Those Oscar Missed: Best Animated Feature

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CONTRIBUTED BY JAKE THOMPSON

Animated films have been with us for so many decades, and yet the Academy only created an official category for them just over a decade ago (it’s especially odd considering how many decades the Best Animated Short category has been around).  I remember when it was first created; there was a lot of talk that we’d never see an animated film get a Best Picture nod ever again (1991’s Beauty and the Beast was the first and only animated film to do so).  Despite the presence of this category, 2009’s Up and 2010’s Toy Story 3 still received Best Picture nods.  As for the major snubs, even I was surprised when I actually managed to find some.

One major snub is 2001’s Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.  Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of the “Final Fantasy” video games, directed this groundbreaking animated film (the first photorealistic computer animated film) about a pair of scientists who are trying to free a post-apocalyptic Earth from a deadly yet mysterious alien race known as the Phantoms.  Featuring the voices of Ming-Na Wen, Donald Sutherland, Alec Baldwin, James Woods, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, and Peri Gilpin, the critical reception was mixed and the film was not a box office hit (largely due to the fact that it was based on a video game).  Its acceptance has grown since then, but it’s still such a shame that Sakaguchi wasn’t nominated for his work here (especially when Jimmy Neutron, which I liked, was nominated).  He has yet to receive a single Oscar nod.

The actual nominees at the 74th Academy Awards were:
Shrek – Aron Warner (*Winner)
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius – John A. Davis & Steve Oedekerk
Monsters, Inc. – Pete Docter & John Lasseter

Another major snub is 2003’s Tokyo Godfathers.  Satoshi Kon’s third directorial effort is inspired by the 1948 John Ford film Three Godfathers.  Kon’s film centers on three homeless people in Tokyo who discover an abandoned newborn baby on Christmas Eve.  Using the clues they find in a bag that was left with the baby, the trio set forth to look for the baby’s parents.  This is such a terrific film that shows the ways we are connected, no matter how small, and is ultimately a tale of family and forgiveness.  It’s too bad Kon wasn’t nominated for this film, for he had never received a single Oscar nod.

The actual nominees at the 76th Academy Awards were:
Finding Nemo – Andrew Stanton (*Winner)
The Triplets of Belleville – Sylvain Chomet
Brother Bear – Aaron Blaise & Robert Walker

One major snub that definitely comes to mind is 2004’s The Polar Express.  Based on the short story by Chris Van Allsburg, Robert Zemeckis’ film computer-animated film centers on a boy (who has lost faith in Santa) who is brought to the North Pole aboard a magical train, and along the way he rediscovers his faith in Santa and Christmas.  Supposedly it was Zemeckis’ decision not to submit this film for Best Animated Feature (he felt that the motion capture performances would be focused on rather than the animation), but this surprise holiday box office hit should’ve been nominated nevertheless.  It’s such a shame that the Academy didn’t nominate this film here (though it did get nods for Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Original Song).  Zemeckis is a two-time nominee (1 Original Screenplay nod for 1985’s Back To the Future, 1 Director win for 1994’s Forrest Gump).

The actual nominees at the 77th Academy Awards were:
The Incredibles – Brad Bird (*Winner)
Shrek 2 – Andrew Adamson
Shark Tale – Bill Damaschke

Another major snub would be 2008’s Waltz With Bashir.  Ari Folman wrote and directed this Israeli animated film about his search of his lost memories of his experiences as a soldier in the 1982 Lebanon War.  It is one of the few animated documentaries ever made, as well as one of the first Israeli animated films in over 45 years to be made.  It’s a shame that it wasn’t nominated here (or for Best Documentary Feature, but it did manage to get a Foreign Language Film nod).  Folman has yet to receive a single Oscar nod.

The actual nominees at the 81st Academy Awards were:
Wall-E – Andrew Stanton (*Winner)
Kung Fu Panda – John Wayne Stevenson & Mark Osbourne
Bolt – Chris Williams & Byron Howard

One final major snub would be 2011’s The Adventures of Tintin.  Hands down, the best animated film of the year.  Based on the comic book series by Herge, this motion capture computer animated film follows a young reporter, Tintin, who, along with his dog Snowy, goes on a treasure hunt with Captain Haddock for a sunken ship that was commanded by an ancestor of Haddock’s.  Featuring the voices of Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost, the film is a fun and exciting thrill ride that harkens back to Spielberg’s own Raiders of the Lost Ark.  It’s too bad the Academy didn’t nominate this terrific work here (though the film did get an Original Score nod). Spielberg is a 13-time nominee (4 Director nods for 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1982’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, and 2005’s Munich, 6 Picture nods for 1982’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, 1985’s The Color Purple, 1998’s Saving Private Ryan, 2005’s Munich, 2006’s Letters From Iwo Jima, and 2011’s War Horse, 2 Director wins for 1993’s Schindler’s List and 1998’s Saving Private Ryan, 1 Picture win for 1993’s Schindler’s List).

The actual nominees at the 84th Academy Awards were:
Rango – Gore Verbinski (*Winner)
A Cat In Paris – Alain Gagnol & Jean-Loup Felicioli
Chico and Rita – Fernando Trueba & Javier Mariscal
Kung Fu Panda 2 – Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Puss In Boots – Chris Miller

Other films that were considered include 2001’s Millennium Actress, 2008’s Ponyo, and 2009’s Mary and Max.

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