Wednesday, October 07, 2009

More Oscar Slots

Craven, hungry-for power labor rep that I am, I find this to be a good thing:

It may not be just best picture increasing the number of its nominees this year. There's a good chance the best animated feature category could jump from three to five nominees for the first time since 2002, the only year to feature more than three contenders since it was created in 2001.

Academy rules state if there are 8 to 15 qualified animated features it triggers the category in any given year, and if there are 16 or more the nominee count can climb from three to five.

Oscar consultants for Disney, Focus, Sony, Fox and nearly every other distributor with a dog in this hunt are looking closely at the developing numbers and seem to be in general agreement that there are (barely) enough potential films there -- at least on paper. With "Up," "Ponyo," "Coraline," "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs," "Monsters Vs. Aliens" and "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" it has been a banner year for the genre, both critically and especially at the box office. Now with Wes Anderson's eagerly awaited "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" about to debut followed by another trio of films from Disney, it would seem an expanded field is a distinct possibility ...

More nominees for "Best Animated Feature" means more cost-efficient publicity, which means (ultimately) more eyeballs staring at feature-length, artist-created whimsy on big silver screens.

Which means (inevitably) more animated features made for those hungry eyes.

There are those who wish for no "best animated feature" category because they think that animated features should be in competition with their live-action cousins. They believe strongly that animation is every inch the equal of that other kind of movie-making.

Well hey. I believe that too. But I am also one who chooses not to ignore reality by stuffing my head far up my large intestine, for I can tell you the date and the time that an animated feature will actually win the "Best Picture" Oscar.

12 noon on the 12th of NEVER.

That being the case, bring on the "Best Animated Feature" category. And the more full-length cartoons that get nominated for the honor, the better.

Add On: In another section of the digital L.A. Times, Steve Pond reflects on yet another "Best" list:

The magazine and website Time Out London, in collaboration with director Terry Gilliam, has just published a list of the 50 greatest animated films of all time. The Japanese film “My Neighbor Totoro” is number one, Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” is number two, and “Toy Story” and “Fantasia” and “Yellow Submarine” and “The Triplets of Bellville” and “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut” are also in the top ten.

Plus, two films from 2009 round out the list. One of them must be “Up,” right?

Wrong ...

Steve is perplexed that Up isn't listed anywhere on Terry's list. Not at number 4. Not at Number 49. Just ... not listed.

But it's simple. Everyone is entitled to her or his opinion. And Mr. Gilliam, a man with a distinguished directorial track record*, chose not to put Pixar's latest on his "Best" list. Just like some people don't like DreamWorks's animated features.

"In matters of taste there can be no dispute..."

Nevertheless, Mr. Pond believes that we'll see Up as an Oscar nominee when the next Academy Awards ceremony rolls around.

My guess at this point [the Oscar nominees for "Best Animated Feature"] would be “Up,” “Coraline” and “Ponyo,” which might well be the strongest lineup the category has ever had. But I haven’t seen “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” or “The Princess and the Frog,” both of which have real potential. And I have a genuine fondness for “9.” And obviously, I now need to catch up with “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.”

* A generation ago, the young staffers at Walt Disney Productions' animation department tried to get the company to pick up and distribute Gilliam's Time Bandits. The company declined, and some other company ended up reaping profits from Mr. G.'s movie.


Sterfish said...

It's not just a matter of whether or not there are enough qualified pictures. The studios also have to submit the films for nomination. There were enough qualified films released last year but because the studios that released some of the films didn't submit them for consideration, there weren't enough to trigger five nominees.

I hope that with all the animated moneymakers this year that the studios will realize that it might be in their best interest to submit.

Anonymous said...

Is there a cost to "submitting" a film for consideration?

The proprietors of "Delgo" may not want to spend the bucks just so two more films, neither of which will be "Delgo", can be nominated.

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