Note: I would like to add that most of the movies that I believe would benefit from having animation legitimized by a Best Picture nomination are made by Pixar, however, that does not mean that all are. Pixar movies are just a good way to approach this article because the studio consistently comes out with complex animated films. Also, Pixar's Up and Toy Story 3 were nominated in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Disney's (which is the parent company of Pixar) Beauty and the Beast was nominated in 1991.
Pixar's Inside Out was one of the best movies this year, and it received plenty of praise for that accomplishment. It has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. However, I do not think this was enough. It deserved a Best Picture nomination. Now, I am not saying it should have won. It was a fantastic movie, but it was slightly childish. It did not have as much depth as some of the other Best Picture nominations. Yet, it was not just another animated movie. It was so much more. So, it seems unfair to confine it to the Best Animated Feature category.
The nomination of more animated movies for Best Picture would legitimize animated movies. Don't get me wrong, the majority of animated movies are aimed towards children. While many of those are charming in of themselves (Kung Fu Panda and Penguins of Madagascar come to mind), they are not the type of movies that push the boundaries of film. There are exceptions, though. We need to reward the animated movies that appeal to everyone and even accomplish things that would not be doable in live action. This happened in 2009, with Pixar's Up receiving the nomination. The nomination made waves and brought respect to animated films, since it was the first to be nominated since the last animated movie (and also the first) to be nominated for Best Picture: Beauty and the Beast in 1991. Up was also the first 3D animated movie to be nominated. This happened again in 2010 with Toy Story 3. This movie appealed to everyone, and the toys needed to be animated to be brought to life. Now, think about Inside Out, for example. How could that incredible story be told in live action? It is simply not feasible. Even if a studio had a budget large enough to create the world inside Riley's head, it would still be unable to produce the movie. It would be very strange to cast live-action actors and actresses as emotions, Bing Bong, and the other characters inside the mind. In addition, some scenes, like the abstract thought sequence, would be impossible to film. An animated movie has not been nominated in five years, and this is too long considering the strides being made in animation.
Nominating Inside Out for Best Picture would also be popular among movie fans and be good for the Academy. In recent years, the Academy Awards have received a lot of flack for Best Picture nominations for movies that not enough people have seen. Many of the films nominated this year received little press and made little at the box office. For example, Stars Wars: The Force Awakens made more at the box office than the eight films nominated for Best Picture combined. Now, I am not saying that only popular movies should be nominated for Best Picture. However, when late night television shows are making jokes like, "What even is Spotlight or Brooklyn?", it shows that these movies are a bit too obscure to be considered the crowning achievement for that year in film. Animated movies, especially the good ones, are generally seen by more people, and have large advertising budgets. Seeing Inside Out, and animated movies in general, nominated for Academy Awards can make those who have seen it feel more included in the "exclusive" Academy.
Finally, the nomination of Inside Out for Best Picture would increase the diversity of the field of nominees. Especially when you consider how many movies are nominated for Best Picture, it makes sense that at least one be animated. Inside Out, for example, is unlike all the other nominees in 2016. Many of the nominees involve real events and/or are inspired by other media. Inside Out is very relatable because it involves daily life. Also, its original screenplay merits an Oscar nomination. Overall, it is a very different movie from those that were nominated.