academymembers_2016 academymembers_2016

Academy Members Don’t Care About Animation: 2017 Edition

Disney’s Zootopia won the Academy Award for best animated feature this year, marking the ninth time in ten years that the Walt Disney Company has won the award.

Is there some kind of conspiracy that keeps allowing Disney to win the award? Probably not, at least not in our opinion.

The more likely culprit is good old-fashioned ignorance. Giving the award to the company with the biggest footprint in the industry is an unsurprising choice for voters who have no passion for animated filmmaking and no knowledge of the craft.

The Academy, at last count, had 6,687 members. There’s ballpark 500-600 people who are members of the Academy’s short films and feature animation branch. The remaining 6,000-plus members who decide the winner of the feature animation Oscar have little connection to the animation field. It has proven itself to be a recipe for disaster.

For the last few years, The Hollywood Reporter has interviewed members of the Academy anonymously to find out how they voted in various categories. Each year (see 2014 or 2015), the “Brutally Honest Oscar Voter Ballot” participants have shown a dismissive attitude toward animation, but more than mere attitude, they’ve also shown themselves uniquely unqualified to judge animated filmmaking, often expressing contempt for the art form and viewing it as a lesser craft than what they produce in live action.

Such views echo the stories that I have personally heard from reliable sources about how some Academy members outsource the animated feature voting process to their children, allowing their kids to watch the nominated films and report back with their favorites. The Reporter interviews make clear that such situations may be more widespread than anyone could have imagined.

The non-animation Academy members in these interviews are often openly hostile to the art form, and even when they try to discuss the films, they talk about them in terms of personal preference, not through discussing the creative and artistic merits of the productions.

If the feature animation Oscar hasn’t yet lost its prestige in the public’s eye, I can attest that many in the international animation community no longer view the Academy Award as a legitimate indicator of excellence in animated filmmaking. Rewarding the same corporation with an award for nearly an entire decade has had a clear and pronounced effect on how the award is perceived by the animation world outside of Los Angeles.

In fact, across the Atlantic, major animation producers have banded together and are preparing to launch a Pan-European alternative, the European Animation Emile Awards.

While some European countries already have film awards, like the U.K.’s BAFTAs, France’s César Awards, and Spain’s Goyas, the Emile Awards have the potential to build real prominence because they allow submissions from all of those countries, plus the rest of Europe. Further, the voting is guaranteed to be done by people who actually have an appreciation and understanding about the films that they’re judging.

The Academy may be a group of industry professionals, but they have proven themselves to be anything but professional when it comes to judging animation. Their flippant attitude and outright disdain for the art form has led to a crisis of confidence in the organization’s abilities to judge animation, and there is no indication that the Academy plans to implement new procedures that addresses their general membership’s disinterest in animation craft.

Below are the opinions of six more Academy members from this year’s “Brutally Honest” ballots feature of The Hollywood Reporter:

Anonymous member of the director’s branch:

On animated features:

I don’t watch the animated movies.

Voted: [Abstain]

On animated shorts:

I saw them all, but they all blurred together in my memory, so I abstained.

Voted: [Abstain]

Anonymous member of the actors branch:

On animated features:

Sometimes I watch these, but I didn’t this season. But I hear — is this the one with [The] Jungle Book? [The voter is informed that The Jungle Book was eligible and is nominated in the best visual effects category.] Well that, I understand, is really, really good.

Voted: [Abstain]

On animated shorts:

I just don’t have the time to see them. I’d rather see as many of the feature films as I can.

Voted: [Abstain]

Anonymous member of the executives branch:

On animated features:

I saw Kubo [and the Two Strings] and don’t really remember it. I loved the music in Moana. I think The Red Turtle is very strong. I loved everything about My Life As a Zucchini — I was very taken with the idea of making a movie about a zucchini. But I voted for Zootopia because it has something important to say about the world. Basically, we all have to be nicer to each other.

Voted: Zootopia

On animated shorts:

The only one that really stood out in my memory from when I watched them until when I voted was Piper, which I loved. It was sweet, that little tiny bird. Family stories always get me.

Voted: Piper

Anonymous member of the producers branch:

On animated features:

I’m not big on animation or animators. I know a girl who only has sex with animators — she works over at Disney. In any event, my least favorite was Moana — just typical Disney fare. I really, really liked Kubo and the Two Strings, My Life As a Zucchini, and Zootopia. But I loved The Red Turtle — it was so simple and it spoke about life and it looked like a watercolor painting to me. Plus I have a fetish for turtles — I’ve just written a project about a turtle.

Voted: The Red Turtle

On visual effects:

The first one I knocked out was Rogue One. Then Deepwater Horizon — run of the mill, sorry. The director [Peter Berg] is a really talented guy, but he should be careful or he’s gonna end up being the Oliver Stone of less important films. Kubo [and the Two Strings] was brilliant animation, but I just didn’t buy into it. Doctor Strange was my first runner-up. But because I was a softie this year, I loved The Jungle Book, which I also nominated for best picture.

Voted: The Jungle Book

On animated shorts:

I really didn’t like Borrowed Time — there was no point and the whole Western theme didn’t work for me, period. I did not like Blind Vaysha — I couldn’t figure it out. Pearl was really sweet and I liked it — that message about what we pass on to our children. And then it was between Pear Cider [and Cigarettes] and Piper. I have a bunch of years sober from my drug of choice, so watching Pear Cider hit a little bit close to home for me. Plus, it was much too long, and also, while I like the graphic novel approach, the movie was so infrequently animated that it’s hard to vote for it.

But, even setting all that aside — oh, man, I’m embarrassed about this one — I really liked that silly little Piper. I had to ignore that it was Pixar because that’s like the anti-Viagra: you see Pixar’s name and you know it’s all gonna be the same — probably great, but just the same. But that little bird? I could have spent an hour-and-a-half watching that f—ing bird. I really loved his energy. I guess I’m just mushier than normal this year.

Voted: Piper

Anonymous member of the public relations branch:

On animated features:

I didn’t see any of them. I’m not that interested in animated films, to be honest with you.

Voted: [Abstain]

On visual effects:

I can barely remember The Jungle Book, it came out a long time ago. Doctor Strange was fine. The effects in Deepwater Horizon were really amazing — the highlight of the film, for me. But I didn’t vote because I didn’t see all of the films — I didn’t see Kubo and the Two Strings, and I tried but didn’t get to see Rogue One in theaters and really didn’t want to watch it on DVD.

Voted: [Abstain]

On animated shorts:

This was a year when my interest in the Oscars was not as strong as it has been in the past because of the political situation at the moment — like so many others, I’ve felt hugely discouraged about much more important things, and frankly I just didn’t want to spend my time doing this.

Voted: [Abstain]

Anonymous member of the actor’s branch:

On animated features:

I watched them all and liked several of them, but I loved The Red Turtle, which was the most profound of the group.

Voted: The Red Turtle

On visual effects:

I like the effects in Rogue One, but I voted for The Jungle Book because I thought that one, with the animals and everything, was absolutely stunning.

Voted: The Jungle Book

On animated shorts:

The two that I liked the best were Piper, which is so adorable, and the one with the cigarettes where that crazy guy goes to China [Pear Cider and Cigarettes], which I voted for because it is very intriguing and different.

Voted: Pear Cider and Cigarettes

  • Lucky Jim

    “But that little bird? I could have spent an hour-and-a-half watching that f—ing bird. I really loved his energy.”

    Hell, same.

  • “I watched them all and liked several of them, but I loved The Red Turtle, which was the most profound of the group.

    Voted: The Red Turtle”

    What wrong with that comment?

    • There’s nothing wrong with that comment, this article includes every comment from the interviews.

    • Inkan1969

      OTOH, some people belittle “Zootopia” fans that like the film because they’re into furry fandom. Now we have an anon who voted for “The Red Turtle” because anon had a turtle fetish.

      SPOILER: And if you see that movie you could argue that it really panders to a turtle “fetish”…

  • That turtle fetish comment still blows my god damn mind.

    • Marc Hendry

      making sense of it was too much of a strain for me

  • bends

    When it opens, the Academy museum could play a very important role in building more respect for animation among its members.

  • Darissa Townes

    Hmm…aside from a handful of them saying that they don’t care about animation, a good chunk of these guys had somewhat understandable reasons for not watching; no time and because of that, they didn’t vote. And the ones in this section that DID vote voted for movies besides Zootopia (although many liked Piper). I know that these guys are just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the Academy, but I think after three years of seeing members complain about not having enough time or stamina to watch animated films, the Academy needs to create some kind of viewing system so only the ones who work in animation watch and vote on animation. I would think that after replaying the 3rd movie nomainated for best editing for the 4th time, anybody would feel fatigued. How can we expect them to vote fairly for any film with this kind of system?

  • RCooke

    They really ought to put some effort behind losing the “best animated feature” award–a ghetto situation at best–and vigorously promoting it as an option for BEST PICTURE–animated or not. The short film branch generally gets it right, with both animation, docs, and live action–even if the Academy as a whole is lazy about these. The short films are the future film makers the Academy whole heartedly supports. For a few years they ought to reserve one spot in the Best Picture nominations for an animated feature that the branch thinks rises to the level of consideration, and have it compete head to head with the live action films. Heightened awareness by the Academy might help. More “ghettoization” of animation will not.

    • Expecting an animated film to even get nominated for Best Picture is a fool’s quest. There are untold numbers of live action films almost specifically made to get nominated for that award. Look at the theater schedules in late December.

    • ea

      At first, only the big studios competed and won for Best Animated Short (Disney, MGM, WB, etc). Now that category consists mostly of indie and foreign works.

  • Many of these comments seem perfectly reasonable.

  • ReptilePatrol

    I think it’s important to make a distinction between the Oscar nominations and the Oscar winners. The nominations for Best Animated Feature are chosen by committee, and this smaller group has made fantastic choices, in my opinion – “Zucchini,” “The Red Turtle.” “Boy & the World,” “Anomalisa,” “Song of the Sea,” “The Illusionist,” “Persepolis,” just to name a few. You don’t get this kind of diversity with the Globes or BAFTAs. The problem comes from the final voting phase, where the entire membership is allowed to vote, and then defaults to the most mainstream choice.

    Additionally, I think it’s also worth looking into how much other awards bodies exhibit similar preferences. For example, the Annies have awarded a computer animated film for the past eleven years in a row, with most of them made by Disney or Pixar (though the Annies do feature relatively more from DreamWorks). The BAFTAs, until “Kubo”‘s win this year, had awarded computer animated films exclusively for a decade, 7/10 of which were made by Disney or Pixar. Every single Golden Globe winner for animated feature has been computer animated, with 9/11 produced by Disney or Pixar. While it’s definitely right to criticize the Academy where it falls short, this problem is not limited to the Academy, and is likely more serious and widespread than just the Academy membership.

    • ea

      It still doesn’t explain how things like Jimmy Neutron and Shark Tale got nominated, but films like Waking Life and Paprika were snubbed.

      • ReptilePatrol

        Well, like every Oscar category, the occasional snub is inevitable. “Paprika,” “Your Name” and “Bashir” were probably close runner-ups, especially as evidenced by the latter’s foreign film nomination. Generally though, the committee tries hard to get different types of films. It’s the only category outside of foreign film to consistently feature foreign nominees; they’ve nominated every single Laika, Aardman, and Sylvain Chomet film; they’ve given 6 noms to Ghibli; and 9 for GKIDS. This is a much more powerful statement than the small handful of questionable choices that may happen occasionally.

        Also, GKIDS’ 9 noms & 0 wins highlights a significant difference between those who choose the nominees, and those who choose the winners. And this isn’t limited to just animation either: cinematographer Roger Deakins’ 13 noms & 0 wins, composer Thomas Newman’s 14 noms & 0 wins, and sound mixer Greg P. Russell’s 16 noms & 0 wins all illustrate the differing opinions between those familiar with the craft at hand, and the mainstream Academy. GKIDS losing on each of its 9 nominations may seem egregious to us, but such trends aren’t unusual when you look at similar situations with Deakins, Newman and Russell.

    • ea

      Or how Waltz with Bashir didn’t get into the BAF category but Bolt did.

      • Inkan1969

        Well, WwB used rotoscoping, I believe.

        • GW

          It didn’t. I got told otherwise on my blog for making the same claim.

      • JodyMorgan

        Waltz with Bashir was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, though.

  • Kendall

    Amid, you’ve touched on a great topic. We presume these elite 6,687 voting Academy members have a passion for the arts, but obviously it’s not all members and not all arts. It’s sad to think that an Oscar can be so flippantly decided, which will propel one film onto a larger commercial destiny. Unfortunately there’s still bias in the other animation awards too – the TV Academy Animation Peer judging (Emmy’s) could see some reform from the same retiree / old school club. Also the Annie Awards are basically a pay-to-play vote: the bigs like Disney and Dreamworks “sponsor” their employees’ ASIFA membership so they can vote for their own studio’s film(s). How does an indie/boutique studio film compete fairly against a corporation of votes?

  • JodyMorgan

    It’s not just animation. The member of the executive branch, the one quoted above as voting for Zootopia, also said this regarding the Best Picture nominees: “I also didn’t see Hidden Figures, on the advice of someone in my family who told me it did not seem strong enough to be an Oscar contender.” Yes, the executive took the advice of a relative over the panel of movie experts who came up with the list of nominees. And another of the interviewees mentions skipping two of the Best Picture nominees.

    Remind me again why the Oscars have any prestige associated with them?

    • ea

      After the whole envelope fiasco I hope things really begin to change with the academy.

    • Inkan1969

      But it sounded like he did not skip any of the animated features, though.

  • Michael O’Callaghan

    In fairness most of the ones that didn’t care voted abstain, nullifying their non-opinion

  • JoeS

    Simple proposal. Don’t nominate and Disney or top box office animated feature next year and force the Academy members to watch a group of nominees with strong artistry like RED TURTLE and ZUCCHINI.

    • ea

      The academy goes all mainstream when it comes to animated films. This is the same group that gave Best Picture to Spotlight over Mad Max and to The Hurt Locker over Avatar. It’s so fucking inconsistent.

      • Exilov

        Its because they don’t see animation as a legitimate art form, and therefore go mainstream since there isn’t as much effort needed.

        Why else do you think Marvel Studios (thankfully) has yet to win an Oscar for any of their live-action films, yet won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature for BH6? Because to voters animation isn’t to be taken as ‘seriously’ as the other categories.

        • Corwin Haught

          BH6 wasn’t a Marvel Studios film. It was a Disney film that just happened to be based on a Marvel comic.

          • Exilov

            Marvel is owned by Disney though…

            So it still is technically one.

  • edge13

    another article try to denounce Zootopia winning i see.
    look,its not just The Academy members that pick Zootopia for the best Animated feature,try the Globes,Annie,AFI,Critics Choice,etc

  • Anonymous

    Most of those were ok… i mean, they admit they didn’t watch enough and they abstained. And some of their reasonings were decent.

  • Dave 52

    Does anyone find it ironic that in 2014 they snubbed The LEGO Movie at the oscars only to play an instrumental version of “Everything Is Awesome” three years later? Was that like their way for apologizing for the snub?

    • D.A.V.E.

      I wonder if The Lego Batman Movie will be nominated next year.

    • Inkan1969

      I don’t think it was snubbed, but that Warner did not even submit the movie for consideration.

  • AP

    “If the feature animation Oscar hasn’t yet lost its prestige in the public’s eye, I can attest that many in the international animation community no longer view the Academy Award as a legitimate indicator of excellence in animated filmmaking.”

    I have to ask: Did they ever?

  • Horganovski

    I wanted to love Kubo, I really did. But the story was weak, it felt like they came up with the moral point they wanted to make first and then worked backwards to try to add a story to make the point. Beautiful animation is wasted if the rest of the elements don’t add up.
    Also thought that Moana was weak and generic with forgettable characters and story. Zootopia was the best from Disney since Tangled IMO (way better than BH6 which felt like a long advert for toys).
    So personally I feel the best movie won in this case. Were all the judges picking for the ‘right’ reasons.. clearly not but is that ever the case? I think people add way too much weight to awards in the first place. The Oscars is really just a massive industry back-slapping event, it’s got little to do with art really.

    • jawsnnn

      I kinda agree with you. Kubo was gorgeous but it wasn’t as good as it thought itself to be. The end esp. was imperfect.

    • Ingrid Vlinder Pohlenz

      Talk about weak!! Zootopia is quite weak! A messy animation, a messy reference to social problems, it’s messy to the core! Watch Bambi, now that’s some real 3-D, Disney is so concerned of making textures, they seem to forget about the rest, in the end the story abruptly solves itself, a movie appealing in it’s cuteness only, now that’s great, it’s hardly a good piece of work; now Kubo has a beautiful story, it’s a very simple one too, which is not bad nor weak, the high classes that are blind to the lower ones? The love story? The photography? I admire Laika for setting the bar higher in each project they make, they are true pioneers in animation, Boxtrolls was incredible. And the fact that Disney has two movies in the cathegory, they should stick to one, lots of other movies should get a chance. I also think, if this academy fellas are unable to read an animated film, they probably can’t read a more complicated film either.

  • Marie

    I completely agree with Amid’s position on this topic and I’d like to add something additional. The American/Hollywood animation industry has contributed to its own ghettoization by making feature films that are overwhelmingly for children. As a result, animation has become inexorably linked to children’s entertainment and is therefore dismissed. The animated shorts often deal with adult topics (which is one reason why I loved Pear Cider and Cigarettes and found it deeply affecting) but the features almost never do. Until American feature animation regularly makes movies about adult humans—not animals or human substitutes—in adult situations, neither the art form nor the films will be taken seriously. Animation from Japan, Europe and South America regularly deals with adults/adult situations and is successful. American animation needs to follow their examples.

    • ea

      They did that with Anomalisa and look at the response it got: “Why make it animated when it could’ve just been live-action?” (using that logic, why make ANYTHING animated?)

  • Cordyceps

    I thought this was pretty fair overall. It’s impossible for everyone in the Academy to watch every movie, and it’s understandable that some just don’t care for animation. So I appreciate that at least so many of the ones interviewed were willing to abstain rather than just vote for the one they heard of.

  • Elsi Pote

    The number of voting members that are somehow disengaged with the art and its many branches is nothing new.

    As people grow old in their careers, they tend to get more jaded due to factors that go from personal issues to unfulfilled career dreams, and there is nothing that can be done about it. Every industry suffers of this disease.

    Now on the “Disney is the winner by default” mentality, the only thing that would level the field is education.

    Read books like Disney Demmystified, Disney War or the Disney Version to break from the spell they have casted over everything and everybody, and understand that mass marketing and false word of mouth are no substitute to judge how a story was developed and executed as an animated feature.

    The goal is to raise the bar of the craft, not to fix the already broken Oscars.

  • Lonely Animator

    Who´s this girl who only sleeps with animators?!

  • Bob

    Let’s be honest though… there is a lot of mediocre story telling in animation and a handful of good “films.” Even many of the artists who work on animations get sick of the predictable tropes, or childish humor that a good number tend to be built around. Outside of the animation fan bubble there are many people who don’t enjoy animation with the same zealous lust… or a high percentage of people who experience animation in a very casual way. i feel like if animation fans expanded their story telling knowledge into other areas of film and books then perhaps they’d see that much of animation is quite basic and at times, a bore with fun visuals. i would compare it to high schools attempt at teaching kids to write essays the correct way by teaching a 5×5 where there are all these “rules” to safely fence in the contents of the writing, but is truly a limited way of thinking.

  • Lucky Jim

    Are we ever going to get anymore Ed Hooks acting articles? Zootopia can’t be the only nominated film he was passionate enough to write about.

  • Rafael

    I feel like it’s more of a thing that you don’t like or want Disney to win (we can tell by the way you insist on using the dancing tigers picture) than what it really is. Like someone said, many of the comments are reasonable, plus, you make it sound like Zootopia is a disaster, which isn’t. The Oscars are an american award for the american audience – remember, the first animation to win was Shrek – so it’s about time to know better than to expect any “art” film to be the winner.
    *Edit: just read this “But as a heterosexual male, it’s hard not to vote for Harley Quinn [the character played by Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad] — plus, the makeup was really, really good.” and it makes very clear how seriously this award should be taken.

    • Luke

      Disney or Pixar winning the category practically every year does more to devalue their achievements than Amid pointing out the problem.

  • ea

    If Moonlight was an animated film it would have been screwed harder than La La Land got.

  • ea

    Check their comments on the animated films. This article in a nutshell:

  • Inkan1969

    Granted anon #4, the producer’s branch anon, has a problem with gossip…But this bunch actually is not so bad. The people that didn’t see any cartoons or didn’t care all abstained. And every anon here that did vote apparently saw all five features or all five shorts. We may disagree with their reasons, but unlike other years it looks like the voters tried.

  • Breyzh

    “I loved everything about My Life As a Zucchini — I was very taken with the idea of making a movie about a zucchini.”
    Oh come on, who is this guy kidding? There’s no actual zucchini in that movie, it’s just the kid’s nickname.
    if you don’t care or don’t have the time or whatever bs excuse fine, at least
    admit it, don’t pretend you’ve watched movies you obviously haven’t even
    read the synopsis of.

    what a concept!
    Someone, PLEASE make this event a reality – and TRUTH!

  • SnicksterFace

    Using Zootopia’s win as the topline basis of your argument is unfortunate. This year, all options were top notch and a Zootopia win shouldn’t disqualify it as a worthy option. If Kubo won, it wouldn’t change content of the rest of your article.

    Art is a subjective medium to begin with. Rewarding films and actors for the “Best” pretty much nullifies the whole process of art making.

    Your proceeding references to member responses is important, though. Animation is an overlooked medium unfortunately. I’m even split on there being an animation category. On the one hand, animation is just a medium, and the movies should be viewed for their story and execution. On the other hand, because animation is always overlooked, it’s nice to see there is a specific category because otherwise we’d never see some quality animated films get the recognition they deserve.

    Even as an animation artist, I have trouble convincing my own family and friends without kids to watch animated movies. The fact is, the medium has an unfortunate reputation of being child’s play, and not worth the time for many adults.

  • Strong Enough

    there shouldnt even be a best animated category in the first place. that alone shows you they dont have respect for the artform to treat it at the same level as live action

    • Chinoiserie

      But it gets some Oscar attention to these films they would not otherwise have at all. Kind of like best foreign language film.

      • Strong Enough

        nah. let it compete on its own merits instead of a handicap. imo.

  • Klyph14

    We all know the short that personally thanked the writer of this article in the credits should have won.

  • Renard N. Bansale

    Ms. Sasha Stone over at her awards season commentary website AwardsDaily wrote the following in her post-Oscars article from March 1st “What We Can Learn About the Preferential Vote and Why Splits Are More Likely”:
    “Actors rule the Academy. They are the reason why no animated films can get in for Best Picture. They are the reason effects-driven films aren’t as beloved. Their careers are based on their faces. Their bodies are their instruments. They want to matter so they will always pick films that are driven by actors. Always.”

  • jawsnnn

    Why don’t the non Disney studios simply boycott the Oscars? At this point no one can even accuse them of being ridiculous.
    Note: This is not to say that all Disney winners have been bad movies. But the winning movies have almost always never been the best movie.

  • Johnny Marques

    The Academy at large seems to be, paradoxically, very ignorant about the things they’re supposed to be judging. Too many of the technical categories are voted on based on the movie, not the specific craft nominated. Editing, sound mixing, you name it. But the Disney cycle is just a matter of money and power of marketing. Look at 2015, how could the academy overwhelmingly prefer Big Hero 6 to the Tale of Princess Kaguya, Boxtrolls, Dragon 2 and the brilliant Song of the Sea? It’s not that Disney’s movies are bad, they’re not, but it’s a disservice to the art form to only reward a very narrow style: for children, animated in CGI. But the nominating panel at the Academy deserves some credit, they’ve made very solid choices and ultimately the exposure smaller filmes get by being nominated is helpful. Sadly, I’m not sure there’s even a way to turn this trend around.

    • JodyMorgan

      Unless you have access to some inside information, we don’t know if the Academy “overwhelmingly” preferred Big Hero 6 to HtTYD2; it could’ve won by one vote, or by 2000. And realistically, those were the only two nominees with a chance to win that year; The LEGO Movie wasn’t nominated, The Boxtrolls was kinda meh, and neither The Tale of Princess Kaguya nor Song of the Sea could get enough pre-Oscar “buzz” going to force voters to sit up and take notice.

    • Ed-S

      How can one expect a generalist movie awards show like the Academy Awards to do better in their picks when a specialist award show like the Annies is no better. Look at the 2015 Annie Awards when they picked the generic HTTYD2 BGM over the vastly better Irish folk influenced “Song of The Sea” BGM, andt hat is only one example

  • Rob T.

    I hear what your saying – those “brutally honest” Academy comments are damning, there’s no excuse for them – and agree that it’s frustrating that one corporate entity has so thoroughly dominated this award for its entire history. On the other hand, I don’t think ignorance is the only factor in play here either. Note that of the eight Pixar films to win the feature animation Oscar, seven (all but Brave) were also nominated for screenplay Oscars (Toy Story 3 for adapted, the rest for original). I think this is a pretty clear indication that the Academy thinks these Pixar films aren’t just “great animated films,” but among the best films of their respective years without qualification. (It’s also telling that Shrek, the one non-Pixar animated feature to be nominated for a screenplay Oscar, also went on to win the animated feature Oscar.)

    Now one could argue that there’s still some herd mentality at work in the nomination process; among animated feature Oscar nominees of the last ten years, I would argue that such films as Persepolis, Fantastic Mr. Fox, How to Train Your Dragon, The Wind Rises, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya and Anomalisa deserved as much consideration for their screenplays as anything from Disney/Pixar. And I admit that the screenplay nomination thing doesn’t explain the three non-Pixar Disney wins in the current decade.

    I’m OK with the wins for Frozen and Zootopia; the former is a once-a-generation pop culture phenomenon, and the latter enjoyed as much serious discussion of its “significance” as any movie in the last year. But then there’s Big Hero 6, a good film that won over four better films, and the one Disney/Pixar film I’d agree didn’t deserve the Oscar. (I could also cite Pixar’s Brave here, except I’d give its Oscar to Disney’s Wreck-It-Ralph.) The win for Big Hero 6 marks the one time I’d give credence to the theory that the Academy wasn’t really paying attention to what it was voting for,

    Even so, allowing for the Academy’s weakness for “prestige”, its vulnerability to high-pressure corporate promotion and, yes, the ignorance and apathy of some Academy members, I think they’ve done well with the animated feature Oscar, and that Disney/Pixar’s dominance of the award can be chalked up to sustained creative peaks that happen to coincide with the history of the category. This state of affairs can’t last. Pixar has had serious trouble developing original projects not helmed by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton or Pete Docter, all of whom worked on the first Toy Story film and none of whom have any non-sequel projects in the works. As for Disney, 20 years ago there was no reason to believe they would enter a slump that very nearly took them out of the animated feature game altogether, and it could happen again. (Now if a Disney slump coincides with a “Pixar: The Next Generation” comeback that wins them another slew of Oscars, then I’ll suspect the fix is in for them!)

  • Too Many Cooks

    This is the most reasonable one of these I’ve seen yet.

  • Steven Bowser

    At least most of the most ignorant admitted it and abstained. But some of those who voted did seem very… I dunno. Unprofessional? Like they liked a film for very superficial reasons instead of in a more analytical way.

    It makes me question the merits of this whole thing. Do we not have trusted people voting on this stuff? Like, who is allowed to do this? Because I feel like even I could do a more thorough and unbiased job than some of these people. No offence.

  • Bisong Olaoye Taiwo

    “I know a girl who only has sex with animators — she works over at Disney”

    I’m just wondering what this has anything to do with the quality of the nominees :/