Since the creation of the Best Animated Feature category at the Academy Awards in 2001, Pixar has won four times. But it isn’t just Pixar leading the way when it comes to critical success for animated feature films. Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli won for Spirited Away in 2002 and Aardman’s Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit reigned supreme in 2005. Although admittedly most of the films shortlisted tend to be family films, in recent years those made without children in mind are getting more recognition. Persepolis was nominated in 2007 and latterly Waltz With Bashir became the first animated film to be nominated in the Best Foreign Film category.
By now it is accepted that animated films are well made, receiving glowing critical reviews as well as box office success. So why hasn’t an animated film won in the Best Film category? Beauty and the Beast was the only Disney film to be nominated in this category back in 1991 and the special Best Animated Feature category was created 10 years later in recognition of the quality of animated films. It was a shock to many people that Wall-E didn’t get best film at this years’ Oscars as it was clearly a better film than Slumdog Millionaire and will definitely be remembered more fondly and stand the test of time more than Danny Boyle’s “feel-good” adventure.
So why doesn’t the Academy take these animated films more seriously? I’m not suggesting that the Best Animated Feature category be removed. It’s a good thing that animated films get a section of their own, like Foreign Language films do, but they certainly shouldn’t be omitted from the Best Film category because they are animated. At first glance BAFTA seem to be a little more open minded, with Shrek being nominated in the Best Film category in 2002. BAFTA then subsequently created a category for Best Animated Film, but this only came about in 2006. This makes BAFTA possibly worse than the Academy as they seemed to ignore animated films (excluding Shrek and a Best British Film nomination for Chicken Run) up until the creation of the Best Animated Film category.
Perhaps with the release of Pixar’s next effort, Up, and Wes Anderson’s highly anticipated adaptation of Fantastic Mr Fox, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will start to regard these animated films as films within their own right, and films that sometimes deserve to be recognised and challenge in the Best Feature Film category.
By Hannah Coleman