The Academy Awards celebrate the very best movies that graced our screens on any given year, with the Oscars often honouring epic war films, patriotic action flicks and the classic cinematic biopic. Some genres and forms of filmmaking are almost totally disregarded by the annual ceremony, however, with documentaries, foreign films and animated features are regularly snubbed of the highest honours.
Giving each of these aforementioned cinematic avenues an exclusive category each, such has meant that some of the best movies of modern cinema, including the likes of Spirited Away, Son of Saul and Searching for Sugar Man, have been restricted to wins for ‘Best Animated Feature’, ‘Best International Feature’ and ‘Best Documentary’ respectively. Though a case could be made for keeping each of these categories, with each one elevating lesser-known filmmakers, animated cinema especially has long been considered mere ‘child’s play’.
Coming to fruition in 2001, the award for ‘Best Animated Feature Film’ has prevented the likes of Shrek, The Incredibles, Wall-E and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse from accessing the golden crown of ‘Best Picture’. Reduced to feeling like a lesser mode of filmmaking, cinema’s most creative and liberating artistic medium has never been taken seriously by the Academy, with members only ever choosing three animated films to be nominated for ‘Best Picture’.
The first animated movie to pick up a nomination for ‘Best Picture’ was Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, a classic of the company’s collection that tells the story of a prince who is cursed to spend his days as a hideous monster. Competing in the main category with other modern classics like Oliver Stone’s JFK and Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs, the animated movie didn’t manage to claim the year’s top prize.
Still, the film didn’t walk away empty-handed, winning ‘Best Original Score’ and ‘Best Original Song’ for Howard Ashman’s ballad named after the movie.
18 years later, Pixar’s Up became the second animated movie to claim a ‘Best Picture’ nominee. Directed by Pete Docter, the 2009 movie told the story of an elderly man and a young boy scout who form an unlikely friendship on their adventures exploring the wondrous Paradise Falls. Included in the lineup for ‘Best Picture’ at the 82nd Academy Awards, it was always unlikely that Up would have taken the award, especially when it was up against the likes of Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker and Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds.
The most recent animated film nominated for ‘Best Picture’ was the 2010 film Toy Story 3, which charmed critics and audiences alike when it concluded Pixar’s beloved trilogy. Though it won Best Animated Feature Film, the movie lost out on the main prize to Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech, which itself controversially claimed the award ahead of the superior David Fincher movie The Social Network.
The only three animated movies nominated for ‘Best Picture’
- Beauty and the Beast (Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise, 1991)
- Up (Pete Docter, 2009)
- Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich, 2010)
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Oscars: The only three animated movies to be nominated for ‘Best Picture’
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