January 24, 2012

Academy Award Noms and Snubs: Best Animated Film

I don't usually rant here, but I need to make an exception this time.  The Academy Award nominees were announced, and I agree with a lot of them. Hugo was a fantastic film, I saw it twice in the theater, and it deserves the 11 nominations it received.

However, I do have a problem with the 2011 Best Animated Film category. Here is the list:

Animated Feature Film

"A Cat in Paris" Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
"Chico & Rita" Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
"Kung Fu Panda 2" Jennifer Yuh Nelson
"Puss in Boots" Chris Miller
"Rango" Gore Verbinski

I admit, I have not seen the first two films, nor have I even heard of them, although I will make a point to now. Therefore I will say nothing more about them.

However, I have seen Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots, and Rango. 

I loved Rango. However, I did see Rango in a theater full of families with little kids that were simply too young for the film. Rango is not Cars, and clearly was not made for toddlers. So, the kids got bored, started screaming and crying, and basically ruined my movie-going experience. Rango was visually absolutely stunning, yes. For little kids? No. It was funny in a witty and subtle way.

Please keep in mind, animation is a medium not a genre!! Just because a film is animated does not mean it's for kids. That used to be the case perhaps, but not anymore.

Puss in Boots was cute but forgettable, and the Kung Fu Panda movies have never grabbed me. They're ok, but meh. I like them and enjoy them, but only on a superficial level. If I want to have a moving emotional experience (to characters with depth and story with meaning), while watching an animated film, I'll pop in Finding Nemo, Wall-E or Up. Not Kung Fu Panda.

Pixar has dominated the Animated Film category at the Oscars, as well it should, for many years.  This year, not even a nomination was made for Cars 2. Justifiably. Nobody in their right mind would consider Cars 2 an Oscar-worthy film the likes of Wall-E, Toy Story 3, or Up. The only reason they made Cars in the first place has to have been to offset all the Disney Princess stories that appeal to little girls. Plenty of Princess dolls, dresses, etc for elementary school girls. Not much for the boys.  

Disney/Pixar "Cars"
A film chock full of colorful talking cars filled that void, and is clearly a massive cash cow for Disney/Pixar. The merchandise for that film has been incredible. Every time I turn around I see a little boy wearing a pair of Cars sneakers or backpack or whatever. Cha-ching cha-ching!! 

The films exist not because the Cars movies hold a candle to any of the other Pixar films in existence, but simply because they're talking cars. Nothing little boys and their parents love more than talking cartoony automobiles. (Think: Thomas the Tank Engine's never-ending popularity with the 2-5 year old male demographic.)

But, if the cash flow from movies like Cars must be made to fund high-quality Pixar stories like Up, Wall-E, and Toy Story 3, then so be it. Take the good with the bad. Nobody is forcing me to watch them.

That being said, considering how much of a powerhouse Pixar is in the industry, I guess it's a big deal for them to not even be nominated, even though the film didn't deserve it. Eh, whatever.

"The Adventures of TinTin"
Which brings us back to the issue at hand, the Academy Award Nominees. My biggest problem is WHY was TinTin not nominated? It's accrued a massive amount of accolades this year, but now somehow NOT even nominated for the Oscar?? I know the Academy Awards are all about politics and who knows what was going on behind the scenes. Delicate egos in Hollywood and such, but come on. It's the best animated film this year, hands down. 

One argument is that it was done using Motion Capture ("Mo-Cap"). OK, fine. Maybe if you're a super-purist that could be construed as a legitimate argument, but then how do they explain Happy Feet (also made with Mo-Cap) winning Best Animated Film in 2006 (beating out Cars that year, mind you).  Therefore that argument doesn't have two legs to stand on. 

There must be some other forces at work. The anti-TinTin squad of the Academy or something. Spielberg's War Horse got 6 Nominations. Tin Tin got only one, Best Music (Original Score) - John Williams. Maybe they're sick of seeing Spielberg and Peter Jackson dominate the Oscars. Well, when either of them starts putting out mindless dreck, then so be it, their time has passed. But not yet.

Bad call, Academy of Motion Pictures. You're wrong on this one.