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The 6 Most Unforgivable Animation Oscar Moments

Few people in the animation community take the Oscars seriously as a barometer for what is cutting-edge or innovative in animation, and looking at the long list of winners from years past, the awards have rarely reflected the development of animation as an art. Still, for one day every year, we pretend like the opinions of the Academy voters actually mean something to our community. That’s especially difficult during the years when the Academy’s choices have shown an even greater disconnect from animation than typical.

1. The Two Mouseketeers (1951) by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera

Between 1943 and 1952, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera won the Oscar for best animated short a remarkable seven times. Now you’re probably thinking, if the Academy deemed them worthy of recognition so many times, these guys must have been visionaries who were creating work that was truly different and interesting. And you’d be wrong. These guys made Tom and Jerry shorts, the most formulaic and workmanlike of any cartoon series produced during the Hollywood era of theatrical shorts.

Hanna and Barbera explored less and pushed fewer boundaries than any other directors during this period, and they were rewarded for playing it safe. In the year they won for Two Mousketeers–their innovation here was adding a second mouse–John Hubley created Rooty Toot Toot, which ranks among the most groundbreaking and beautiful pieces of animation ever produced within the Hollywood studio system. The Academy stopped tossing off Bill and Joe long enough to nominate Hubley’s masterwork, and then promptly awarded Hanna and Barbera their sixth Oscar.

2. Johann Mouse (1952) by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera

The seventh(!) time that Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera won for Tom & Jerry. During the period Bill and Joe were winning their Oscars at MGM, their quiet colleague next door, Tex Avery, was actually revolutionizing the medium, pushing the content to its limits with some of the most violent, erotic and surreal shorts ever made in Hollywood, films that have had a profound and continuing influence on the medium today.

For all those dominant Bill and Joe years (1943-1952), poor Tex couldn’t even convince the MGM front office to enter his films into consideration. MGM and the Academy finally gave him a pity nomination in 1952 for Little Johnny Jet. However, none of Avery’s classics–including Red Hot Riding Hood, King Size Canary, The Cat That Hated People, Bad Luck Blackie, Little Rural Riding Hood, and Symphony in Slang–were ever recognized by the Academy. The final score at MGM: 13 nominations and 7 wins for Bill and Joe, 2 nominations and 0 wins for Tex.

3. The Crunch Bird (1971) by Ted Petok

A lame joke comprises the entirety of this two-minute film. But here’s the funniest part–when it’s time for audiences to experience the film’s sole gag, the screen goes black and the film ends!

Hey Academy, here’s another stupid joke:

The doctor told the patient, “You’re dying.”
The patient replied, “I want a second opinion.”
The doctor then said, “Okay, you’re ugly too.”

When can I have my Oscar?

4. The ChubbChubbs! (2002) by Eric Armstrong

Loud, ugly, and utterly pointless. It doesn’t help that the lead character has disgusting boils all over its body. The short has no point of view or reason for existing, but in the new century, Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and an appearance by Jar Jar Binks are apparently enough to win over Academy voters.

5. The first year of the Best Animated Feature Category
Jimmy Neutron Oscar

For the remainder of eternity, people will look at the first time that the Academy chose to honor animated features, and they will see a nomination for a film called Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. I remember trying to watch this film when it first came out–inbetween bouts of dozing off–and even by 2001 standards, it has the appearance of being made in a yurt in the outer reaches of Mongolia by people who had never touched computers before. How else to explain the big dog turd that rests atop Jimmy Neutron’s head. On the upside, it makes that year’s winner, Shrek, look competently made by comparison.

6. Walt Disney’s Seven Dwarf Oscars
Walt Disney and Seven Oscars

This image in a nutshell is why the Academy can’t ever be trusted to ever give animation its due as a serious art form. How did the Academy choose to honor Walt Disney after he created the first American feature-length animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a marvel of technical bravado and visual beauty? By having a little girl present him with a bunch of miniature joke Oscars. Heaven forbid an award would be presented by an adult colleague with the mental capacity to explain why Disney’s trailblazing achievement was worthy of recognition.

  • I thought that crunch bird thing was pretty funny.=p

    • I gotta agree. just watched it.

    • Rick Dolishny

      … but Oscar WINNING funny?

      • Axolotl

        Well, I didn’t see the other films that were nominated that year.

  • This is an interesting post. thank you

    The part about ‘Snow White’s treatment is especially sad. I don’t mind the cute little joke stuff, but the reality is true: Animation doesn’t seem to be taken seriously by the academy.
    Would REALLY like to see a Toy Story upset in the best Picture race. We’ll see!

  • Don’t forget the way they chose to celebrate Snow White’s 50th anniversary: http://smarterthantheaverage.tumblr.com/post/29191121/oh-mr-lowe-im-such-a-fan

  • Every time I hear about the whole Snow white treatment. It just makes me wish I had a giant piano to drop on the people who are running the academy. Animation is an art form, but the people who are running these things don’t seem to see it as an art form.

  • HermanMelting

    A joke? Made about a cartoon!?!? Well I never!

  • james

    true that it may be not the best choice for a best animated picture oscar nomination, but i’m not afraid to say that i loved Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.

  • These guys made Tom and Jerry shorts, the most formulaic and workmanlike of any cartoon series produced during the Hollywood era of theatrical shorts.

    Ah, no. No, they were formulaic and workmanlike, but not the most so. They were successful because they are quite often funny and audiences then and now go crazy when the characters come onscreen. Hence their wins. Not that I agree with the mindset. I agree that the disregarding of Avery was disgraceful, but so was the ignoring of other high-ranking directors. Even the ones Jones and Freleng (save one) wins weren’t for their best pictures of the year.

    And what about the constant wins and nominations for little darling Disney, while so many absolutely wonderful and equal achievements by Fleischers and Warners were ignored during the 30s? I don’t think I’m alone in sharing Leon Schlesinger’s opinion that the Academy’s little games were disrespectful to the hard work done by not just his staff, but the other studios too.

    As for the Snow White awards, I echo Herman… “A joke? Made about a cartoon!?!? Well I never!”

    • The Gee

      What Thad wrote is pretty much the way I look at it, too.

      I am not quick to dismiss al of the MGM T&J shorts though. Obviously, the other studios were going some fantastic stuff but to diss on the Tom and Jerry stuff as not being worthy….enh… I gotta differ. I’ll review past nominees those winning shorts competed with some time later but for now…

      And, Amid, isn’t that little girl Shirley Temple? She wasn’t just someone picked out of a crowd to present that award. So, for the attendees* the whole presentation meant something. As for the award: c’mon. It is the most unique Oscar trophy ever presented, right? Consider the times, man.

      *And, her presenting it probably was intended to delight audiences through at least promotional stuff like that photo.

      • Jan

        That is, indeed, Shirley Temple. Temple was the number one star at the box office in 1937. Having her present the Oscar to Disney would have been considered an honor.

      • Funkybat

        Gotta agree that Tom & Jerry were not just average, vanilla cartoon pap. Sure, in comparison to some of the stuff being done at Termite Terrace or even “next door” so to speak by Tex Avery, The Tom & jerry shorts might not have been “groundbreaking” but they were well-animated, funny cartoons with characters that the audience is emotionally invested in. That a hell of a lot better than dozens of more modern cartoon shows I could think of, including some that have been on the air for years and get a lot of acclaim in some circles.

        For me, Tom & Jerry were right up there with Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies, Disney shorts and Fleischer’s Popeye when I was a kid. I recall also loving Woody Woodpecker a lot, but whenever I have gone back to watch those cartoons as an adult they don’t quite hold up to my memories. Tom and Jerry do, just as much as the Looney Tunes. Just my two cents.

        I would, however, agree that in general that the Academy doesn’t view animation as anything more than a niche of filmmaking, meant primarily for children or adults with arrested development.

  • I don’t follow your logic… if Shrek was worse than JN, how could JN being nominated (on your list of unforgivable) be worse than Shrek being nominated+winning (not on your list)?

    Oh well, JN was the little film that could, a first feature by almost everyone involved, largely made by people outside the Hollywood system and deserves better than this list credits it for.

  • D.Z.

    You forgot at least three more moments. Snubbing every Satoshi Kon film eligible for a Best Animated Film Oscar, screwing Waltz with Bashir out of the honor by shoving it into “Best Foreign Film” instead, and not even nominating Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly. Plus, you could always bring up Beauty and the Beast getting deprived of Best Picture by haters at SAG who somehow have no problem with Avatar getting the same honor.

    • Andrew Kieswetter

      Not to mention snubbing ‘Ponyo’ in the Best Animated Feature category at last year’s Oscars.

    • Vzk

      Speaking of Satoshi Kon: in 2006 Paprika wasn’t nominated, but Monster House, Cars, and Happy Feet were (and the last one won).

    • BT

      Avatar didn’t win best picture either, it lost to The Hurt Locker.

  • I’m not sure any of this matters to anyone who makes animation for a living.

    • Rob

      On the surface no, but he way the Academy treats animated films reenforces this ghettoization of animation as a bizarre offshoot of ‘real film’, popular only to children, and I think most people here would strongly disagree with that.

      If we want to have animation be seen as capable of having the impact of the biggest live action films, we loose serious footing every time a film about dancing penguins wins.
      Yes, its a stupid award, motivated entirely by politics, but it does matter.

    • Yes, naughty Amid, please keep all posts relevant to people making animation for a living only (price of pencils, lack of work, executives being clueless, long hours, squinting etc). A change of name may be necessary ‘cartoonmoan’ perhaps.

      I thought this was a pleasant enough little read, nothing more

      I vote you carry on doing what you do, those that don’t like it can bugger off, or more than likely come back time and again read it then announce how abhorent your attitude is. The life blood of the internet is vinegar

  • Martin Juneau

    Yes Tom and Jerry is a very formulaic cartoons series since day 1 but Bill and Joe evolved it to made it truly funny and spectacular in each of the cartoons shorts. “The Two Mouseketeers” is probably my most favourite from the winners T&J but it can be claim today as a standard cartoon short. I hoping Tex Avery’s have the honors, and does Bob Clampett BTW.

    This Academy is not the highest place to show animation as art. Even Angouleme (The famous Europpean comic gala.) which celebrate the comic industry as Art reach more variety and new horizons, risks and cultures than the Oscars always did. I think they should take example to Angouleme and most of us also does.

  • Shannon LeClerc

    I stopped paying attention to Oscars a long time ago, its really a massive circle-jerk.

  • Angry Anim

    I agree with you about the other ones, but when it comes to those two Tom and Jerrys, Johann Mouse is pretty damn fantastic…

  • ANy use of the word “yurt” is to be applauded!

  • Brendan Spillane

    I’d say giving the Best Animated Short awards to “Tango” in 1982 & “Logorama” just last year was nothing short of disheartening.

    • I agree about Logorama. It was way too long and strained its humor, but it was also the most original animated short film that year.

      Tango on the other hand is a brilliant one of a kind film. Totally original, using using sophisticated techniques to make a message without preaching. In my opinion, one of the best short films ever.

  • Frank Ziegler

    I hear ya….however I still laugh out loud and some of those Tom & Jerry’s . The timing and sound effects in some of those cartoons is nothing short of amazing.

  • Heh, I remember when Mickey Mouse presented the Oscar to ChubbChubbs that year.
    Good times.

  • Tom Pope

    The Crunch Bird is awesome. Lighten up.

  • Jeffers

    The comments in this list seem to take harsh criticism towards the film-makers themselves. It’s not their fault the academy jury is mostly biased and uneducated as to what constitutes great art and animation. Bill and Joe arn’t the ones who snubbed Tex from recognition. The artists are all just innocent bystanders in this fight over their work.

    • amid

      The artists weren’t “innocent bystanders” as you claim. Bill and Joe’s passive stance played a large role in Tex’s lack of acknowledgment. MGM refused to submit Tex’s films for consideration after Bill and Joe started making Tom and Jerries. After their third or fourth Oscar, Bill and Joe should have gone to Fred Quimby and said, “You know, we love getting all these Oscars, but we insist that you submit our colleague Tex for an Oscar too.” That’s what real men who were confident of their roles would have done. Instead they sat back and allowed MGM’s front office to do whatever it wanted, even when it had a negative impact on the legitimacy of the studio’s submissions.

      Tex wasn’t recognized as some genius after the fact; everybody working in the industry at the time knew he was the most original director. The reaction to his film “Red Hot Riding Hood” made waves across the studios. I’ve read an unpublished first-hand account of the impact it had when it screened at Disney; everybody was inspired and couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Ward Kimball personally called Tex to express how much he loved the film. Bill and Joe were well aware of the higher regard that Tex had within the industry and must have been delighted that Tex’s genius didn’t extend to self-promotion of his work. There’s something to be said for being a slick schmoozer like Joe where awards are concerned.

      • Angry Anim

        I was always under the impression that MGM was about Fred Quimby taking the credit for everything, even though he had nothing to do with those shorts. The only reason I think Tex’s stuff wasn’t submitted to the Academy was because of Quimby’s doing and his inability to understand the humor associated with those shorts.

        I think that Bill and Joe had very little pull when it came to dealing with Quimby, and even if they said anything, it wouldn’t matter.

  • I actually think the Chubb Chubbs is a pretty cute and funny short.

    And I love Johann Mouse, though Mousekeeters is not one of my fave Tom and Jerrys.

  • Isaac

    The Tom & Jerry shorts are extremely well-made. Sometimes craftsmanship deserves an award.

    This article is very spiteful and hateful, a more neutral tone would have done its credibility a world of wonder.

    • Bertha

      “This article is very spiteful and hateful …”

      You must be new here. Allow me to welcome you and introduce you to Amid. Jerry’s articles are also available!

  • ajnrules

    While I agree about The Two Mouseketeers, and Tex Avery getting royally gypped in 1952, I do feel that Johann Mouse was a quality winner. Still, I’d say the 1956 Animated Short race was even more egregious, nominating three UPA shorts, none of which are very good. To this day I still think Magoo’s Puddle Jumper is the worst Oscar winner, although A Greek Tragedy is a close second. (I still don’t know how it could be Luxo Jr. Can anybody explain that to me?)

    • Even though Luxo is an unquestionable milestone film, two things hurt it. One was it’s length: with credits removed it’s around 1 minute, so it may have seemed more like a commercial than an Oscar worthy film. The most damning thing was the wrong-headed perception that the film was made by computers instead of animators. John Lasseter has done an excellent job of dispelling that misconception, but at that time he was not yet a household name (and he probably still isn’t, except places like this forum). And I agree A Greek Tragedy is an embarrassment.

  • Andrew Kieswetter

    I’m still surprised that Jimmy Neutron was nominated for Best Animated Feature. It should have been Disney’s Atlantis,a very under-rated movie.

  • ajnrules

    Oh yeah, I just noticed that having Nibbles the mouse isn’t even an innovation. They had him five years earlier in The Milky Waif, and he played a major role in the Oscar-winning The Little Orphan. Yeah…The Two Mouseketeers was not a very deserving winner…

    To this day I think the reason Jimmy Neutron was nominated over Waking Life was that it’s easier to do the “in crowd shot” that they used when presenting the nominees that year.

  • paolo

    1) I agree about the excessive numbers of Oscars won by the T&J franchise. It is also interesting to notice that as far as I know, probably the WB director who won the most Oscars (not so many, in a scenario dominated by Disney and T&J) was Friz Freleng, who in comparison to his colleagues in WB Tex Avery, Bob Clampett, frank Tashlin and even Chuck Jones, made the “normalest” films (well, they were great anyway, don’t misunderstand me). Well, Oscars are given by an Academy, and in Europe “academic” is a synonym for “conservative, not groundbreaking”… got the pun?
    2) I have began lately to go to Annecy’s festival and it is interesting to point out that the Annecy’s winners in 2007 (Suzie Templeton’s “Peter and the Wolf”), 2008 (Kunio Kato’s “The House in Small Cubes”) and last year (“The Lost Thing”) won also the Oscar an year later. What’s the matter, you will say, the Academy finally recognizes groundbreaking animation? Well, actually, when I think of these films and compare to other seen in the same competitions, I am afraid it is the other way round: it is probably Annecy’s juries which awarded the “academicest” films.
    3) In conclusion, don’t let us complain too much about prizes, usually they are forgotten whereas groundbreaking work is remembered, be it prized or not

  • anon

    I thought it was sweet that a little girl gave Disney the award, afterall Walt said himself that his movies are aimed at the children in us all so what’s so bad about having a little girl present the award for a movie created to be and was enjoyed by everyone of every age group.

  • Daniel J. Drazen

    I have to give props to Tom & Jerry. What I take away from the shorts was their almost total reliance on purely visual humor, with almost no recourse to verbal humor or dialect characters (notwithstanding the inclusion of a Comedy Darkie in some films). It was physical humor that’s not even practiced that much nowadays in an era of stunt voice casting. Makes me wonder whether Shrek would have achieved anything like its success if not for the voice work by Eddie Murphy and Mike Myers.

  • Mister Twister

    We have to move away from the “Highlander” approach to evaluating art.

    There is no ONE BEST.

    There is no NUMBER ONE.

    There are many animated features, shows and shorts that are equally good. There is no point giving some kind of award to just ONE.

    There can be MORE than one.

  • The Academy Awards has always been odd about how they present stuff and they do make animation look tawdry and childlike. Especially when they have the characters in the audience. However I do feel the list of nominees over the years has gotten better, I really did enjoy a lot of the films that got nominated this year and last year for Animated Short. Are they the best films, no. However I think the issue with the quality of animation in the Awards has less to do with the final vote on who wins but more to do with how you qualify. It would be a very good piece to go through the ins and outs of qualifying and the workarounds.

  • Courage, A Cowardly Dog

    Haters gotta hate! I was hoping this would be a list of masterpieces snubbed for us to rediscover.

  • Hal

    I almost whipped a remote into my television when Chubb Chubbs won over DAS RAD and MOUNT HEAD in ’02, but then SPIRITED AWAY deservedly won best animated feature… so I suppose that’s the price you have to pay for a masterpiece to get the recognition it deserves sometimes. At least this year’s shorts were interesting across the board – even Night and Day was exceptionally inventive for a Pixar short (and that’s saying something)!

    • ajnrules

      I remember thinking, “If something other than SPIRITED AWAY wins, I will turn off the TV and never watch the Oscars again.” And naturally the Best Animated Feature was the first one presented. Thankfully, it won, and I was on cloud 9 the rest of th night.

  • Mark Sheldon

    The bottom-line is the Academy understands live action film making as an artform and as a process but has very little point of reference for animation. I’ve never been a huge fan of the concept behind Best Animated Feature because it illustrates the fact that animation is viewed as something aside “real” film making.

    I appretiate the idea of lesser known films getting nominated and getting some exposure but the attitude borders on cindisending. When, for example, you make descision to show characters from the film animated anxiously awaiting the announced winner you seriously devalue the film makers actually waiting to hear if they won.

    Oh and by the way I have two words for you Happy freaking Feet!!! Are you kidding?

  • James Mason

    There is no way the academy would have allowed any of Walt’s feature length films to be nominated over any of the feature length films made by other studios.

    Walt had been walking away with Best Animated Short for almost 10 years straight before MGM more or less fixed the jury to vote for its cartoons from 1940 onward.

    It is amazing “The Milky Way” didn’t make the list, particularly over all of the others on the list, even compared to other Harman-Ising shorts

    Special Oscars were often given to those that defied category, or to people who were beloved even if their films didn’t warrant nomination. Bob Hope also got a miniature statuette, among others, for his talents as well.

  • Having an animated Woody Woodpecker or Mickey Mouse hand out an Oscar is a sure way of saying animation is a category for kids films. Unfortunately, the animated films nominated tend not to be for children.

    THE CRUNCH BIRD was a piece of garbage, but the Oscar enabled Ted Petok to raise the money to do a CRUNCH BIRD feature. It was 90 mins of garbage and never got released. I got to see it on the editor’s movieola.

  • tgentry

    I thought the crunch bird was pretty lame. I knew what the punchline was going to be half way through, and I had to bide my time until… yep there it is. Bad animation, bad voice acting, bad joke.

    I disagree with the Jimmy Neutron assessment. It wasn’t Oscar worthy by any means, but I enjoyed the writing and characters.

    • I’m sort of two minds about Jimmy Neutron. I’m not sure why the feature was nominated but I thought the series was great. Maybe it was uneven at times but visually I thought it was great especially considering what was probably a feeble budget

  • pez

    This is why ASIFA is so important. things like the Animation Archive and the Annies need our support. Oscar will never respect animation the way we can. So Studio AND animation artists Support what matters.

  • Well written.

  • When did the Academy begin to limit voting on certain categories like shorts to members who had actually seen them?

    It may be that that some of these films we’re not supposed to like predate that rule, particularly the long Hanna-Barbera stretch?

  • I liked Jimmy Neutron- I always thought Disney’s “Mars Needs Moms” and “Chicken Little” ripped off the plot of the original movie- even though I was turned down by fact-checkers, who clarified to me that these were not ripoffs of “Jimmy Neutron”

    Ohhh, the Jimmy Neutron cartoon was entertaining and the “Jimmy Neutron Power Hour” trilogy spoke for itself.
    (secretly, I liked “The Fairly OddParents” better than Jimmy Neutron and to this day think Butch can run a company like Walt Disney did)

    Allthough it didn’t deserve the award as much as “Shrek” or “Monsters, Inc.”, it still had some charm and thought of it like Diana Ross’ “Lady Sings The Blues” Best Actress nomination unknowingly.

  • Amid, I agree with your 6 choices and ajnrules’ addition of A Greek Tragedy. I am also dismayed that a modestly humorous film, Leisure beat out the exquisite The Street by Caroline Leaf.

    It’s unfortunate Quimby was such a jerk, but Avery did get a total of 6 nominations, 2 each from Schlesinger, MGM and Lantz, not too shabby but not nearly enough considering his accomplishments.

    I heard from someone at the AMPAS that The Crunchbird won because voters saw none of the films and blindly selected the only US film on the list, shortly thereafter the rules were changed to allow voting in that category only to members who attend special screenings. It was at one of those screenings that I saw the tepid Chubb Chubbs, and heard several in the voting audience laughing hysterically, and I feared my choices were doomed.

    But I think the Academy gets it right more often than it gets it wrong, consider these winners:
    Toot Whistle Plunk & Boom, Moonbird, Ersatz, Frank Film, The Dot & The Line, Tango, Every Child, Anna and Bella, The Man Who Planted Trees, Creature Comforts, The Wrong Trousers, The Old Man and the Sea, Father and Daughter, Ryan, Harvie Krumpett, The Danish Poet and I left out a lot of great winners and all those great nominees, after all it’s an honor just to be nominated.

  • Shawn’s Bro

    Dissing Tom and Jerry is really just cronocentic narrow mindedness on your part. Yeah, the golden age of Hanna Barbara doesn’t stand up to the culture shift between the 1940s and now, but back then a cute mouse stuffing a killer crab into a cat’s shorts was hilariously funny.

    • The Gee

      Well, the fact that a cat could be wearing shorts is still funny.

      So, I don’t think it is “chronocentric” for him to not see that as being a valid way to approach a cartoon or cartoon humor.

      But, you are right that Amid should consider that there is a level of relativity which should be applied when considering the times were different and that did affect how audiences reacted and appreciated cartoons and that the times certainly determined how and why cartoons were made the ways they were.

      From the critical and historical perspectives considering the times something were made is obviously essential. He knows that though. So, I don’t see why there is a need to criticize him for not considering that. That said, this topic is about the Academy and its narrow-mindedness….so…it should stick to that focus.

  • Scarabim

    **Ohhh, the Jimmy Neutron cartoon was entertaining and the “Jimmy Neutron Power Hour” trilogy spoke for itself.
    (secretly, I liked “The Fairly OddParents” better than Jimmy Neutron and to this day think Butch can run a company like Walt Disney did)**

    Hokey smoke, you’re kidding, right? Walt had an innate sense of storytelling, characterization, and artistry Butch has never displayed. Bring the idea of “heart” into it, and Butch fails that test altogether. Maybe the Fairly Odd Parents cartoons had a spark of inspiration and charm long ago, but now they’re noisy little horrors.

    Anyway, I think “Johann Mouse” was a delightful exception to the usual Tom and Jerry rule of trying to murder each other. The cat-and-mouse chase in “Johann” was tempered with a smart story, and that scene where Tom plays the piano while Jerry dances is absolutely amazing. I love it. I’m glad it won the Oscar. But again, it was an exceptional Tom and Jerry cartoon.

  • Bryan

    While formulaic, the T&J shorts are, IMO, far more enjoyable than Most of Walter Lantz’s output, most of the Paramount color Popeyes, and just about any Terrytoon. That said, H&B still didn’t deserve 7 Oscars.

    The biggest animation crime of all time is definitely Tex Avery not getting an Oscar, even a special award.

    A more recent Oscar travesty is the omission of Sita Sings the Blues on, IIRC, a technicality.

  • Karen

    For the record–Shirley Temple was the top box office draw of the time, and her [not particularly good] films saved Fox studios from bankruptcy.

    That said, it would have been much more interesting to have Charlie Chaplin give him the award.

  • Doug Nichols

    I love this site.

  • Robert Fiore

    I suspect the preponderance of Oscars for Tom & Jerry cartoons had as much to do with block voting by MGM employees in the Academy as anything.

    “The Crunch Bird” is not only a dimwitted schoolyard joke, it’s a thoroughly clumsy interpretation of the joke. How many voice actors do you suppose there were who could do a better Jewish dialect than that? It must have been in the dozens. The animation makes a Jay Ward cartoon look like Fantasia.

  • This is ridiculous, the oscar for snow white is the best oscar ever given.how that is insulting i dont know. Cartoons are for kids and adults, kids coming first, how does that makes something less artistic? Honestly i love this blog but you seem to come off kinda disgruntled and bitter whenever you do more then give the news. Chill out have fun, draw some cartoons

  • You had to remind me that I once paid $14 for my kid and I to see Jimmy Neutron, which was nothing more than the pilot for the TV series!

  • Doug

    Interesting post and responses. I’ll put Tom and Jerry up against any cartoon from any era for sheer joy and entertainment. And as an earlier poster said, the time and sound effects are always ‘pitch perfect’.

  • RobEB

    SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS was nothing short of a sensation when first released, and the fact that the Academy chose to make the special, one-of-a-kind Oscar to honor it speaks volumes.

    And as for TOM AND JERRY, they are the finest Hollywood cartoons ever produced, period.

  • Tony Montealegre

    Thanks for linking Rooty Toot Toot from YouTube. I highly enjoyed that short.

  • Brandon Pierce

    1937: Disney’s boring “The Old Mill” winning over the emotional “The Little Match Girl” by Columbia, I thought was an awful steal.

  • It’s wonderful to read so many impassioned opinons about the Academy Awards. I’m a member of the Academy. It’s supposed to be an honor, but the only really good thing about being a member is that I get sent over 60 movies to look at free. Otherwise, we just have to accept the fact that it’s all hoopla, and that few understand that animation is the world’s greatest art medium. It’s only we workers in the frame-by-frame world!

  • snip2345

    But in the photo you can clearly see that Walt DOES have an actual Oscar! For Pete’s sake…

    A lot of these examples (the last 3, to be precise) I do not personally see as being “horrible choices by the Academy.” Jimmy Neutron was animated in Texas by the same studio that planned for the film to have a TV tie-in, so they leveled the quality of the film FOR that. It was also the first CG Nicktoons, and while still a bizarre nomination, was a big to-do at the time. As for Chubb-Chubbs, that was the first animated short for that studio as well, and I remember it being received very well in theaters.

    I don’t even need to look at the top of this page to know which brewmaster wrote this.

  • I thought Crunch Bird was a nice little cartoon – and it’s right that it should cut when it does. Showing the gag would have been superfluous and killed it… not quite as much as trying to turn it into a feature, though.
    And I have to defend Tom and Jerry – formulaic they may have been at times, workmanlike perhaps in their later years, never at their peak – but the best ones are a pure, timeless, unadulterated joy to watch. That’s important too, and not to be sniffed at.

  • ShouldBeWorkin’

    Sure there may have been better pictures, but Tom and Jerry is not formulaic. Cat and Mouse, yes, but always unique situations. It is sad studios could shut out directors. I did not know that.
    I used to parrot the response of the Snow White Oscar but when one thinks of how alien the film was at the time; for Disney to hit it out of the park for the first drawn animated feature, the old guard must have been shaking in their boots to think of what SW winning best picture would have done. They may have feared every other film would be animated, perhaps live action being a thing of the past. An upset would not have been the word to describe it. Whatever I conjecture, it was revolutionary but they had to acknowledge it. I say it was a pretty classy move in hindsight. In some ways the award stands out more in history.

  • The biggest injustice has to be Toy Story 3 defeating How To Train Your Dragon. Even if we accept that technical achievement might be fairly consistent between the two, Toy Story 3 is very unoriginal, even for a sequel, with new characters apparently dropped in solely for merchandising purposes. OTOH, Dragon is charming, cinematic in scale and yet personal, and is from a largely untapped genre.

    • However, the stigma that All Dreamworks movies have pop culture jokes and bathroom humor killed it’s chances to beat TS 3.

      You don;t like it, deal with it.

      • Alex Stanlake

        Dragon is a key work in removing that stigma though. Even the shorts have been good. It’s unfortunate Madagascar and the like weren’t pushed in that direction too.
        I adored Toy Story 3 – and growing up with 1 and 2 meant the final part was intensely personal to me – but I have only watched it once, and I continue to re-watch Dragon. 2010 should have been Dreamworks’ year.

  • defender of the temple

    Hey- Shirley stayed up ALL night building that 7 dwarves oscar statue all by herself and now you come along and diss her!

  • loreleip

    Academy rules create a situation where animation filmmakers have to be rich. They have to have to PAY a movie house to play their short film for 3 consecutive nights, arrange through mailings (expensive) to get Academy members to see the screening or screener DVD (expensive,) AND fund the creation of their work, etc.. This is why crap like Chubb-Chubbs gets seen and is even considered – they have major money and studio backing. Every once in a while one slides in under the door, but not many. The process is patently slanted, canted, and stoooopid.

  • I think giving the Oscar to a sequel of a sequel is rewarding studios for playing it safe as well. I guess the more things change…

  • Kel

    How come Tom and Jerry won all those Oscars?

    Cause they’re gooooooooooooooooood.

  • sigh

    You don’t need to dis Tom and Jerry to appreciate Tex Avery.
    I’m just sayin’.

  • I like “Tom and Jerry” I thought “The Two Mouseketeers” was a cartoon.

  • Jeffrey Gray

    Didn’t MGM do some weaselly things regarding getting their films Academy consideration?

    For example, I read about the whole Rhapsody Rabbit/Cat Concerto thing in (I think) Joe Adamson’s book about Bugs Bunny. You know, the story about MGM accidentally receiving developed footage from WB’s short, and kicking production on their cartoon (admittedly already in development) into high gear. How both films were being submitted for Oscar nomination, and MGM’s film was screened for the Academy first, leading them to not even nominate WB’s cartoon because they dismissed *it* as the derivative?

    Basically, was the Cat Concerto thing a coordinated sabotage, or just bad luck for Warners?

  • AJ Gutierrez

    You do know that’s Shirley Temple presenting the honorary oscer to Walt Disney, Rigt? For a “Little Girl” she was a very famous child start that grabbed the hearts of her audience including Adults.

    Now if it was presented by say Justin Beiber, now that’s something you would want to kick The Academy in balls for.

  • John

    “This image in a nutshell is why the Academy can’t ever be trusted to ever give animation its due as a serious art form.”

    Dude, you’re totally right. I guess that explains how Walt Disney still holds the record of taking home the most Oscars over anyone to date. He just barely made it into the lead spot with 26 Oscars and 64 nominations, narrowly escaping Cedric Gibbons with 11 wins. Phew, so close!

  • To be honest, I thought Happy Feet winning in 2007 would be on this list.

    • Agreed, though 2006 was a pretty bleak year for animated feature films, like the only one in that line up that is even somewhat fondly remembered was Monster House. A part of me wishes no one was given an Academy Award and each nominee got a paper covered in barely legible cursive red ink with a “see me after class” note on it.

  • Johnno

    I have to agree on the act that the snubing of virtually all of Satoshi Kon’s films for Oscar consideration is by far the biggest crime…

  • James Ciambor

    Tom and Jerry were not innovative they just had identifiable characters that have transcended generations their one of the few Golden Age characters that today’s generation still knows of which still counts for something. Even if they are not the greatest that the Golden Age has to offer. Though your right I don’t see Tom and Jerry making the same artistic jumps that Disney, Warner Bros, or UPA did. Tom and Jerry don’t really expand on the cat and mouse cliches and for them to make up the bulk of biggest Oscar Mistakes is no mistake.

    Jimmy Neutron from what I heard was being promoted heavily by Nickolodean it shows how disconnected that they are with audiences. They should have just stuck with what they had succeeded with in the nineties this program was a sign that their Golden Age of Rocko, Ren and Stimpy was over.

  • No mention of Logorama?

  • Paul N

    If you want to see that special Oscar in person, it’s in the lobby of the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. Very cool.

  • Joshua

    One selection that looks really bad in historical retrospect is the 1940 Best Cartoon Short Subject. You’ve got only three nominees, one of which is the first regular Bugs Bunny cartoon, and another of which is the first Tom & Jerry cartoon. And both of them wind up getting passed over in favor of “The Milky Way.”

  • MarkMcD

    Well, what mainly riled me about the Chub Chubs was that its entire plot was lifted from an Al Feldstein story in Panic!, EC’s own MAD imitation from the 1950’s. I know; an Academy Award cartoon that just retells an old joke, who knew.

    Maybe I never gave Jimmy Neutron a chance, but I just couldn’t stand watching a character WHO SCREAMS EVERY WORD OF DIALO-O-OGUE!

    And let’s look at Tom & Jerry for what they were: slickly made and a perfect fit for the very popular MGM feature programming of the time. As with today, the specialized categories are probably decided according to which one Academy voters have even heard of. All love to Hubley, but what popular films did his cartoons precede?

  • I can understand disagreeing with Tom & Jerry winning instead other entrants, but is it really necessary to shit all over Hanna and Barbera’s work like that? You may think other films deserved to win more, but that doesn’t mean the Tom & Jerry films are tripe.

    The Two Musketeers is “#1 most unforgivable animation Oscar”? Oh please. How in the world was it worse than “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” or “The Further Adventures of Uncle Sam Part Two”? Are you kidding me?

  • Stephen Rhodes Treadwell

    I don’t care for Tom being killed at the end of The Two Mouseketeers. He also dies at the end of Mouse Trouble but that doesn’t bother me because of the way he dies.

  • Jimmy Neutron wasn’t that bad a movie, it had a lot of charm considering it’s low budget. I’d say it absolutely deserved its nomination, the bigger crime that year was seeing Monsters Inc. lose out to Shrek 1.

    • Charlie

      I went to see it as a kid, and I enjoyed it (I liked the TV show too). It’s obvious that it was made quite cheaply compared to its competition, but they’d clearly put effort into it.

      The only other big animated films that year (as far as I can tell) were Recess: School’s Out, Atlantis, Pokemon 3, and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. (There were also a couple of live action/ animation combo films, but I’m not sure they would qualify). Atlantis seems like the only real competition for Neutron’s nomination, being more visually appealing, but that was considered a bit of a dud.

      Even though I like Shrek, I agree that Monsters Inc probably should have got it.

  • blandyblottschalk

    Shrek isn’t bad… Don’t be cruel to me, Amid.

  • blandyblottschalk

    I think the seven dwarf Oscars was actually a fellow animator’s idea.

  • Bill “Danger” Robinson

    Jimmy Neutron was quite enjoyable.

  • Stephen Treadwell

    Tom & Jerry’s definitely different & interesting.