Cowell ‘crossing fingers’ for Dragon 3 Oscar win

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Image caption Cowell is the author of the How To Train Your Dragon novel series

One intriguing subplot at this year’s Oscars can be found in the animated feature film category, where the third How To Train Your Dragon film is up against Toy Story 4.

There’s previous here, as it was Toy Story 3 that stopped the first How To Train Your Dragon winning this award in 2011.

How To Train Your Dragon 2 also lost out in 2015 (to Big Hero 6), so this is the final opportunity for DreamWorks’ fire-breathing franchise to take home an Oscar.

Set in and around a Viking land called Berk, the series tells of a young warrior called Hiccup and his adventures with his loyal dragon Toothless.

One person who’ll definitely be rooting for How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is Cressida Cowell, the British author (and Children’s Laureate) whose books inspired the series.

“I so want them to get it, I can’t tell you how much,” she told BBC News last month. “I’m crossing my fingers, I’m crossing my toes… I’m crossing absolutely everything.

“I could not be prouder of these movies and I really want them to get the Oscar they so deserve.”

Authors aren’t always pleased by adaptations of their books. Yet Cowell said she had found the process “really enjoyable”.

“I’ve loved the whole thing,” she declared. “It has been really fascinating to have an insight into a world I wasn’t really intending to end up in.”

Another bonus is the number of new young readers the films’ success has brought her way.

“Often people see the films as a sort of rival,” she said. “But I’m passionate about getting books in the hands of all children and the films have been wonderful for doing that.”

Two Netflix titles, Klaus and I Lost My Body, are also nominated this year, as is stop-motion animation Missing Link.

If the latter film doesn’t win, it will be the fifth time that Laika – the studio previously nominated for Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls and 2016’s Kubo and the Two Strings – goes home empty-handed.

Image copyright Netflix
Image caption Klaus tells an alternative version of the Santa Claus origin story

Missing Link was crowned best animated film at the Golden Globes in January, while Klaus – an alternative version of the Santa Claus origin story – won the equivalent prize at the Bafta Film Awards last weekend.

Those films are generally considered to be the front runners in a category that has only been part of the Academy Awards since 2002.

Director Chris Butler was nominated, alongside fellow Brit Sam Fell, when ParaNorman was shortlisted for the animated film Oscar in 2013.

The Liverpool native describes Missing Link as “a kaleidoscopic travelogue” in which a 19th Century English explorer goes in search of a fabled Sasquatch creature.

“I started writing this 15 or so years ago, and the idea was to have a stop motion version of Indiana Jones,” he told the BBC last year.

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Media captionOscar-nominated film writer and director Chris Butler’s top tips

Hugh Jackman provides the voice for the heroic Sir Lionel Frost, while Zach Galifianakis voices the Yeti he discovers in America’s Pacific Northwest.

“Stop motion has a grand tradition of animated ape-men going all the way back to King Kong [1933], so I thought he was the perfect fit for this medium,” Butler continued.

Missing Link was not a box office success when it came out last April, barely recouping a quarter of its reported $100m (£77m) budget.

Toy Story 4, in contrast, made more than $1.07bn (£821m) worldwide, narrowly exceeding the $1.06bn (£813mn) that Toy Story 3 grossed in 2010.

The 92nd Academy Awards will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles on 9 February.

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