Friday, February 27, 2009

Separate and Way Not Equal

Here's a big flash of non-news from the L.A. Times:

Animated films have never had it easy when it comes to the Academy Awards ...

Here, for the first time anywhere, is a complete list of all of the primarily animated films that have been nominated for Oscars outside of the best animated short film and best animated feature film categories, from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in 1937 through "WALL-E" and "Waltz With Bashir" in 2008. As you can see, these 54 films have collectively garnered only 106 such nominations over the 81 years of the Academy Awards, and have won just 22 of them (and only two since the creation of the best animated feature category).

Does this confirm the widely held view that the separate-but-equal best animated feature category was created out of a form of "genre bias" in order to segregate animated films from all others?

Like, this is a shock to anybody?

Animation has generally been treated like a leprous niece or nephew by mainstream Hollywood from the very beginning.

Cartoons are an embarassment for most "real" movie makers. For years, when animation was a small, semi-pathetic ghetto that made money for Disney and nobody else, it was ignored. Now that box office grosses for cartoon features outstrip 90% of the live-action variety and therefore can't be ignored, the Important Players -- those wonderful folks whose films don't make as much money but get all the good restaurant tables anyway -- have outfitted a brightly painted room down in the basement labeled "Animated Feature."

So now they can ignore animation with a totally clear conscience. Yippee.


Floyd Norman said...

Screw 'em. I'd rather eat with the animators, anyway.

Since I'm old enough to have traveled the segregated south in the sixties, I know what it's like to be asked to eat in the kitchen. Trust me. The really nice people are in the kitchen.

Anonymous said...

Was it really the live-action film makers who pressed to create a "Best Animated Feature" category?

I recall it was animation people who lobbied for that for years. I recall reading that June Foray was central in that effort.

Anonymous said...

It's not just a prejudice against animation. It's against anything that doesn't smell "important". A comedy hasn't won best picture since Annie Hall. How many even get nominated anymore?

Anonymous said...

The second post is right. This was lobbied for by the animation branch with June as the spearhead of the meovement.

Whether you like the segregation or not the reality is that this is a way fro animation to be recognized and it wouldn't otherwise. You can dream all you want about getting a Best Picture Nomination, but I sure wouldn't hold my breath. One time in 81 years doesn't exactly sound like good odds to me. This way every year we get a nod and you all opught to be greatful it gets lumped in with the big awards and not the techie awards that no one cares about.

Anonymous said...

Keep animation as separate and as distant from live action, and ESPECIALLY live action Hollywood, as you possibly can. What makes animation great has absolutely nothing to do with that world.

Steve Hulett said...

Since I know little of the internal politics of the Motion Picture Academy, I missed the fact that animation creatives were pushing for the new category.

But the reality holds that animation has been the ugly step-sister as far as Oscar is concerned.

Jeff Harris said...

Here's the thing.

I can't take the Best Animated Picture category seriously because:

1. There's no Best Screenplay For An Animated Picture category.

2. There's no Best Actor/Actress In An Animated Picture categories. I'm still dumbstruck that Mel Blanc, who starred in multiple Oscar-winning shorts, doesn't have one of his own, not even an honorary one if memory serves.

3. The Academy fails to recognize non-kid-friendly films which is why titles rated above PG aren't nominated. Could explain why They chose Surf's Up over the PG-13-rated Simpsons movie.

Sad really.

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