Animation’s 2nd-Class Status

Film reporter Patrick Goldstein, in today’s LA Times, writes about movies that are long shots for the Oscar’s Best Picture nomination. One of them is Pixar’s Wall•E:

A wonderful, critically beloved movie, “Wall-E” in any normal world would be a shoo-in nominee for best picture. Its problem? It’s an animated film, the one genre (along with comedy) that gets no respect from the academy — no animated film has won an Oscar for best picture, even though many classics, notably “The Lion King,” “Toy Story 2,” “Spirited Away” and “Ratatouille,” were just as good as the live-action winners in their year of eligibility. Actors, who make up the biggest branch of the academy, almost never vote for animated films, so it’s virtually impossible to put together enough support from other branches of the academy to register a win.

Hence, the best animated film ghetto, which, just like at Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards, allows an animated delight like “Wall-E” to get some recognition without having a legitimate shot at best picture stardom. Some commentators have suggested that if Disney had spent just another $20 million to push “Wall-E,” it could’ve gotten over the top, but Disney is probably right not to throw good money after bad — too many academy members have a built-in bias against animated films, viewing them as just not “important” enough to vote for.

As much as I’d like to see an animated film recognized alongside live action in the Best Picture category, I’m afraid Goldstein speaks the truth. This is the reality: no matter how much money animation makes, or how many hits Pixar and Dreamworks churn out, animation is still a 2nd class citizen in Hollywood.

I don’t like it that way. It’s not how I think — but it’s the way it is. And nothing that happens seems to change that perception. Four of the top 10 movies of 2008 (in U.S. box office gross) were animated features – four – and the other six were blockbusters that had more than their fair share of CGI effects (Iron Man, Dark Knight, etc).

And consider this scenario, which is entirely within the realm of possibility: Waltz with Bashir could be nominated (and win) in three categories (Animated Feature, Foreign Film and Documentary), Wall•E could be nominated (and win) as Best Picture, and leave, perhaps, Kung Fu Panda (my pick) winner as Best Animated Feature. Even if this could happen (and it’s not impossible) animation would still be considered by non-animation folk, as Goldstein says, “not important enough”.

It’s been a hell-of-a-good year for animation but, according to some, we still rank 2nd place.


  • Charles

    Maybe these big budget animated films would get more respect if they weren’t made for kids. Did anyone honestly think wall-e wasnt going to end up safe and happy in the end? Pixar pretty much follows the same fish out of water story structure for every single movie it makes. That kind of film making doesn’t deserve awards in my opinion.

  • http://www.bishopanimation.com Floyd Bishop

    If ever there was a Pixar film deserving of the “Best Picture” nomination, it was “The Incredibles”. In my opinion, “WALL-E” had too many holes and weird, out of place live action segments to make it a serious contender for the spot. With “Kung Fu Panda” in the running, it shouldn’t win “Best Animated Feature”, either.

  • http://www.orphantoons.wordpress.com Kevin Wollenweber

    Oh, this is so true, but there are times when I think that animation, the industry, treates itself like a second-class art form. You’ve said countless times, Jerry, that the art form is a bottomless vault of ideas and visions; yet the studios don’t seem to want to go beyond the accepted worlds that animation has inhabited since any of the golden ages of film you can name! Now, I know why they do it; to put food on their tables! Art is fine, but when you’re working in a world that looks at you one way and one way only and basically states that cartoons have to deal with this specific marketplace or, for certain, they will be ignored, what is a striving animator going to do? The fault is as much the industry’s as it is the pig-headed snobs who dare not admit that they have great respect for the art of animation! Walt Disney painted the blueprint and, still, to this day, the major studios follow that blueprint because that is what grabs the box office. If a real piece of animation artistry was created, invading the worlds often entered by live action films or documentaries, critics would be whining that “it’s too dark”, “it’ll scare the children”, and a thousand other knit-picky criticisms you can name! I sure don’t hold out much hope that things will change, but I also continue to hope that animation artists don’t give up.

  • udx

    It’s sad, really. Even after all these decades, Animation is still being treated like it was unimportant, alongside gaming.

    That being said, Wall-E, Kung Fu Panda, and Horton Hears a who were my favorite films of 2008 alongside The Dark Knight.

  • http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/mjf7583 Michael F.

    I can see Wall-E getting a Best Picture nomination thanks to not only the film being on a series of Top Ten lists from critical groups but also its success with the Los Angeles and Chicago critics groups. The real problem is the timing. You ever notice how a majority of Best Picture nominees come from late in the year?

    I do agree with the sentiment of the writer in that the Academy has pretty much had its funny bone removed years ago. Remember, very few comedies ever get nominated for a Best Picture award. Although Sideways was close a few years ago.

  • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

    Doesn’t the “Best Animated Film” award pretty much kill any chance an animated film has of winning “Best Film”?

  • Severin

    The studios upped voiceover actors salaries big time in recent years and yet it’s the actors who won’t vote for an animated feature as best picture? Comedy rarely gets respect from the Oscars, either. It was very big news when Woody Allen won for “Annie Hall” and it hasn’t really happened since. Hollywood gladly takes the money animation and comedies pile up, but it doesn’t reward those forms equally with drama.

  • http://pupick.blogspot.com/ Rick Roberts

    I am sorry but nothing in the US mainstream animated feature film market is worth mentioning. The japanese and europeans deserve alot more recognition.

  • A Long-time Observer

    With all the Oscar talk since July, I think WALL*E’s recognition will be a step in the right direction. I can only speak for myself, but I also think that Persepolis really dropped the ball for mainstream America to reconsider the “kid stigmatism” of animation*; Waltz with Bashir winning a Critic’s Choice and Golden Globe Award for best foreign film definitely pushes the positive trend.

    I guess the big picture is, since most of the population was born after the fact that cartoons use to be made with adults in mind, that the thought it could be for all ages is hard to conceive. It’s an encompassing problem. While the young people now are learning and appreciating the medium and its history, until they grow up and fill in those areas that will make a huge difference, it will still be a while. Again, speaking from my point of view.

    And another thing–how is it that the academy nominated, voted for, and selected to win RAP in the music category and yet shun animation?? One would figure that they wouldn’t touch THAT medium with a 39 and half foot pole.

    *Speaking on current movements in animation.

  • Charles H.

    It ain’t just the big studios and the major awards either. I’ve been involved with a few (admittedly small-time) student film festivals and animated shorts are invariably and openly snubbed when it comes to awards, even if they’re crowd pleasers. That is, if they’re included in the show at all.
    Having said that, I don’t think we’ll see an animated feature win a best picture award, not with the best animated feature category.

  • matt

    Maybe part of the problem is that even the Academy aren’t sure what the words “Best Animated Feature” actually mean – does it mean the best film that happens to be animated, or does it mean the “Best-Animated” Feature. See what I mean? Yes, semantics, but I have a suspicion that they view it as a more technical/craft award (I’m being facetious there) in the same way as say, costume design, editing or art direction. Does that make sense?

    And on that note, what do WE as industry people think? Should an animated film win the Animated Feature Oscar if it has a weaker story but pushes technique (for more semantics I guess that would be “Achievement in an Animated Feature), or best/most skillful actual animation over story, or should an animated film win if it has superior storytelling and timeless/classic quality even if the actual art/animation is a bit rougher around the edges?

  • ZigZag

    Unfortunately, I can’t say that I agree with much of Mr. Goldstein’s post. Of all the films he could have suggested were ignored as Best Picture contenders, he picks “Lion King” and “Ratatouille”? The former was quite derivative and very bland, and the latter was a wonderful film, but not necessarily up to the standard set by what I see are the great American animated features – namely “The Iron Giant”, “Pinocchio”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Toy Story” and “Finding Nemo”.

    Also, Eliot Cowan nails it with his point that the Best Animated Film award nullifies any chance of an animated pic making it into the Best Picture category simply out of logic.

    I was a little surprised that Mr. Goldstein used box office receipts as a gauge of quality, though (“Shrek 2″ comes to mind). A half-decent family film always does well, simply due to the fact that the whole family goes, thus doubling or quadrupling the amount of people in the theater out of sheer necessity. Also, the penchant that many families have for using animated or other family films as baby-sitters has grown in popularity, with parents often taking their kids to repeat screenings time and again.

    But in the end, I must agree with some of the responses on here that suggest that until the industry strives to tell more challenging stories, it will forever be relegated to second class. I do, however, have great hopes for Pixar’s upcoming “Up”, which has a fantastic set-up and very poignant back story, and is taking the relatively bold step of placing an apparently grumpy senior citizen in its lead role. Carl Fredricksen is no Woody or Buzz.

    In the end, people can look to the anime masters for hope, but I do believe that only when a major studio like Pixar decides to make a truly challenging film of great depth and experimentation will the industry break the mold. Of course, that’ll only happen if the film is embraced critically and at the box office as well. Until then, we’re all destined to make kiddie stories in fairy tale land.

    I must ask, what’s wrong with that? If I had to choose between a child loving my movie, and the Academy loving it, I’d pick the kid every time. But given that we are practicing an art form in which there are no rules, I must agree that we should call on the industry to push itself more. Who knows what we’ll discover.

  • arash mohebbi

    You know what? Who cares about the Academy Awards outside of the gossip columnist and marketing circuits? I mean, I lost all faith in the Academy once I realised (at the age of 8) that all it takes for an Academy Award was for the film to be

    a) A box office smash
    b) Not be scifi, animated or horror or remotely “fringe-y”
    c) American / mainstream studio made

    Ok, so I’ve generalised wildly here, and there are exceptions to the rules galore, but honestly, they hold up so regularly that their stupid TV spectaculars don’t even register on my cultural radar. Frankly, we should just ignore them and their irrelevant spectacle.

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com robcat2075

    Is it possible that if animation were a peer of live-action that that would just make things worse? Wouldn’t the politics of getting them done get worse?

    And imagine animators having their face show up on TMZ or The Smoking Gun every time they had a brush with the law or got caught throwing up outside a bar. That would come with the higher station.

  • Annie-Mae

    Though I agree cold hardly, there are plenty of low budget, non-block buster films that have something to say and meaningful get pushed aside from the public eye and the academy gives them the recognition they deserve. Many movies that do get nominated in the last few years I would’ve never seen or heard of outside a few ads. I took a class about film athetics and it’s a really hard business to even get the best films out there, or even get the general audience to watch. Waltz with Bashir is more live action then animation, and it’s surprising that because it’s animation that’s it’s only fault according to the academy. While I want animated films to receive equal nominations standards, I wouldn’t want the small time films to get ignored and over done by the animated movies top grossing success.

  • Chiskop

    Animation is a second class citizen ’cause they push crappy stories. But now, that is changing. e.g. Persepolis.

    We need to tell better stories. box office receipts don’t mean squat.

    these animated movies don’t move me, really. they’re funny, i like ‘em. But the filmmaking and story telling of animated movies is still very lacking.

    whatever happened to great comedy? Woody allen should write an animated feature then maybe we might have a chance at oscar glory. right now, its just slapstick crap.

  • http://www.jeva.hu jeva

    Special effects are not animation, and Cg animated movies are not just a bunch of special effects. Do not mix those too!

    (For me, the second half of Wall-E ruins the movie. Incredibles is a muck better “movie”.)

  • slowtiger

    Seen from way outside, the Academy Awards are just an opportunity to show a lot of big grinning faces everyone recognizes immediately. This includes actors, some directors, even some producer, some singers, and that’s it. It’s not about good films. It’s not even about films at all. It’s only a show-off of “see how much money we spent and earned”.

    This is more or less true to every award. If there were an animator or animation director who earns $10 mios per film and whose face is shown at least weekly on TV, THEN he would have a chance to win Best Feature.

  • Marc Baker

    I guess that’s why you don’t see much animation on broadcast TV anymore. They see animation as ‘not important’. Especially since it can no longer carry it’s own weight due to overregulation, and lame formulaic concepts. You don’t see as many great cartoons on broadcast TV anymore. It only thrives in cable, the internet, and DVD. The fact that animation still thrives in cinema still doesn’t make a difference.

  • gaastra

    I knew the Academy Awards was worthless when transformers lost to golden compass for best special effects. Giant transformering robots who transform with thousands of moving parts at the same time loses to a cgi bear and monkey!

    I agree that lion king and spirited away should have been in best picture but so should other classic disney films. Totoro and iron giant were good to and so was secret of niym. We need new people doing these awards.

  • http://otherthings.com Cassidy

    Animation isn’t the only ghetto at the Oscars. When was the last time a comedy, a documentary, or a sci-fi movie was even nominated for Best Picture, much less won? Best Picture is exclusively for tear-jerkers, dramas, and other depressing stuff as far as I can tell.

    I agree with Floyd Bishop above: of all the animated films that should have gotten a Best Picture nod, Wall-E is nowhere near the top of my list. Too many surgical story scars and terrible aesthetic choices. I think big budget CG’s best shot at BP would have been Ratatouille– after all, the plot revolves around creative people and their critics! What better to please Academy members than a little Ego stroking?

    But really, all this Oscar stuff is secondary in the context of the big picture, which is that independent, relatively cheap, niche-market, not-for-kids animated films are coming out in droves, to huge critical success. Waltz with Bashir. Sita Sings the Blues. Persepolis. We’re living in excellent times for animation, creatively speaking.

  • http://www.mynameispj.com PJ

    So, just out of curiosity, would it have made WALL-E a better, less safe, and more challenging picture if he had just stayed “dead” at the end of the movie?

    It might have used bright colors and cartoony characters to do it, but if you ask me WALL-E said some pretty dark things about human nature. Maybe I’m alone in this, but I felt pretty uncomfortable with the human blobby characters in their floaty chairs during my first viewing of the film.

    Maybe it was nothing philosophically deep, but hell, to be honest none of the morality conflicts in The Dark Knight were philosophically deep, either.

    It may be easy to see where WALL-E culls its own inspiration from, but I can’t think of a single animated film like it. To me, that’s forging new grounds, especially considering how insanely mainstream PIXAR films are. I think they deserve some credit for it.

    Holding it against PIXAR that their films have ended up “happy” in the end just doesn’t hold water when you look at the stories they’re choosing to tell. I can’t imagine a single one of their films being more appropriate if they had ended tragically or depressing. With WALL-E, considering what WALL-E himself represented in the movie and the point the filmmakers were trying to make, it simply would have contradicted the entire point of the film if it hadn’t ended optimistically.

    Granted I haven’t said anything about the Oscars, but personally I don’t think the Academy’s worth much anyway. I lost all faith in it the year they ignored Mystic River so that they could shower Return of the King with awards just to make up for the fact that they’d ignored the LOTR trilogy for years.

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    As I read the piece I found myself flashing back to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and its depiction of toons as a society apart, with Toontown as a frenetic, candy-colored ghetto.

  • http://thingsicomeupwith.blogspot.com/ F-Force

    Wall-E’s real problem in getting a nomination: It was a big boxoffice hit. If you look at recent nominees, the Academy rarely nominates the blockbusters. Wall-E’s other big problem is another best picture nomination contender: The Dark Knight.

    It is possible they will both get Oscar nominations, as the Academy always throw out a suprise, but I really think they’re going against each other. The Academy would much rather help the box office of a Frost/Nixon or Slumdog Millionaire (neither of which has made over 30 mil) than help a huge summer blockbuster like Wall-E (which made over 200 mil). That’s really how they’re gonna look at it. Sure they have helped blockbusters out, but not that many.

    Also I want to add that if your gonna do an Oscar campaign for any film, doing it in the summer (like Disney did for Wall-E) was a stupid idea. Every other studio does their heavy campaigning in November and December. They also should consider maybe doing a rough-cut screening, like they did with Beauty and The Beast. That would seriously help. Since no animated film has tried that since and look at the results.

  • http://kohrtoons.com Rob Kohr

    Beauty and the Beast was nominated for Best Picture.

  • Steve

    If Beauty & the Beast did not win Best
    Picture, none of these will.
    The Japanese have interesting animated
    features. Films like Paprika.

  • SchmuleyG

    I have one question. If Wall-E were live-action (even with a ton of CG effects) would we even be discussing that it should be nominated for Best Picture? I shudder to think what type of film it would’ve been in live-action.
    Didn’t it make all these top 10 lists because the critics gave it a lot of leeway because it was animated?
    Yeah, there is a bias by the academy – since the largest voting group is actors and they don’t benefit from a film medium that barely uses actors (especially Wall-E), but there’s a bigger bias against children’s films.

  • http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=052C631F61EE2838 Iain

    Yeah, it’s a shame that many people think animation is just a part of the box office game. It really is an art form disguised as a studio’s financial interest.

    “WALL-E” is one of my favorites of 2008 alongside “The Wrestler” and “The Dark Knight”, and I actually think “WALL-E” has a small chance for being nominated for Best Picture, let’s think about this, it has won a few “Best Picture” earnings from awards around the North Americas and is, as of now, the highest rated film of ’08, and I think the “Best Pic” nod will bring a much higher public spotlight to Pixar, not to mention, it’ll finally give the studio the recognition it deserves after making over 20 years of spectacular features and shorts. Oh and another thing, there are some minor live-action elements in “WALL-E”, so it might technically pass onto the Best Picture list.

    Oh and before I forget, “Slumdog” is overrated! (Just my own opinion)

  • http://pupick.blogspot.com/ Rick Roberts

    When was the last time a comedy, a documentary, or a sci-fi movie was even nominated for Best Picture, much less won? Best Picture is exclusively for tear-jerkers, dramas, and other depressing stuff as far as I can tell.”

    Yep. The academy has very narrow standards and they have for years. Some of the greatest films ever made never one Oscars. For example, all of Martin Scorsese’s best films. THE DEPARTED was not even close to being his best work.

  • Keith Bryant

    Personally, I don’t give a rat’s patootie about the Oscars. For several years now, too many of the movies that are nominated are elitist fare that only seem to play for the Manhattan/Beverly Hills crowd. The “Academy” has gotten so far out of touch with most of America, that I would rather spend my three-plus hours of prime time elsewhere.

  • Rob T.

    Given that it’s been a weak year for films in general, and that WALL-E has attracted a fair amount of serious attention from film buffs who aren’t necessarily animation fans as such, I think WALL-E stands a fairly decent chance of snagging a “best picture” Oscar nomination and possibly even an Oscar win.

    Granted, no cartoon has been nominated for “best picture” since the animated feature award was instituted seven years ago, but then only one cartoon (Beauty and the Beast) was ever nominated in the decades before that! Since foreign films such as Life Is Beautiful and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon are sometimes nominated in spite of the existence of a “best foreign film” Oscar, why couldn’t it happen with a cartoon?

    As for whether WALL-E could actually win the “best picture” Oscar, arguments that it can’t win because it’s a cartoon carry little weight for me, especially since several precedent-shattering “best picture” wins in recent years (e.g. Chicago–first musical to win since Oliver!; The Return of the King–first genre fantasy to win; The Departed–first Scorsese film to win, adapted from a Hong Kong crime drama) suggest the field may be more open than one would think.

    Even if WALL-E doesn’t get a “best picture” nomination, I’m betting it’ll still be nominated in the original screenplay category. Since several of my favorite films of the last decade–Almost Famous, Talk to Her and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind–won “best original screenplay” Oscars without being nominated for “best picture”, I would be perfectly happy to see WALL-E join their company.

  • http://inkwellbookstore.blogspot.com/ J.M.

    I 2nd what Steve said:
    “If Beauty & the Beast did not win Best
    Picture, none of these will.”

  • Stefano

    But Patrick Goldstein totally forgot, that ONE (and it’s a Disney one) animated movie was at least nominated for “Best Picture” and it was “The beauty and the Beast”…

  • http://www.tomsito.com Tom Sito

    To answer the previous post- in 1991 Beauty & the Beast was nominated for best picture. Many said it should have won. The film that did win was Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs. Traditional wisdom of the time was that horror films never win Best Picture. It usually goes to the “feel-good” flick. But fully half the voting membership of the Academy are actors, and they couldn’t get their heads around the idea of voting a cartoon for Best Picture.

  • Brad Constantine

    I think the Academy adding the “best animated feature” was supposed to help distinguish the best within that particular category. I think they should have taken it one or two steps further with perhaps a “best animator” or “art direction” award to round out the achievments in the animated field even further. As for film animation getting a second best status, I’m in video games…we aren’t even considered an art form yet…so take your best animated feature oscar, even when your film has live action in it (wall e/happy feet) and stop bitching..

  • http://cartoonresearch.com/gerstein David Gerstein

    Yes, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST was a Best Picture nominee.

    The only Best Picture nominee ever to be given two direct-to-DVD sequels by its corporate owner—both aimed exclusively at children, written to incorporate advice from preschool teachers, and reamed by even non-cartoon-fan reviewers for being unnecessarily patronizing.

    belle

    That was Disney a decade ago, and they’ve improved mightily; I’m not here to critique them now. But the example still stands as testament to what’s wrong with the greater animation industry today. Screw the fake “writers vs. artists” conflict: the problem begins and ends with people in power who frankly believe the medium is effectively for idiots—and who would rather lose money than undergo the indignity of being proven wrong.

  • Animation Pimp

    you can easily reverse that and say that some of these films ONLY get attention because they’re animated. Otherwise, we wouldnt even hear about them –and that wouldn’t be a bad thing.

  • http://thejack-slashhalen.blogspot.com/ Slash Halen

    I think the sad, unfortunate truth, is that there hasn’t been an animated film that is worthy of the Best Picture award this year (or any year). Too many people are praising WALL-E in my opinion, and I personally think that it’s just not good enough (along with most of Pixar’s films. Really people, there not THAT good. Be a little critical.). One day, there will be an animated film that will shock and awe everyone, and we will demand that it gets a nomination. But until then, none of the so far mentioned films are worthy.

  • Pedro Nakama

    Sometimes the nominee for Best Foreign Film is also the nominee for Best Picture. Why can’t that also be true with Best Animated Film?

    Doesn’t it seem like a lot of people who didn’t like WALL-E are all overweight?

  • Oliver

    Nominations are all well and good, but no animated film — or foreign-language film — will ever win ‘Best Picture’.

  • http://www.james-blueskies.blogspot.com James Clarke

    All films are animated aren’t they ? They all finally capture the illusion of movement as if to suggest it is occurring right there in front of us.

    Hmmm…

  • Marc Baker

    ‘Animation isn’t the only ghetto at the Oscars. When was the last time a comedy, a documentary, or a sci-fi movie was even nominated for Best Picture, much less won? Best Picture is exclusively for tear-jerkers, dramas, and other depressing stuff as far as I can tell.’

    That is so true. The only way the academy will ever embrace science fiction is if Leo DeCaprio, and Kate Winslet stared in a remake of ‘Titanic’ where it’s ‘re-imagined’ as a starship, crashes into an astroid, and sinks into a black hole, but you know as well as i do that Leo, and Kate would never do that. They would never degrade themselves to a ‘science fiction’ movie. Heaven forbid.

  • http://www.mynameispj.com PJ

    Why does a film have to “shock” everyone in order to be deserving of a Best Picture nod? I don’t understand what everyone’s obsession with making or seeing films that are “shocking.” Maybe there should be another category for “Most Shocking Film” or something. But in my opinion, a solid, smart, entertaining, damn good movie should be qualified to contest in the Best Picture category, regardless of whether its shocking or tragic or tells its story backwards.

    I understand wanting to push the art form and challenge ourselves, but far too often when people try to be “shocking,” their work ends up being contrived. The Kill Bill movies tried to “shock and awe” me, and all they did was fall flat on their idiotic, self-indulgent faces.

    Personally, I do think Pixar’s films are very good, and I do think WALL-E deserves some kudos. And one of the things I like the most about Pixar’s work is the inherent honesty in their films–they’re not trying to shock, they’re not trying to make us revel in how damn clever they are, they’re not trying to show off. They’re just trying to tell a good story, and they do a great job at it, if you ask me, and thus their movies come out solid and entertaining, without feeling like they’re trying too hard. I think that’s something that should be rewarded.

    As far as telling unique stories with the animation art form goes….THEY MADE A MOVIE ABOUT A RAT THAT COOKS FOOD. IN FRANCE. And it was a freaking blockbuster HIT. How can you not consider it at all gutsy to base an entire movie on a freaking rodent that likes to cook? Hell, I’m hard pressed to think of a set-up that could go more disastrously wrong, and they turned into storytelling gold.

    Everyone’s entitled to their opinions, of course, and I have nothing but respect for them. But I just fail to see why WALL-E’s not good enough to be worthy of Best Picture, and Return of the King is.

  • http://dailygrail.com/blog/8389 red pill junkie

    Well, 15 years ago nobody would have thought a Fantasy film would ever win Best Pic. And then Peter Jackson gave us LOTR and ‘Return of the King’ won. So stay hopeful, Animation guys!

  • Poopmeister

    Funny thing about this year, the best films were all film the academy seems to hate, The Dark Knight was a superhero thriller, Wall-E was animated, and, say, Tropic Thunder or Pineapple Express aren’t even up for consideration.

    It should be noted though, even if the Academy is gun shy about giving animated films the best picture nomination, it hasn’t been as gun shy about giving a good pixar film the nom for best screenplay. Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Rattatoullie were all nominated, and there is no reason why Wall-E shouldn’t get one either. Shrek got nominated also. So the screenwriters voting in that category are great with a well written cartoon.

  • http://www.raymation.net Ray Chase

    I think they need more catagories. One all encompassing Best Picture doesn’t cut it. As others have mentioned, the dramas tend to be nominated and win so call it what it is: Best Drama award. Would it be insane to have a catagory for: Best Musical/Comedy, Best Sci-F-/Fantasy, etc to go along with Best Animated. Debates would continue of course…could say, Kung Fu Panda be nominated for Best Comedy eventhough it’s animated?

    So never a “perfect” system, but adding more catagories to reflect the wider spectrum of filmmaking, would be a step in the right direction to improving the Oscars.

  • Poopmeister

    I also just want to add, give it time! As if most of the pre-Pixar animation fare could ever beat say, ‘Silence of the Lambs’ (the Lion King, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast are mere gems in a puddle of poop), this new plethora of animated films with original stories that are worthy of consideration is new.

  • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

    Of course, the real question is why do you care what wins what, in what category and why?

  • http://yeldarb86.deviantart.com Mr. Semaj

    “To answer the previous post- in 1991 Beauty & the Beast was nominated for best picture. Many said it should have won. The film that did win was Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs. Traditional wisdom of the time was that horror films never win Best Picture. It usually goes to the “feel-good” flick. But fully half the voting membership of the Academy are actors, and they couldn’t get their heads around the idea of voting a cartoon for Best Picture.”

    But then you’re left wondering why they even bothered giving it the Best Picture nom.

    The fact that they regularly go out of their way to ignore the best-best films out there shows that the Academy Awards can’t be taken seriously anymore.

  • http://ryuuseipro.deviantart.com/ John Paul Cassidy

    One other big reason why animated films are barred from winning the Best Picture award is that actors, directors, etc., are afraid that animation could put them out of business. They’re a threat to them, feeling that actors will be replaced by animated characters.

    Remember a news report where Tom Hanks was afraid that FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN’s “Synthespians” would replace real actors? (Ironic, since he voiced Woody in TOY STORY.) Steven Spielberg and George Lucas both found it to be a non-issue.

    The segregation is understandable, but the way they do it (treating all animation as a “kids’ genre”) is distasteful, which is one of many reasons I don’t pay attention to the Academy Awards anymore. It’s an ego-power trip.

  • h park

    Is it really important to win Oscar as best picture? Who cares? Recognition is good thing for achievements and prestige. However if judges are biased, then why waste time and money to convince these people?
    You know, I felt that whole award show nonsense is just a business tactic to gain attention of TV viewing consumers. The way I l look at whole Oscar/Golden Globe glitz and glamour, Hollywood is spending to money to “bribe” judges or committees by throwing lavish parties and giving gifts.
    I just don’t see prestige in any award shows when there is show business politics is influencing the outcome.

  • matt

    Where is Brad Bird? Goldstein thoughtlessly described animation as a genre – and we know that’s like a red rag to Bird’s bull! Getcha sharpshooting equipment out Brad!

    And why should we care about the Academy? Because it’s made up of the film industry. Our industry. How can you say animation SHOULD be on a par with live-action and then marginalise yourself further still by saying you want nothing to do with them? Strange logic. It’s like saying you’re not playing and taking your “bouncing ball” and going home. Fine, but don’t whinge that they don’t appreciate you! I’m not saying that Oscars aren’t a joke, but c’mon…

    The other interesting thing is that none of you even bothered to consider my semantics discussion about what the wording of the category even means… maybe I’m jut not articulate enough. Jerry? Amid?

    And P.S. Waltz IS being included in the best Foreign Film category. So far. Along with the live-action films.

  • gaastra

    “Beauty and the Beast was nominated for Best Picture.”

    They also complained that “a cartoon” was nomanated and billy crystal made fun of it in his opening joke. “If it wins were all out of jobs.”

  • Chris J

    I harp on this almost every time the “state of animation” question comes up – but that’s because I think it’s worth mentioning.

    With software getting cheaper and cheaper yet more and more feature-rich, in addition to wide-open distribution channels such as YouTube and Google Video, I think it’s only a matter of time before some really great feature-length animation from independents starts showing up.

    These will be movies that are NEVER in theatres, are made over the course of YEARS by small teams of dedicated people working on their own time, and end up making their owner/creators Millions in DVD/Blu-Ray sales.

    Forget the Academy, animators. YOU DON’T NEED THEIR BULLSHIT RECOGNITION. Let’s get working. Save some $$ and buy a copy of Flash or ToonBoom or whatever can get it done. Work on your own – recruit some friends and offer profit sharing. You’ve got that seed of an idea – that project you’ve been dreaming of – I know you do. Hell, I do. I conservatively estimate it will take 10 years to finish it all on my own. It will be the movie I want it to be. It might be great. It might make me a mint. It might not.

    We all recognize that American animation is stuck in a rut. Why are so few of us taking the bull by the horns and doing something about it?

    The internet and digital distribution is putting the power back in the hands of the creatives, WHY ARE WE MISSING THE BOAT?!?

  • http://dailygrail.com/blog/8389 red pill junkie

    I want an Animation movie win ‘Best Film’, because I want animators to throw the best after-show party in all Tinseltown! I want Brad Pitt & Angelina begging to hang out with the layout department, and being denied access because “they are not on the list”! :-D

  • http://deleted OtherDan

    I think I agree with Floyd up at the top. If you’re going to compare the best animated films with the best “live” action. I think it would boil down to the character acting. And, in that case I think the Incredibles was pretty unique and spot on in that department. Wall-E is up there, but on that level I don’t know if it could compare the the best acting amongst it’s competition. When it comes to direction, design, cinematography the best animated films hold up favorably to the live action counterparts. In order for an animated film to win based on that criteria it would be a huge upset and statement to the living breathing actors who didn’t outperform the animators. I would love to see that happen. But, it would mark the beginning of truly a “brave new world”.

  • rachel

    Chiskop said “Animation is a second class citizen ’cause they push crappy stories . . .” and others have insinuated as well that it’s a lack of compelling or fresh stories that keep animation down.

    I don’t mean to be rude, but I think that’s completely preposterous. Sure there are plenty of animated films with weak stories, but certainly no more than the number of live-action films with weak stories.

    I think the sad truth is that for whatever reason, many people are biased against the medium–not just the American public but as Jerry has said, those within the industry as well. Perhaps even more so. Two of my NYC friends–both actors who consider themselves cultured & all of that–turned up refused to watch Persepolis (despite my repeated urgings) because it was a “cartoon.”

    This whole week my heart’s been heavy for a society that seems to have lost its willingness to try something new . . . watching Zappa’s interview, learning–after seeing and loving the gorgeous Swedish version–that Let the Right One In is going to be remade by an American director, and now this reminder of the status of animation in the eyes of the industry.

  • Karma

    I honestly believe it’s more simple then you make it out.

    The reason is quite clear.

    Actors are watching out for their own. They’ll be damned if they let a computer animated robot get an award when an actor could instead bore us with his 20 minute acceptance speech.

    Actor’s Mentality: “Why would I want to vote for a little animated robot when I could vote for one of my REAL friends who EXIST?”