It’s June, but has ‘Inside Out’ already won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature?

Apologies if this sounds forward, but the race for Best Animated Picture is over.  Pixar”s “Inside Out,” the company”s first original production since 2012″s “Brave,” arrives in theaters today with some of the most glowing reviews in the company”s history.  For anyone else in the animated Oscar race that”s very bad news.

At the time of this post, the Disney release has a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes with 170 positive reviews and just 3 negative opinions.  On Metacritic “Inside Out” has an overall grade of 93 including 21 100 grades featuring raves from key critics A.O. Scott at the New York Times and Kenneth Turan at the Los Angeles Times.  Many in Cannes thought it was a crime the picture wasn”t in competition and it”s expected to be Pixar”s second biggest opening since “The Incredibles” in 2004 (impressive considering “Jurassic World” will still be no. 1).  There is no controversy. There is no disappointment.  “Inside Out” is going to be a big summer hit and that DVD will come around just in time for screener season.

Frankly, if Disney”s “Big Hero 6” could easily defeat the more critically acclaimed “How To Train Your Dragon 2” last year, Pixar and Disney have even less to worry about this upcoming season.  DreamWorks Animation”s “Home” will get some attention, but it isn”t even a slam dunk to make the five.  “Minions” is getting positive reviews so far, but at this point a nomination would be the win. “Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet” and Aardman”s “Shaun the Sheep Movie” will have support in the Animation Branch, but no one who has seen either believes they are strong enough to beat a Pixar flick.  Pixar has some in-house competition with “The Good Dinosaur,” but the studio would be satisfied with solid reviews and strong box office after a late director change on that production.  Wait, what about Sony Animation”s “Hotel Transylvania 2” you ask?  Well, if the first one couldn”t sniff a nod….

Frankly, the only hint of competition comes from 20th Century Fox and Blue Sky Studio”s “The Peanuts Movie” and that”s a Hell Mary pass at best.  The latest trailer for the November release got a fantastic response and, if it”s good, critics may be inclined to reward director Steve Martino for finding a way to bring Charles M. Schulz”s iconic creations into the 21st Century while still respecting the original source material (no easy task).  Still, the hyperbole and love for “Peanuts” would have to be epic to screw up the winning path “Inside Out” has laid out before it.

In fact, soon the chatter won”t be about whether “Inside Out” will win the Animated Oscar, but whether it”s a lock for a traditional Best Picture nod.  Obviously, you can argue this is all slightly premature. It's not even July 1.

That doesn't mean it's wrong.

“Inside Out” is now playing nationwide.

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