominations without a single win yet, including on Pixar films Finding Nemo and WALL-E, both previous collaborations with Andrew Stanton. He is heavily favored to receive his fourteenth Oscar nomination this year, because the Academy's music branch wants him to win an Oscar and has consistently given him nominations in the hopes that the rest of the Academy will consider him in final voting.

Thomas Newman's soundtrack for Finding Dory has also been made available online for awards consideration:
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