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Here’s to Hoping the Academy’s Rule Change on Animated Films Doesn’t Backfire

Livid Over Animation

Now, instead of having only animators vote for the Best Animated Film, anyone can. If you can’t tell, this is not a good thing.

By Eric McInnis, Arcadia University

Similar to live-action filmmaking, animation is home to both mainstream and independent works, and one can see some very stark differences between each category.

Mainstream animation typically consists of American CGI adventure comedies packed with famous celebrities and intended for a family audience. Independent animation strays away from that, by either being in stop-motion or traditional animation, or delving into other genres, like dramas, or other audiences, such as adults or arthouse fans.

As expected, the latter category of animated films has few household names. Any person on the street knows about “Toy Story” or “Despicable Me,” but it’s rare to find someone who knows about movies like “Waltz with Bashir” or “Anomalisa.”

Image via RubberOnion Animation

Because of said films not getting the spotlight, I’m always excited to see what each Academy Award’s Best Animated Feature has to offer. For those who may not know, the way nominees are chosen for all categories is that each member who identifies in a specific branch of the Academy votes for their specific category. For example, actors can only choose who gets nominated in the acting categories, while cinematographers can only choose who gets nominated in the cinematography category.

In animation’s case, the nominations for both Best Animated Feature and Best Animated Short Film were largely determined by a mixture of members from the Short Films and Feature Animation branch, which is mostly composed of people who work or have worked in the animation industry, along with some select members invited from other branches.

In the past few years, said categories have been flooded with features that the average Joe Schmoe has never even heard of, let alone watched, and almost all of them are either independently produced features or foreign films from other countries.

Said movies were also well-known for snubbing out other popular animated features, such as in the 2015 Academy Awards when the Irish film “Song of the Sea” and the Japanese film “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” had earned nominations over more mainstream fare, including “The Lego Movie” which was considered one of the best films of 2014.

However, things could possibly change, as just recently, the Academy announced changes to who is allowed to vote. For the first time, nominations voting in the Animated Feature Film category will be opened up to the entire eligible voting membership. Invitations to join the nominating committee will be sent to all active Academy members, rather than a select craft-based group.

What does this new rule mean for the future of the category? Well, remember that the next Oscars is still eleven months or so away, so we won’t really know what will happen until much later…

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