Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Animated Feature Snubs

In 2001 the Oscars added the category of Best Animated Feature.  Since then the number of animated movies has increased and for the most part so has the quality.  Here is my list of ten good animated features that should have received an Oscar nomination or at the very least, consideration.  There are plenty of other animated films I could have chosen (even though Home on the Range and Polar Express are not the best they are both superior to the nominated Shark Tale).  There have been animated movies I have not seen yet, such as SpongeBob SquarePants that may also deserve mention.  I am only listing American animated movies, because there are so many great foreign animated movies every year that do not receive any attention.  These are not all perfect film, but they all have quality and ambition that is on par with many of the films that have been nominated or won.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire (Walt Disney Feature Animation, 2001)
What it Was Up Against: Pixar's Monsters, Inc., Nickelodeon's Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, and the winner Dreamworks' Shrek
Why it Should Have Been Nominated: Sure there are definite story issues and the characters do not all fit together well, but this is still a good, ambitious movie.  The visual style arresting, the combination of traditional animation and CG still holds up and there is an incredible score.  There is great work on the characters by the animators and voice actors, especially on Dr. Sweet and Helga.  The beautiful scene where Kida becomes part of the crystal alone is enough to earn this a nomination.  Great animation and experimentation in expanding the audience of an animated feature.
What Feature Took Its Nomination: Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, fun little movie but definitely shows its cheapness and not in the same artistic league.
Why It Wasn't Nominated: Disney was not viewed in the best light in 2001, despite the quality and the risks they took they were held under a lot of scrutiny.  Traditional animation overall was on its way out, the industry assumed that computer animation was superior and did not support its 2D efforts.  The first year of this category coincided with attitudes changing to a CG exclusive mindset, they were not going to nominated a 2D movie.

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (Dreamworks Animation, 2003)
What it Was Up Against: Disney's Brother Bear, the French film The Triplets of Bellville and the winner Pixar's Finding Nemo
Why it Should Have Been Nominated: Just a large scale adventure that is well animated with a lot of creativity in the fantasy aspects.  Definitely unlike any other feature.  There are problems, namely from trying to appeal to too many demographics, but this is still a fun movie with great animation.
What Feature Took Its Nomination: Tough call as I have yet to see Triplets of Bellville.  I would say it is on par with Brother Bear, but I personally enjoyed both of those movies more than Finding Nemo.  I was 12 in 2003 and was rooting for Brother Bear to win and was disappointed that this fun movie was not nominated.

Looney Tunes: Back in Action (Warner Bros., 2003)
What it Was Up Against: Disney's Brother Bear, the French film The Triplets of Bellville and the winner Pixar's Finding Nemo
Why it Should Have Been Nominated: The best feature to star the legendary Looney Tunes.  While not on par with the best shorts this is a worthy addition to the characters' legacy.  The humor riffs on everybody, including Warner Bros. itself with some very clever jokes.  The animation is great and fits perfectly in the live-action settings, the best live-action/animation combination film (that does not try to be a live-action movie) since Roger Rabbit.
What Feature Took Its Nomination: To this day I still easily prefer this movie to Finding Nemo.  Complain in the comments section.

Curious George (Universal, 2006)
What it Was Up Against: Pixar's Cars, ImageMovers' Monster House and the winner Warner Bros.' Happy Feet
Why it Should Have Been Nominated: A movie for young children that is entertaining enough for any age.  Great characterization and loving animation.  It knows exactly what it is and does not force anything else.  Really underrated and too little seen.
What Feature Took Its Nomination: The only other movie I really liked from this year was Monster House (which I was rooting to win).  This could have easily taken the place of Happy Feet.

The Simpsons Movie (20th Century Fox, 2007)
What it Was Up Against: The French film Persepolis, Sony Picture Animation's Surf's Up and the winner Pixar's Ratatouille
Why it Should Have Been Nominated: An Oscar would have looked great next to all of those Emmys and Annie Awards.  I have never been a huge Simpsons fan, but this movie is completely accessible to new audiences.  It is funny and a rather touching family story.  It was cinematic without losing the familiar qualities that made The Simpsons great.
What Feature Took Its Nomination: I actually have not seen Persepolis or Surf's Up.  Ratatouille was easily my favorite film of 2007 (I also found some merit within Meet the Robinsons and I will still defend TMNT), but I will assume that The Simpsons Movie was better than Surf's Up (although I am open to watching it).

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Sony Pictures Animation, 2009)
What it Was Up Against: Laika's Coraline, Secret of the Kells produced by GKids, Walt Disney Animation Studios' Princess and the Frog, the Wes Anderson directed Fantastic Mr. Fox and the winner Pixar's Up
Why it Should Have Been Nominated: This was a fun movie that was quick with the jokes that were all hilarious.  One of the funniest pure animated comedies in a long time.  The stop-motion style made this unique and the designs are very good.  Works on an emotional level too.
What Feature Took Its Nomination: This was a very tough year.  Even though I loved Up, I still preferred Fantastic Mr. Fox and especially Princess and the Frog.  No qualms with Coraline either, this was easily the strongest lineup in the category's history.  Have not seen Secret of Kells (it is like the third film on my instant queue, so I will get to it).  I will just say that this is a year when six films could have made the cut.

Tangled (Walt Disney Animation Studios, 2010)
What it Was Up Against: The French film The Illusionist, Dreamworks' How to Train Your Dragon and the winner Pixars' Toy Story 3
Why it Should Have Been Nominated: Disney takes what works in traditional animation and applies it magnificently to computer animation.  There is a beauty to this movie and an awe inspiring factor to its use of perspective.  Great characters that are relatable, fun and adventurous.  People love this movie for good reason, it is great.
What Feature Took Its Nomination: I actually have not seen either The Illusionist or How to Train Your Dragon yet (can't believe I have not gotten around to How to Train Your Dragon).  Toy Story 3 was easily my favorite film of 2010, but Tangled was not that far off in quality (different movies with different goals, hard to compare).  I will say that this is a year that should have had five, I am surprised that it didn't.  Although if five were nominated then the overrated Despicable Me would have most likely earned a slot, so it is probably better that there were only three...

Winnie the Pooh (Walt Disney Animation Studios, 2011)
What it Was Up Against: GKids releases Chico and Rita and A Cat in Paris, Dreamworks' Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots and the winner ILM's Rango
Why it Should Have Been Nominated: Some of the best working animators put their stamp on these tried and true characters.  This movie is an accurate follow-up to previous Pooh cartoons, but still has its own style.  The script is quick and clever and the songs are terrific.  A movie that is grand in its simplicity and likability.  It does not bombard the audience with humor, but wins them over with its heart and charm.
What Feature Took Its Nomination: This was better than the three American animated films (the other two are in my instant queue).  Deserved to beat Rango.

Arthur Christmas (Aardman, 2011)
What it Was Up Against: GKids releases Chico and Rita and A Cat in ParisDreamworks' Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots and the winner ILM's Rango
Why it Should Have Been Nominated: Aardman's created one of the best, most relatable family dynamics I have ever seen in a movie.  This creative premise shows dysfunction in Santa Claus' family.  The animation is creative and characters are well designed.  This was a great script and one of the best movies of the year.

What Feature Took Its Nomination: Have only seen the three American animated features (Chico and Rita and A Cat in Paris are both on my instant queue).  This was easily a better feature than the two Dreamworks movies and the overrated Rango.

Rise of the Guardians (Dreamworks Animation, 2012)
What it Was Up Against: Aardman's The Pirates: A Band of Misfits!, Laika's ParaNorman, the Tim Burton directed Frankenweenie, Walt Disney Animation Studios' Wreck-It Ralph and the winner Pixar's Brave
Why it Should Have Been Nominated: This was one of the big surprises last year.  Dreamworks made an epic, cinematic fantasy with a lot of adventure, heart and appropriate humor.  The stylized characters all work and create a fun ensemble.  It is one of the best blockbusters of 2012, animated or otherwise.  
What Feature Took Its Nomination: Wreck-It Ralph was really the only animated feature that was better than this.  This should have taken the slot of Frankenweenie, The Pirates! and even Brave.

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