'Wolfwalkers': What to Know About the Oscar-Nominated Animated Feature Film

The Irish film Wolfwalkers is nominated for an Oscar in the Animated Feature Film of the Year category. Even die-hard movie buffs may have missed this underdog entry, but it is worth catching some time before the award show. Even in a fierce competition, some critics say Wolfwalkers has a shot at the trophy.

Wolfwalkers is set in a fairytale version of Ireland, where magic rules the world. It follows a young girl named Robyn Goodfellow, who travels to Ireland with her father as an apprentice hunter to help him wipe out the last wolf pack. However, Robyn meets a free-spirited girl named Mebh, who is a member of an Irish tribe with curious magical abilities. The two go on an adventure of discovery — for better or worse.

Wolfwalkers was co-produced by Cartoon Saloon and Mélusine Productions and is actually the third installment of a film series called the Irish Folklore Trilogy. Directors Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart started the trilogy with The Secret of Kells in 2009, followed by Song of the Sea in 2014. Both of those movies were also nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, but neither won.

This might be the year for the whole series to get its due. As before, Wolfwalkers is acclaimed for its distinct animation — a woodblock aesthetic with lots of room for improvisation. Song of the Sea was hand-drawn, though it is not clear if Wolfwalkers was as well. Regardless, the animation is one of the biggest pieces to set this movie apart.

It also has an A-list cast that doesn't hurt its chances, either. Robyn's father, Bill is voiced by Sean Bean, known for Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. The cast also includes Eva Whittaker, Tommy Tiernan and Simon Montagu McBurney, among others.

Finally, Wolfwalkers has the added advantage of visibility this year, thanks to its acquisition by Apple TV+. The movie first premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September of 2020, then had a limited run in theaters before moving onto streaming services. Hopefully, this makes it more recognizable to viewers around the world and helps its chances at the Oscars.

Still, Wolfwalkers is up against some tough competition this year, and it's hard to imagine some of them losing. The other nominees in the category are Netflix's Over the Moon and A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Famageddon, as well as two Pixar movies — Onward and Soul. Pixar is such a titanic force in the animation world that Wolfwalkers may not be able to outstrip its momentum.

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Fans can hold out hope. Wolfwalkers is streaming now on Apple TV+. The 93rd Academy Awards will be live on Sunday, April 25 on ABC.