Animation at the Academy Awards


As most know, the Academy Awards were last night. As usual I watched them, halfheartedly, not really interested in anything outside of the Best Animated Feature, Best Animated Short Film and Best Original Score categories. I wasn’t even interested in the score category this year, as none that I loved were even nominated.

For the Best Animated Feature category however, we had a good number of extremely well-done films. From the big U.S. hits like DreamWorks How to Train Your Dragon 2, Walt Disney Animation Studios Big Hero 6 and Laika’s The Boxtrolls, to the smaller housed foreign films like Studio Ghibli’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya and Cartoon Saloon’s Song of the Sea.

Now, none of these companies are shy of hitting the Academy before. Walt Disney Animation Studios is nominated almost yearly, winning last year for their box office sensation Frozen. DreamWorks, the same, actually being the first studio to win the category when it was created in 2001 with their film Shrek. Laika has been nominated with both of their previous films Coraline and ParaNorman. The small Irish studio, Cartoon Saloon had been nominated in 2009, alongside Coraline for their film The Secret of Kells. Studio Ghibli has received nominations for Howl’s Moving Castle, The Wind Rises and even a win for their 2002 film Spirited Away.

So it’s odd to me that many of the Oscar voters were clueless to the films, didn’t watch them or didn’t care. Each film nominated was a masterpiece in its own right, pushing limits in animation and creating brilliant and beautiful stories that are no less than living works of art. From the diversity and presentation of lost in Big Hero 6, to the roaring and emotionally endearing How to Train Your Dragon 2, the superbly crafted The Boxtrolls, the quaint and beautiful Song of the Sea, and the visually engaging, remarkable The Tale of Princess Kaguya.

None of these films were worth anything less, and yet, that’s how they were treated. Each year I read articles about how the voters just didn’t care. Either they thought of the lot as gobbly-gook made for babies or they just didn’t have the time of day.

I think that’s disgusting.

To give all of these artists, storyboarders, painters, concept artists, sculptures, animators, producers, directors, voice actors, musicians and composers a virtual middle finger is just despicable.

If you are an official voter for the Academy Awards it should be at minimum a requirement to have seen every sing film presented. This is supposed to be an incredibly prestigious award ceremony. Yet, the voters sound like a bunch of dads who would rather be playing golf or ignoring their wife and kids.

Here are some of the quotes that Cartoon Brew collected from the voters: [also featured in their article here].

  • “Frankly I didn’t see any of them.” (I abstain)
  • “I never got the chance to watch those screeners. There were so many films to watch and I just had to pick and choose.” (I abstain)

and here we have my favorite, the most ignorant of them all:

  • “…these two obscure freakin’ Chinese fuckin’ things that nobody ever freakin’ saw [an apparent reference to the Japanese film The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, as well as the Irish film Song of the Sea]? That is my biggest bitch. Most people didn’t even know what they were! How does that happen? That, to me, is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen.” (Big Hero 6)

But not all of the voters were so horrible. Some actually took the time to watch the films and found them enjoyable.

When it came to the Animated Shorts Category very few of the voters even had the time of day to spend on them. Whether or not Disney’s short film Feast [you can watch a clip here] won may have simply been because it ran before Big Hero 6 in theaters and often those are the only ones anyone from the lot even see…because they’re essentially forced to.

Feast ©2014 Walt Disney Feature Animation

Now, I loved Feast and Big Hero 6 but I just think all of the films should be taken care of accordingly. They should be carefully viewed and recorded. As much as some people don’t believe, the Academy Awards isn’t just a casual joke. To film makers it matters a lot. Having that label can do a lot for that film, and bring in a lot more recognition and success. And when it comes to these smaller, independent companies that can mean the world.

Needless to say…I’m not all that happy with how these films were treated. Though the winners Big Hero 6 and Feast were both great films I wish the others were given the time of day. Though when it comes to saying how I feel about the Academy voters, I’m not too happy and I have a few nasty words I’d like to toss their way, but instead…I abstain.

How did you feel about the award show? Did any of your nominations win? Or do you think it’s a load of croc and a waste of time?

Until next time!

damian alexander

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