Disney drives the Oscars 10 out of 15 times
by Meredith Mclaughlin
With the Oscars coming up, I find myself asking a question I think about every year: will the Oscars judge their animation nominees properly? Honestly, I don’t know. I’m not huge on watching the Oscars, but if there’s one category I care about it’s the award for Best Animated Feature. When it comes to the animation section of the Oscars, many people who are passionate about the medium find that the Academy does a pretty bad job accurately judging which film is actually “the best.” The Oscars have been judging animation as a separate category since 2001, and Disney/Pixar has won the award 10 out of the 15 times. While I think we can all agree that Disney makes pretty quality movies, when compared to other films with less brand recognition, they often come out as the lesser film. This is because the people judging animation at the Oscars have no idea what they’re doing.
Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg interviewed seven Academy Voters on their voting process for the 2015 Best Animated award, and got some interesting reactions from the apparently distinguished critics. Two out of the seven voters didn’t even see any of the movies, and those who did seemed more concerned that The Lego Movie wasn’t nominated than in the actual quality of the movies. Voter #5 in particular was quite stung by The Lego Movie’s snub, “When a movie is that successful and culturally hits all the right chords and does that kind of box-office — for that movie not to be in over these two obscure freakin’ Chinese fuckin’ things that nobody ever freakin’ saw? That is my biggest bitch. Most people didn’t even know what they were!” The Oscars is supposed to judge quality, not popularity, but I’m not an Academy judge so what do I know? On a side note the two “Chinese Fuckin’ things” are apparently referring to the Irish film Song of the Sea and the Japanese film The Tale of Princess Kayuga. Both of those movies have 99% and 100% scores on Rotten Tomatoes respectively, which easily beats award winner Big Hero 6’s score of 89%. I’m not saying that Big Hero 6 is a bad film, but it does seem that these judges will vote for the most popular film rather than the most impressive film. And 10 times out of 15, that film is coming from Disney studios. Animation is a complex medium that needs judges who know what they’re talking about; having people with no objective understanding of animation judge which film is the best is like having Rob Schneider have the final say in the Best Actor category.
So it’s clear that the Academy judges aren’t credible critics of animated films. Two of the nominees this year, Moana and Zootopia, are Disney studio movies. And like in 2014, their competition boasts high critical acclaim despite not being as popular as the films from Disney. However, I wouldn’t be too troubled if Moana won considering it is a quality movie that deserves the praise it gets. But while Zootopia is also a good movie I wouldn’t consider it being more worthy than Kubo and the Two Strings or My Life as a Courgette for the Golden Globe it received. All I’m asking for this year is for the Academy to break out of their Disney favoritism and judge these films fairly. All because Disney is the most popular studio doesn’t mean their movies are inherently better than those that got less recognition. I mean a 150 billion dollar film is bound to have better advertising than Laika Studios but that doesn’t mean the bigger-budget film is deserving of the award.