Nominees for Best Animated Film

From 'Inside Out' to 'Anomalisa,' the animated films competing at this year's Academy Awards appeal to adults

In a year that gave moviegoers a stop-motion silent film, a puppet love scene and a plot that let Pixar artfully explore the emotion of sadness, it's safe to say that 2016's animated films aren't only for kids.

The Oscar nominees in the animated film category show depth and diversity in style and storytelling, a reflection on cinema as a whole this year. From Jurassic World to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the use of CGI, live action and visual effects in movies has shined — case in point, the second-most talked about character in the best-picture frontrunner The Revenant is the animated grizzly bear.

On Oscar night, Sunday, Feb. 28, the five features vying for best animated film honors are Inside Out, Anomalisa, Boy and the World, Shaun the Sheep Movie and When Marnie Was There.

Each couldn't be more different: One uses CGI, two are hand-drawn films and the other two are stop-motion, while the majority are foreign-made. The film budget for Disney/Pixar's Inside Out was $175 million, whereas both When Marnie Was There and Boy and the World come from an indie distributor and cost far less.

Yet no matter where they came from or how they were made, all five tell complex stories. Below, see how the nominees ventured into untold storytelling territory to earn their place on the 2016 Oscar must-see list.

Inside Out

In his THR review, Todd McCarthy said Inside Out — the popular film about the emotions Joy, Anger, Fear, Disgust and Sadness inside the head of a young girl named Riley — "has to be one the most conceptually trippy films ever made as a PG-rated popcorn picture for the general public."

Diving inside the mind of a child to explore her realm of feelings and thoughts, Pixar took a risk by telling a $175 million story that could have gone over the heads of its target audience. But the abstract plot attracted grown-ups and paid off well. After earning stellar reviews, moviegoers worldwide contributed to the film becoming the third-highest Pixar grosser ever at the box office.

Inside Out went on to clean up during awards season — winning 10 Annie Awards and best animated picture at the Golden Globes — and now heads into Oscar night as the category's frontrunner. (The pic also is nominated in the best original screenplay category, but will have to beat Spotlight to take home that prize.)

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