Sunday, January 07, 2007

Oscar Watch

Who will hold the coveted statuette this year?

Word is that, despite the apparent flood of animated features in 2006, only 15 films met the criteria for Academy consideration for Best Animated Feature (Arthur and the Invisibles was submitted but lacked sufficient animation to be considered an animated film). As a result, there'll be only three nominees, and frankly, I think that's a bit of ashame. Some will point out (correctly) that last year wasn't exactly the strongest in terms of film quality, that there weren't any truly great animated films, so it doesn't matter which ones get nominated...

I would argue that that's all the more reason why there should be five nominees. It would be one thing if there were one or two clear frontrunners, as there usually has been in the past. In that case, what's the point of arguing about which films are the fourth and fifth best? But an Oscar nomination is a pretty decent honor in and of itself, and in 2006 there wasn't that one standout film, but instead there were a handful that were pretty much in a critical dead heat.

Take a look at the "fresh" ratings from for the best reviewed animated features of '06:

Happy Feet 77%

Flushed Away 76%

Cars 76%

Over the Hedge 74%

Monster House 73%

I'm hard pressed to look at that grouping and separate out the three most deserving of nomination. Of course, reviews aren't everything. For example, the ASIFA judges included Open Season (which ranked 49% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) at the expense of Flushed Away in their nominations for the Annies. For all I know, the Academy voters will have their own criteria, and might make Curious George (70% fresh), A Scanner Darkly (65% fresh) and Ice Age: The Meltdown (56% fresh) their three nominees.

I've had lots of conversations with people both inside and outside the industry, as well as with a couple of reporters who will be doing Oscar stories, and it appears that there is much less consensus about which films should get nominated than ever before. At the end of the day, though, I guess it really doesn't matter too much. Given the way these things go, I think there are only two films that have a chance to win the little gold guy, regardless of how many are nominated. And in the long run, no one really remembers the nominees that don't win.

Oh, and in case you're curious, the ill-fated Arthur and the Invisibles, which was denied it's chance at Oscar glory, scored a snappy 5% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes.


Anonymous said...

It's a shame that the nominations have been reduced to three because now it's very unlikely any of the smaller gems (like Paprika) stand a chance of being nominated.

Anonymous said...


Happy Feet
Monster House

Diverse, incredibly well put together, and the least smarmy of all of them.

Jerry Beck said...

It's too bad the Academy couldn't qualify 16 nominees this year, but it's up to the companies who really control these things to submit their films. Had The Weinstein Company (the people behind ARTHUR AND THE INVISIBLES) submitted DOOGAL for consideration there still would have been enough qualified films to trigger 5 niominees. There were several independent releases - like Phil Nibbelink's ROMEO AND JUILET: SEALED WITH A KISS - which could have made a big difference, as well. As it is, the three nominees this year will be very strong pictures which, all in all, will look very good for the animation community.

Anonymous said...

In the case of Phil's film he did submit, but it didn't make the grade because it hadn't screened in NY.

I also don't know if I'd count on those 3 anonymously mentioned above to be the noiminees either. While Cars seems sure (though I don't see it as THE front runner) I think there's at least 4 or 5 good solid films that are all jockeying for the 2 and 3 spots. I wouldn't count any of them out yet.
I'm curious to see Arthur and the Invisibles and see for myself if it appears more of a live-action film or an animated film. I'm not sure those things can always be measured by specific percentages.

Kevin Koch said...

I think there are only two films that have a chance at the Oscar (notice I'm not suggesting there are only two deserving films, just that for a variety of reasons, many of which have little to do with the actual films, only two films will garner significant votes by Academy members):

Happy Feet and Cars.

Anonymous said...

You're most likely right, Kevin, but with so many desrving films it's very possible that Happy Feet might not make into the nominations. Though it probably has a better chance than many if for no other reason it's one of the most recent films in the theaters.

You have to remember that the nominating committee has to see 12 of the 15 possible films and grade each one independently and with so few slots available it's a crap shoot. Even a few negative grades could have an impact on any of the films.

Anonymous said...

>>I'm not sure those things can always be measured by specific percentages.<<

Nor can the number of films deserving of nomination be measured by how many eligible submissions they get. I hope they change that rule as a result of this. Too many deserving films are getting left out, as every Satoshi Kon fan is painfully aware of.

BTW, I did see Arthur, and it does have a lot of live action in it - enough that I was thinking "I bet it gets disqualified." Wish I'd said it out loud to somebody.

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