UPDATE: Turns out that this list is merely a list of all the animated films that are eligible for the award this year, as opposed to anything that has been judged. Thanks to @VoxPopple and @Elab49 for the heads up on my error here.
The Oscars are a funny time for animated films. The category for Best Animated Feature came about in 2001, seemingly because they were so impressed with Shrek they just had to give it an award of some kind. It has largely been the realm of Pixar ever since, who have won the award six times, two of which they deserved. In theory, the category is there to celebrate animated films, and to give them a bit more coverage in awards season. Yet the problem with this (and a very similar issue exists in the Foreign Language category) is that it suggests, somehow, that they are not good enough to compete in the Best Picture category. Since the award first began, only Up and Toy Story 3 have been nominated for Best Picture (Beauty and The Beast was the only previous nominee), and they only made it in because of an increased number of nominees. Yet how many incredible animated films have missed out simply because of misconceptions about the medium?
In 2009, well acted but dull An Education, trite sports drama The Blind Side and the quite frankly atrocious misery porn Precious all managed to score a nomination. Up was the token nod from the Academy to say, hey, we like animation (read: Pixar), but the stunning and inventive The Secret of Kells, which was better than almost all the other nominees, just got an animation nomination. Now it’s crazy talk for me to think that the Academy will suddenly start nominating small, independent, Irish animations in the Best Picture category alongside prestige pics and their precious sports films, but there’s a point to be made here. Animation is deserving of far more attention than one paltry category which, more often than not, only has three nominations.
Not only that, but their choices are often odd. Whilst they frequently make good choices for nominations – Persepolis, A Cat in Paris and The Illusionist are three quite unpredictable picks – their winners tend to be the most technically accomplished films as opposed to those that tell their stories the best, or at least show some real originality. But then just about every film fan has a gripe with the Oscars, so one animation fan complaining about this category is largely meaningless. And no matter how much I whinge, I will still follow the Oscars year in, year out (although most years stopping short of actually watching them). As such, I’m intrigued to see their longlist which has just been released:
Adventures in Zambezia
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
From Up on Poppy Hill
Ice Age Continental Drift
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
The Mystical Laws
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
The Rabbi’s Cat
Rise of the Guardians
Secret of the Wings
Walter & Tandoori’s Christmas
bold denotes the films I’ve seen
Now the two films stand out against the rest, for me, are Brave and From Up On Poppy Hill. They, alongside Wolf Children (I’m unsure about the eligibility of this), are my favourite animations of the year so far. I have high hopes for Rise of the Guardians and Wreck-It-Ralph, and I’ve not heard of many of them, although I look forward to discovering them if they get a UK release. The rather poor Hotel Transylvania doesn’t stand a chance against some of the heavyweights in that selection. One more thing to note – a film making this list does not mean that it is a good film, it just means that a studio has submitted it for contention. The shortlist should (hopefully) sort the wheat from the chaff.
I won’t go into too much detail about each of the nominees now, because the other thing about Oscar season is that it is really, really long. Which means I have to drag this out for all it is worth.
source: The Hollywood Reporter