On Friday, March 7th, 2017, Awards Editor for Variety Kristopher Tapley examined the changes made to the voting system in regards to the animated film category. Noting: “Going forward, nominations in the animated feature category will be open to anyone in the Academy willing to join a nominating committee” (Tapley 2017). Normally, the Academy’s committee of voters: “was supposed to be a 50/50 composition of animators and members from other branches” (Tapley 2017), and due to declining voter turnouts, the Academy hopes that this shift will promote animated films.
Tapley notes one of the main issues with the Animated Film Category is the inclusion of short films along with the features, which usually splits the vote. The splitting up between animated shorts and features has been talked about but the talks at the moment are simply opening up to a wider selection of persons to vote if they so chose (Tapley 2017).
“The big studios have no doubt been annoyed by scrappy indies that have found purchase in recent years because of the die-hard traditionalists that permeate the branch” (Tapley 2017).
The die-hard tradtionalists, or animators that follow the original Disney formula using traditional animation, or use traditional animated techniques in general, allow the category of Best Animated Feature to be “diverse” (a word that is over-used to describe essentially everything that is “different”).
“Will the studios come roaring back? I’ve heard they lobbied for these changes and I’ve heard they didn’t, but either way, they could ultimately benefit from them. More people certainly have a potential say in the process now” (Tapley 2017).
What this rule means is that bigger productions, such as “Finding Dory” and “Moana” will have the potential to generate a Win in the Category as opposed to a piece like “Ernest and Celestine” (2013) (which lost to “Frozen” anyway) but paved the way for more recent nominees to come pouring in, i.e. “Song of the Sea”, “The Red Turtle”, and the like.
The troubling issue is the entire category all together, Best Animated Feature. While a fantastic idea and a loving labor, should not be a category in the Oscars, in face, the archaic nature of the Oscars should be in question (see this year’s mix-up between “Moonlight” and “La La Land”). The Awards is an arbitrary accolade that simply exists because it’s been there since Hollywood’s origins. Originally starting out as a grand idea, but now it seems superficial and… stupid, to use a word. Will this move hurt small independent animation? Yes. Will there be more independent animated films coming out? Of course there will. The problem now becomes- how with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which was co-founded by Mary Pickford (who’s 125th birthday is today), handle the situation in a fair manner as they should or do as they always have done and become a pit of lobbyists. However, that is more so disdain for the Academy than the move itself. Frankly, the move is not necessarily needed, much like the Academy itself, but only time will tell if this action will bear any fruit.
Tapley, Kristopher. “Oscars: Will New Animated Voting Procedures Hurt Smaller Films?” Variety. N.p., 07 Apr. 2017. Web. 08 Apr. 2017.