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Saturday, January 8, 2011

The State of the Race: Best Animated Feature - A Look Back, and Forward

Thanks for playing, everyone else!

It's thanks to Pixar, really, that the modern animated film is something to talk about in terms of the Academy Awards. Well, Pixar, Disney, and Dreamworks. And, of course, Hayao Miyazaki. The four major players in the category since its conception in 2001. Pixar has five of the nine available trophies, losing only two nominations. They are, undoubtedly, the kings of the mountain. This year, with Toy Story 3, they'll get their sixth Oscar and maintain their title. Of course, we should look at this objectively and talk about the other nominees. But, let's face it - if Toy Story 3 isn't winning this, no one is. 

15 animated films are in contention for the nominations this year, which means that only three of them will be nominated. Had just one more been listed as eligible, we would have five nominees. It's a weird way to work the category, but that's just how it's done. 

I'm pretty sure it will wind up looking like this - 

How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

We could have a "Secret of the Kells" wtf nomination like last year, and that would most likely come from My Dog Tulip. But, it doesn't have a lot of traction. Neither, of course, did Secret of the Kells. So, really, anything can up. On the outside looking in are Shrek Forever After and The Dreams of Jinsha, both with steady enough support, though the love for the Shrek films has gone down exponentially since the first Shrek landed the first Animated Feature award in 2002. I feel almost like its consideration is its prize. It did well, and got a nice enough critical reception, but that's it for the film. 

Disney's Tangled also stands a strong shot, but will most likely be left out in favor of The Illusionist. Other than Shrek and Tulip, Tangled probably presents the most thread to The Illusionist, which is - for all intents and purposes - our third nominee.

An interesting set of statistics on the category 

Only five foreign films have been nominated, with only one winning (Miyazaki's Spirited Away).
Only ten traditionally animated (2D) films have been nominated, with all five foreign included in that category.
Seventeen computer animated films, four of which are Dreamworks, and seven of which are Pixar. 
Four stop-motion nominees, during the course of the category. One winner.

And, with the advances in 3D technology, we're unlikely to see a change in those stats' ratios. More and more computer animated films are implementing the technology, and a step-back is not going to happen. Some may see this as the death of traditionalist animation, but as long as filmmakers like Hayao Miyazaki are around, we'll have 2D entries as often as they can be pumped out. 

As far as this year goes, though, one traditionalist nominee, and two computerized nominees from the people who jump started this category and brought it to the heights it is at now. Pixar, and Dreamworks. 

Who will win, though? We'll have to watch to see. 

but it's gonna be Pixar.