Oscar nominees Best Animated Feature 2014
Earlier today this article was brought to my attention, in which it becomes clear that some of the Academy voters have little to no respect for the animation industry. They openly admit not having watched the nominated films and/or claiming that animated films are for kids, so they didn’t vote. Even the ones shown in the article that did vote barely motivated their choice.
I find this extremely disrespectful of the animators who poured their heart and soul into making these movies, only to have their work be pushed aside without a second glance by the judges of one of the most prominent and well known film awards out there. As an aspiring animator, I am deeply insulted.
Please note that in this post I am expressing no opinion on whether Frozen should have won or not. I think it’s a wonderful film, just as all the other nominees. I am simply saying that we deserve better.
What they did is disrespectful to the creators of every single one of these films, even Frozen. By barely motivating their choice, they make it look like they voted for Frozen simply because of Disney’s status in the industry. Because it’s Disney, and it made a lot of money, so it had to be at least somewhat good. To me it seems like some of the voters just defaulted to voting for the Disney film, and nobody likes to win by default.
Don’t get me wrong, I too have been guilty of loving Disney simply because it’s Disney, but there is so much more beautiful animation out there and it deserves to be taken into consideration. And if Frozen won, it should have won because the majority of the voters thought it was the best film, not because part of the voters was too lazy to even watch the nominated films.
My teacher used to work in the TV industry, and he threw us some pretty harsh truths about which animated films will win the Academy Award, regardless of artistry, story complexity, and execution. Last year’s nominees were Frankenweenie, ParaNorman, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Brave, and Wreck-It Ralph. I remember being incredibly disappointed that Brave won and I told my teacher so. Admittedly I haven’t watched The Pirates! Band of Misfits or Frankenweenie, but I remember thinking Wreck-It Ralph and ParaNorman were stronger films than Brave because they were about how society alienates people different from them and how those respective characters overcame their need to fit in their worlds, embraced their abilities instead of hating them, and saved the people that rejected them. But the truth is, people of the Academy wouldn’t know about any of that because they don’t think animated films are worth their time. He told us that he bet that none of the people of the Academy watched all the animated films, if any of them watched any of the films at all.
He told us that the reason why Brave won was solely because the title, ‘Brave,’ implies that the film shows a greater level of emotional, situational, and artistic maturity that titles like ‘Frankenweenie’ or ‘ParaNorman’ or ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ or ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’ don’t have. ‘Brave’ is a quality, a value that the Academy can appreciate and relate to. It implies a story that encourages kids to strengthen their resolve, overcome what stood in their way and a level of maturity and development that the Academy thinks that kids would most benefit from learning.
My teacher also said that there’s a reason why a lot of the really juicy films come out near the end of any year. It’s because those films are, without question, the freshest in a person’s mind, especially around Oscar voting season. So think about it. Frozen came out around Thanksgiving. And everyone - every wonder-filled kid, every chained down teenager, and every grown up Disney fanatic - gushed and splurged and sang their love for Frozen the minute it hit theaters. And, as pointed out by Nostalgia Critic, people are still praising it/emulating it even though everyone knows how awesome it is. The people who wouldn’t and haven’t stopped singing their praises for Frozen practically made a shiny, glowing, cheatsheet billboard for the Academy to make the most obvious choice for Best Animated Picture.
I’m not saying Brave or Frozen are bad - but the truth is that animated films do deserve better - that Brave and Frozen and all the other Best Animated Picture nominees deserved to be watched in their full glory and judged fairly. The stories, animators, and the characters all deserve so much more than people that think they’re too good for animated films.