Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Animated Best Picture

The grand old trade paper Variety and its columnist Tim Gray dream their yuletide dreams.

Every year, Oscar pundits speculate whether animated films will be recognized beyond their own category.

And that long-dormant recognition is finally happening — but slowly. ...

Whether cel animation, CG or stop-motion, there is as much creativity behind any animated film. Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences members won’t vote for a film simply because it’s animated — nor should they. They vote for a film, not for a genre. But people need to overcome their shyness about animated films — and I’m not talking only about Academy voters, but every awards voter, and every human in general. ...

What long-dormant recognition is Variety talking about?

Beauty and the Beast was nominated for Best Picture in 1991 after fifty-plus years of nothing. Zero. Zilch. Fantasia didn't get a nomination, nor did One Hundred and One Dalmations, ditto for Yellow Submarine. And after B & B there was more nothing, until finally the Academy created a "Best Animated Feature" category so the continual shutouts looked less embarrassing.

But hey! The Academy has nominated more animated features since, hasn't it? There was "Up". There was "Toy Story 3!!

Yeah, sure there was, after the Academy expanded the category and started getting desperate for more viable, non-laughable candidates. But does anybody think these later pictures, as good as they are, were nominated because of some happy evolution in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences thinking? I mean, seriously?

Listen, I wish to hell Tim Gray was right. That the reason animated features don't win the mainstream Oscars (best picture, best director, best costume, etc.) is because cartoons aren't recognized for the art form they truly are. And that the horrid, long-time prejudices that have held those wondrous animated features back all these years are now changing. And any day now those features will start to win ... and win ... and win.

Except it won't happen. Ever. And it won't happen because live-action dominates the academy, and no self-respecting actor is going to give the finger to his fellow thespians by voting for a movie where actors are heard but not seen. Just like no costume designer is going to vote to hand the "best costume design" Oscar to some g.d. cartoonist. Will. Not. Happen.

Simple math.

So yeah, A.M.P.A.S will throw the occasional nomination to a high-grossing cartoon so that the Academy doesn't look too out-of-touch and dickish. But actually make that cartoon a winner?! When monkeys fly out of James Cameron's ass.


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