For me, in terms of story and quality, Moana deserved it much more. Moana just had so many “wow” moments like where I cried, got chills, or just had to take a breath to take it all in. It was just so beautiful with every element that got put in it: the voices, the story, the music, the culture.
I feel like the only reason Zootopia won was because of the messages it had in it, but I don’t think the theme should be the sole reason that the movie should win. Both Moana and Zootopia did wonderfully animation wise, but I think, compared to Moana, Zootopia falls flat. It needs to take in account, not just the message/theme, but also the story and the structure the narrative, the voice acting, the script, the music, etc. With this, I think Moana had much stronger elements.
Zootopia had an important message about poc, but they gave us that message by pretty much telling straight out, “Hey, don’t judge people without knowing them/accept everyone despite race, stereotypes, etc”
But Moana had much more than that.They showcased poc that are rarely seen in movie entertainment, celebrated their culture, and showed how beautiful, loving, and heartfelt the people of that culture are through their story telling- all around a theme of following your heart/finding out who you are.
There was more to Moana than just the message of the movie, and that’s why they should have won the Oscar.