Food for Thought: The Academy and Animation

Hello, Fenrir here–with a new post day–to share a little bit of some Food for Thought. Or well, for this evening, maybe a bit of some sour grapes? Following the glitz, the glam, the pizza and the selfies of 2014’s Oscar night there’s been some discussion about Oscar winners and of course losers. One of the biggest winners this year happened to be Disney’s Frozen–which, don’t get me wrong, is a fun, beautiful film with a crowd-pleasing ear-worm soundtrack–but it seems almost like a hollow victory.

Idina Menzel "let it go" at the Oscars following Frozen's sweeping win of Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song

Idina Menzel “let it go” at the Oscars following Frozen’s sweeping win of Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song–but did Frozen win because of Disney’s brand name?

Because one really has to wonder: Does the Academy even respect the animation industry?

Honestly, it’s not that much of a secret that the Academy doesn’t care much for the Animation category. CartoonBrew recently released a pretty bleak look into the thought process of some Academy members and their reasons for voting and for abstaining in the Animation category. Number #1’s comment is especially rankling to those of us who know and love animation, but alas, it is what it is: we just can’t seem to let go of that association with “animation” and “juvenile”–as if animated movies are unable to provoke or be thoughtful.

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Why else did 2013 suffer from that pretty big upset when Brave won the Oscar? Especially with strong competition like Paranorman and the imaginative power-house that is LAIKA studios? Heck, even Wreck-it Ralph and Rise of the Guardians were pretty solid movies on comparison to Brave, with their own high levels of character design and story-telling to back them up.  Presumably, Brave’s win was thanks in part to  the same reasons that some Academy members cited in CartoonBrew’s leak: abstained from voting, heard it was good/know that PIXAR is a household name, etc. etc. Again, it seems pretty dismissive of the artistry that goes into making these films.  Ignoring or even dismissing animation ignores the efforts of entire studios full of incredibly talented people–which just rankles for a fan.

Accurate depiction of some reactions during 2013's Oscars

Accurate depiction of some reactions during 2013’s Oscars

Okay, so, no one really watches the Oscars to see which animated movies make the cut. (Maybe except for me) And there are certainly other venues for animated films to get the love and recognition they deserve. Like you know, the Annies! (And the good old  the International Animated Film Society) Plus, this week is the kick off of the New York International Children’s Film Festival, which boasts a substantial list of animated feature length films and shorts with bonus voting rounds, too.

And it’s not as if Academy members have to watch everything they’re given. I understand that they must be busy people, with busy lives, with busy priorities and all that jazz…

… Still, it wouldn’t hurt to get some recognition of animation as an art form instead of as a weird little genre that’s included because animated films can make big bucks at the box office. Budding studios could certainly benefit from the bragging rights and weight that an Oscar carries, and the sort of national recognition that comes from such a big, televised event.

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The 2014 nominees–some which were hits and some which were misses, like any Oscar category–however the feeling that animation still gets shortchanged remains

But alas, it is what it is; though animation is still incredibly popular, and does have the capacity for the sort of complexity that Academy members seem interested in, animated films must deal with a yearly snub. Outside of the Annies, outside of the tinier animated film festivals, animation may remain as something juvenile and not worth a second glance–a point of view that I find incredibly sad, but hope that changes one day to give animated films a fair running, especially on the national stage.

Until then, that’s all there is for today’s snippet of some Food for Thought! If you’re smarting that your favorite animated film didn’t win at the Oscars–especially for fans of Ernest and Celestine–don’t lose heart! The Academy may not (or may never) recognize animated films for their artistry, but hey, at least there are people out there like you and like me that will continue to support and love these films.

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Fenrir

A would-be anthropologist, writer, food historian, and professional glutton hoping to combine fandom with her love of food. Ever wondered what a nug tasted like? Is butterbeer alcoholic? If you've asked such questions and are already drooling at the thought of a big old plate of lembas bread, then you're in the right place

Latest posts by Fenrir (see all)

Fenrir

A would-be anthropologist, writer, food historian, and professional glutton hoping to combine fandom with her love of food. Ever wondered what a nug tasted like? Is butterbeer alcoholic? If you've asked such questions and are already drooling at the thought of a big old plate of lembas bread, then you're in the right place

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