The nominations for the 2017 #Oscars have just been released, and the "Best Animated Feature" category offers few surprises. Disney strikes twice with nominations for #Zootopia and #Moana, Laika earns one for Kubo And The Two Strings, while international offerings My Life As A Zucchini and The Red Turtle round out the pack. While some media watchers were surprised by the omission of #FindingDory, the only real shock was that critically praised anime film #YourName, which recently broke the record for highest grossing anime film worldwide, did not make the cut.
The voting process for the "Best Animated Feature" category has come under scrutiny the last few years, and it is easy to see why. Despite the art form moving forward in leaps and bounds, many Academy voters still see animation as simple, fluffy, children's entertainment, but this is simply no longer true. This, and a number of other issues need to be addressed before the vote for this year's winner goes ahead.
There Is A Clear Bias Toward Some Studios Over Others
#Disney films have won the "Best Animated Feature" category eight out of the last nine years. This alone is not an indication of bias, as Disney remains a dominant force in the animation world, and films such as #Frozen or #InsideOut were brilliant and completely worthy of the award. Some decisions, however, have been slightly more questionable.
#BigHero6 earned the gong in 2014, having been up against films such as The Boxtrolls and How To Train Your Dragon 2. While Big Hero 6 is a wonderful film, dealing with themes often unexplored in children's animation, it was far from the clear winner. Fellow nominee How To Train Your Dragon 2 excelled in visuals, storytelling, and the voice performances of its cast. Though a fan favorite, many sadly accepted the film's defeat as soon as a Disney feature was nominated alongside it.
The omission of Your Name is a more obvious example of voter bias. Anime films produced by anyone other than Studio Ghibli are rarely nominated. Studio Ghibli has a hand in nominated film The Red Turtle, but Your Name, which has received equal if not better reviews, has been snubbed. Already, the omission of Your Name has caused fans to claim that the Animated Feature category can no longer be taken seriously, and my next point leads me to believe that they are probably right.
Academy Voters Are Not Required To Actually Watch The Films Before They Vote
As voters are not required to watch the films in the animation category before they vote, many have admitted to simply asking their children who should win. This likely explains why Big Hero 6 won out over How To Train Your Dragon 2. Sure, HTTYD2 was a visual spectacle, but Big Hero 6 has a cool robot.
This is an obvious problem. Children will choose what they like — the one where a character wears their favorite color, is funny, or looks cool. They cannot detect the subtle nuances of story or great visual or technical achievements. A great many worthy winners have likely slipped through the cracks because the voters didn't want to waste their time watching kiddy films.
What Needs To Be Done?
Watch the damn films, voters! It is that simple. How can anyone continue to take the "Best Animated Feature" category seriously when they know the people who voted for the winner haven't even watched the film they are voting for? How can you possibly judge which film is the best if you haven't seen it?
Every issue listed here could be resolved if the Academy voters simply watch the nominated films before they vote. No more studio bias, no more asking the kids. Just the best film getting the recognition it is owed.
Who could say no to that?