PORTLAND — Phil Knight’s Hillsboro, Ore., animators will be back at the Academy Awards next month – perhaps with their best shot at winning.
Oregon animation studio Laika’s latest movie, “Missing Link,” was nominated for best animated feature. The film was an upset winner at the Golden Globes last week, giving it a leg up heading into the February Oscar derby.
Each of Laika’s four previous movies also was nominated for best animated feature. Its last film, “Kubo and the Two Strings,” also was nominated for best visual effects. None of those prior movies produced an Oscar winner, though.
This year’s other animated feature nominees are “Toy Story 4,” “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” “I Love My Body” and “Klaus.”
“Missing Link” is something of an underdog story. The film struggled at the box office, collecting just $26 million worldwide after its April release. The film likely cost at least double that to produce.
As with Laika’s other films, though, “Missing Link” was a critical favorite. Animation enthusiasts loved its handcrafted style and offbeat story and Knight’s studio funded a lavish promotional campaign to raise the film’s profile heading into awards season.
Laika makes all its films using a distinctive technique known as stop motion. Its animators manipulate puppets a single frame at a time to simulate motion.
Knight, Nike’s co-founder, owns the studio and his son Travis Knight is both a Laika animator and the company’s CEO. Travis Knight directed “Kubo” in 2017 and then took a hiatus to direct a live-action Transformers film, “Bumblebee.” He returned to Hillsboro as the company began work on its sixth film, whose title has yet to be announced.
The Academy Awards ceremony is the evening of Feb. 9.