Well, here we are again at the granddaddy of movie award shows. As someone who is involved in the writing of the field of animation, I figured it’d be best to offer a few words up on the Oscars and the only category that matters to yours truly: Animated Film.
Generally, I only care about results when it comes to award shows, much the same way as when I watch shows. I don’t follow the Oscars for their over-bloated pageantry, self-aggrandizing celebrities who pat each other on the back and give meaningless compliments to other influential people they know, or to watch people on the Internet have meltdowns over “x amount” of diversity or lack thereof. I’m just interested in the movies themselves, the people who put the work into said films, and the statistics behind it. So, here’s a list of the past 10 winners, with studios, to give a recent historical representation of this category (and note, the year is when the movies came out, not the award ceremony date, which is always the following year.)
2015: Inside Out (Pixar)
2014: Big Hero 6 (Walt Disney Animation Studios)
2013: Frozen (Walt Disney Animation Studios)
2012: Brave (Pixar)
2011: Rango (Paramount Pictures)
2010: Toy Story 3 (Pixar)
2009: Up (Pixar)
2008: WALL-E (Pixar)
2007: Ratatouille (Pixar)
2006: Happy Feet (Warner Bros.)
So going back a decade, Pixar has unsurprisingly dominated the category, taking 6 out of the past 10 awards- but only twice in the past 5 years. With Finding Dory locked out of the category this year, it’s guaranteed another studio will win it. And it may very well be Walt Disney Studios, who won two out of the last 3 times and managed to get two cracks at the award this year with Zootopia and Moana, which both made the grade. As for the outliers on this list, Rango was a surprise in a very weak year (2011) and Happy Feet was much the same, beating out the underwhelming (by Pixar standards, anyways) Cars and Monster House when the category only had 3 entrants in that year.
Historically, this category does not bode well for foreign film nominations, despite the uptick in such films for the category this decade. Only two times a non-American studio has taken home the prize- Aardman Animations in 2005 with Wallace and Gromit, and Studio Ghibli with the classic Spirited Away in 2002. Since 2001, that means only 12.5% of the time this award went to a veritable outsider; comparatively, Pixar has won 8 out of the 17 times the category has been an award- an astonishing 47% success rate, which is unreal for one studio. It honestly would be refreshing to see The Red Turtle or My Life as a Zucchini break through, but I’m not holding my breath.
The Academy also loves nominating stop-motion films if they get one, with the addendum that they almost never win. In fact, the aforementioned Wallace and Gromit is the lone example; while 5 out of the past 8 years including this one (Kubo and the Two Strings) have a nominee, including 3 movies of this variety in 2012, exactly zero have won. That could very well change, but it’s a little dubious for Studio Laika as it stands.
If you haven’t heard, or have been living under a rock the past 5 years, the House of Mouse has re-found its lost magic and has to be considered the favorite to bring home the award, with a 40% shot between its two nominees. I’ve believed for a while now that Zootopia, with its themes and message (not to mention, it actually pulled the “anthropomorphic animal” film off and was totally refreshing with it) will probably win the award, especially given recent history for the studio as well. At any rate, whether you love the Oscars or not, or are just here to read about more animation, it’s a strong category this year with 5 very worthy entries, which have had compelling cases made by plenty of other people. If you’re ever unsure what to think though, take my word for it: go out and watch the films yourself! There is no substitution for actual experience, and only then can you really form an original opinion. May the best movie win, and here’s hoping 2017 proves to be equally compelling!
Like what you see? Surprised I wrote about movies for a change? Leave a comment!