With Oscar season in full-swing and pundits' predictions being changed each and every day, we are once again faced with the seemingly yearly question: Will the Pixar film be nominated for Best Picture? Last year it was WALL-E, in 2007 it was Ratatouille, and this year it is Up. All three films have certainly received good enough reviews to be among the final nominees, but up until this point, only Beauty and the Beast (1991) has received a Best Picture nomination as an animated film. 

The Academy did something very peculiar this year by expanding the number of Best Picture nominees from five to ten. Ever since that happened, Up has seemed like a lock for a Best Picture nomination, but the film's buzz has continuously died down since its release back in late May. I can't help but thinking that it will get passed over for a nomination, and how scary would that be? In other words, if the Academy doubles the number of Best Picture nominees and still doesn't find room for Up -- easily one of the year's best reviewed films -- among them, then when will we ever see another animated film in the Best Picture category?

If Up does indeed get looked over in the Best Picture category, it could still win the Animated Feature Oscar, right? Sure, but does that even count for anything? It seems to me that the Academy created this category so they would have the luxury of passing up these films when coming up with their Best Picture nominees. There is no doubt that more than a handful of animated films in the past decade have been successful enough -- critically and commercially -- to warrant Best Picture nominations, yet most of them have had to settle for the Animated Feature Oscar.

When it comes right down to it, it is almost a pity award. I find it very unlikely that Andrew Stanton (WALL-E, Finding Nemo) and Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) have accepted their Oscars without the slightest bit of disappointment. In the end, I see that Oscar as almost worthless. It's basically the Academy saying, "We're not going to nominate you for Best Picture, but we are going to create a category with three nominees so we can recognize your film". Who even cares at that point? I would be surprised to find a strong WALL-E supporter from last year that didn't feel any anger when Andrew Stanton accepted his Oscar. 

What I'm getting at here is simply this: Should this category be eliminated? I think it should. The Academy needs to stop being let off the hook and start making some bold decisions. Maybe I'm misreading things, but if I was a director accepting an Animated Feature Oscar for my film, I would be feeling much more contempt than affection towards the Academy. 


LuckyCricket said...

Interesting point. It would certainly be more interesting to see films of more variety in the best picture category, or seeing an animated film actually win best picture. I agree that the move may also be a pity move.

Anonymous said...

Well, if they're going to have 10 nominees. I don't see the point of segregating animated films when truly great ones (such as Up) can validly receive a nomination.

If Up doesn't get a Best Picture nomination this year, then the Academy is definitely on something illegal.

Danny King said...

@ LuckyCricket: The Academy said that one of their main reasons to expand to ten nominees was so that they could have the liberty to add variety to the Best Picture cateogry, so hopefully they follow through with that.

@ Anon: Agreed on both points. With ten nominees, if an animated film is truly good enough, it shouldn't be limited to the Animated category.

DEZMOND said...

I totally disagree with you. It doesn't matter whether movies from this category should be compared to the ones in the main movie category. It's not the quality or the cinematical importance or the artistic value that is marked here, but the achievement in animation. The process of making an animated movie is a very very special and difficult one, and that's why animated movies need to have their own category as they do.

I really don't see, why and how we should put them in the same competition with non-animated movies. It's like comparing opera singer and pop singer. Both can be good and amazing, but are so different in their technique and performance, that you just can't mix them under the same label.

And I think that your remark that this is a category made just out of pity is pretty offensive and undermining for all the people who work in animation and have received an Oscar in that category (although I'm more than sure you didn't mean it that way).

Danny King said...

@ DEZMOND: I definitely didn't mean it to be offensive towards the filmmakers. If anything, I meant it to be offensive towards the Academy, but I appreciate your opinion.

I'm not quite sure how accurate your comment is that this category is solely based off of achievement in animation. After all, the category is titled "Best Animated Feature Film of the Year," so the cinematical importance and artistic value is no doubt part of that. The only animated films considered for this category are the ones that get the most positive reviews, similar to the Best Picture category.

If you feel strongly about the process of making an animated film, perhaps it might make more sense to refer to the technical awards. Based on what you said, it seems that they should think about segregating animated awards for the technical films.

I also think that when you address the process of making an animated movie as a "very very special and difficult one, and that's why animated movies need to have their own category," you are excluding every other type of film.

There is something special and difficult about every good film that is made. If you feel animated movies should be segregated, then why not comedies, action movies, romances, or sports films be any different?

Anonymous said...

If you eliminated the Animated Feature Film category, you have to do the same for Documentary and Foreign Language films.

I don't think eliminating any of these categories would help their chances of getting Best Picture nominations. The Academy has made it clear they think of them as categorically inferior.

Danny King said...

@ James D.: I guess I single out the Animated category because that's the one that seems to stir up the most controversy, especially with WALL-E last year. I think it's tough to compare the Animated category to the Foreign Language category one because it is so tough to get nominated as a foreign film and there are tons of great foreign films that haven't been nominated. In the Animated category, the best reviewed films are almost always nominated, and there usually doesn't seem to be many complaints about the winner.

The reason that this might increase an animated film's Best Picture chances is because of the increase to ten nominees. The Academy has made it clear that they want to have a diverse Best Picture category, but the question is are they truly willing to nominate an animated film over a non-animated film in that 9th or 10th spot.

DEZMOND said...

because comedies, actions, thrillers, dramas ... are all made with actors, who transmit the message of the film through their acting, look, expression etc.
Animated films don't have that. In order to be successful in transmitting their message they have to have good animators and authors. That's why they deserve the special category that they have. Otherwise, as you know, most people wouldn't put them in a run for the main award.
That's why animated movies, documentaries .... have and need to have their own categories as well. For professional reasons.

People sometimes forget, that those awards are not there because of the viewers, critics, and all of us who write about movies, but for the people who work in movies, who dedicate their lives to the creative process of making films.

Danny King said...

@ DEZMOND: Not to be repetitive, but you are once again referring to the technical aspect of animated filmmaking. If an animated film can be successful simply with creative animation, then what would be the point of story and emotion? Can you really compare a film like Up to Monsters vs. Aliens?

In addition, animated characters can just as easily make expressions and looks like real actors can, albeit it that it is through a technical process, but a heartfelt gesture given by Carl from Up can be just as effective as one given by a real actor in a non-animated movie.

Even though all non-animated movies have actors, it doesn't mean that communicating emotion through gestures is the same for a superhero film versus a romantic period piece. Every single film needs to have good authors and directors in order to successfully transmit their message.

Anonymous said...

It's called "Best Feature Film of the Year". Not "Best Live-Action Feature Film of the Year". Of course animated films should be able to be nominated for Best Picture.

Danny King said...

@ Anon: Agreed.

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