Award Season Focus

Proof That Oscar Voters Are Clueless About Animation

Imagine a world where the most high-profile animation awards were selected by individuals who had neither working knowledge nor appreciation of the animation art form.

In this world, a voter would pick the best animated short based solely on whether the film contained a dog in it or not.

In this world, a voter would identify the Irish film Song of the Sea and the Japanese film The Tale of The Princess Kaguya as “Chinese fuckin’ things,” not watch either film, and still cast a vote for the best animated feature of the year.

In this world, a voter would give a visual effects award to a film not because the film’s vfx met a certain standard of achievement, but “just to kind of recognize it.”

oscarcontention2013featuresSEE ALSO: Definitive Proof That Academy Voters Are Ignorant About Animation

This is not some bizarro awards universe; it’s the world of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, an organization whose general membership is aggressively indifferent towards animation yet hands out three annual animation-related Oscars.

Whereas the animation community once had to share anecdotal stories about apathetic Academy members, now the membership’s handiwork is on full display thanks to the Hollywood Reporter’s “Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot” series. And when it comes to animation, the series might be more aptly titled Brutally Ignorant Oscar Ballots.

For the second year in a row, Scott Feinberg of the Reporter surveyed seven Academy members about who they voted for, and their selections for the animation and vfx categories are beyond comprehension.

It’s not that the Academy members have a poor rationale for their choices; it’s that they often have no rationale at all for their choices. Like last year’s survey, few of this year’s participants appear to apply any kind of objective criteria to judging the animation categories. Some members even acknowledge that they didn’t view all the films, yet still voted in the animation categories.

In fairness, a seven-person survey, even over two years, is still a tiny sample size for any kind of definitive argument for or against Academy members. However, if you’ve ever pondered how The ChubbChubbs! could possibly win an award for best-anything, much less an Oscar, I think this is as close as you’ll ever get to an answer.

Here’s how the seven Academy members voted in each category, followed by a general description of each Academy member.

oscarnominees_2015_featurefilm
Best Animated Feature

Voter #1: If you can call anything a “snub,” this year, it was The Lego Movie, which was one of the best movies of the year. I don’t know what happened there, but it is inconceivable to me. Of the five they did nominate, my favorite is Big Hero 6, which was adorable and original.
MY VOTE: Big Hero 6

Voter #2: Where’s our Finding Nemo this year? It’s not a very great group. I liked Song [of the Sea] and The Tale [of the Princess Kaguya], but I’m voting for [How to Train Your] Dragon [2] because it was superbly entertaining and works on most levels, although its story could be a little better.
MY VOTE: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Voter #3: I never got a chance to watch those screeners. There were so many films to watch and I just had to pick and choose.
MY VOTE: I abstain.

Voter #4: I loved Big Hero 6. Then I saw The Boxtrolls and I thought the animation was great — but the movie didn’t knock me out. I must admit that I have not seen How to Train Your Dragon 2. But I have seen Song of the Sea and The Tale of Princess Kaguya, both of which I loved very much — they were really unique. If I was just voting for animation, I’d have gone with Boxtrolls. But since you have to consider everything, I went with Big Hero 6.
MY VOTE: Big Hero 6

Voter #5: I only watch the ones that my kid wants to see, so I didn’t see [The] Boxtrolls but I saw Big Hero 6 and I saw [How to Train Your] Dragon [2]. We both connected to Big Hero 6 — I just found it to be more satisfying. The biggest snub for me was Chris Miller and Phil Lord not getting in for [The] Lego [Movie]. When a movie is that successful and culturally hits all the right chords and does that kind of box-office — for that movie not to be in over these two obscure freakin’ Chinese fuckin’ things that nobody ever freakin’ saw [an apparent reference to the Japanese film The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, as well as the Irish film Song of the Sea]? That is my biggest bitch. Most people didn’t even know what they were! How does that happen? That, to me, is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen.
MY VOTE: Big Hero 6

Voter #6: I saw all five. I like to sit down with [the young people in her family] and watch them. We all loved Big Hero 6 and there was no discussion, no argument, no nothing. The kids watched that one three times — what does that tell you?
MY VOTE: Big Hero 6

Voter #7: Frankly, I didn’t see any of them.
MY VOTE: I abstain.

oscarnominatedshorts_2015
Best Animated Short

Voter #1: MY VOTE: I abstain.

Voter #2: I watched them twice. They were all beautifully made—each one was terrific and I have no complaints. Funnily enough, the weakest was the Disney one [Feast]. But I was so charmed by [The] Dam Keeper.
MY VOTE: The Dam Keeper

Voter #3: I didn’t get around to seeing them.
MY VOTE: I abstain.

Voter #4: I have seen all of these. Feast is absolutely charming and delightful and lovely. But I really, really liked A Single Life.
MY VOTE: A Single Life

Voter #5: I didn’t do any of that.
MY VOTE: I abstain.

Voter #6: I’m a dog lover, so this one was no contest.
MY VOTE: Feast

Voter #7: The clock ran out on me for these.
MY VOTE: I abstain.

Best Visual Effects

Voter #1: I don’t think I should be able to vote for this category either, but I can’t resist another opportunity to support Guardians of the Galaxy. It should get something.
MY VOTE: Guardians of the Galaxy

Voter #2: I give it to the apes! If you can make people believe and care about apes as credible performers, you deserve a lot of points.
MY VOTE: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Voter #3: I went again with Guardians of the Galaxy, just to kind of recognize it.
MY VOTE: Guardians of the Galaxy

Voter #4: I haven’t seen Captain America [: The Winter Soldier] and I haven’t seen X-Men [: Days of Future Past]. Interstellar was okay. Guardians of the Galaxy was fun. But I loved Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
MY VOTE: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Voter #5: I’ve never seen more freakin’ frontrunner ads for VFX — covers, inside, back covers — than I have for Planet of the Apes. I mean, it was relentless. It brought me back to Apollo fuckin’ 13, which took every cover of everything for like three weeks straight. But they did something that was really great, which was to show you the actors performing in stop-motion-capture or whatever side-by-side with what the shot in the film looked like.
MY VOTE: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Voter #6: Out of all of the nominees, I suspect that Guardians of the Galaxy had the least amount of visual effects, but I voted for it anyway because I liked it so much.
MY VOTE: Guardians of the Galaxy

Voter #7: I didn’t vote here. I’m not so much into special effects pictures, you know? That’s the world that we’re in now, but I’m not in that world. I’m interested in character-driven stories.
MY VOTE: I abstain.

Voter Profiles

Voter #1:
A longtime member of the Academy’s 378-member public relations branch. Female. [link]

Voter #2: A longtime member of the Academy’s 387-member short films and feature animation branch who has been nominated for an Oscar. Male. [link]

Voter #3: A member of the Academy’s 386-member writers branch who was nominated for an Oscar within the last decade. Male. [link]

Voter #4: A member of the Academy’s 1,150-member actors branch who accumulated most of his credits in the 1970s. Male. [link]

Voter #5: A member of the Academy’s 428-member sound branch who has been nominated for an Oscar. Male. [link]

Voter #6: A member of the Academy’s 386-member writers branch who has won an Oscar. Female. [link]

Voter #7: A member of the Academy’s 1,150-member actors branch whose first credit came in the 1950s and who has acted in numerous opposite people who received Oscar noms for their performances. Male. [link]

Latest News from Cartoon Brew