Is the Animated Feature Oscar Just for Kids?

A large number of films have been submitted for the Best Animated Feature Oscar at the 2012 awards, and despite there being a good mix of family films and more adult features I can’t help but feel that only those with a child friendly approach will have any chance of taking home a statuette.

The 18 submitted films are:
Rango, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots, Rio, Cars 2, Hoodwinked Two! Hood Vs. Evil, Gnomeo & Juliet, Mars Needs Moms, Winnie the Pooh, The Adventures of Tintin, Arthur Christmas, Happy Feet Too, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, The Smurfs, Alois Nebel, A Cat in Paris, Chico & Rita and Wrinkles.

Amongst the list I can see two films I know to be aimed at a more mature audience, Chico & Rita with its story of love and music, and Alois Nebel the beautifully dark tale of a man haunted by the past. The latter absolutely blew me away and deserves all the awards it can get, yet I cannot imagine it getting the gong in February next year.

Looking back at the winners in the Best Animated Feature category, only established in 2001, the winners are always films for all the family. Six of the previous ten winners are for Pixar films, and I hope it isn’t too controversial to call these family films suitable for all ages. This is not a criticism as all six are excellent films, however these victories have meant that equally worthy, and perhaps less child-friendly, films such as The Illusionist and Persepolis have not got the recognition they deserve. Maybe it’s not even about being a family film but about being a fun comedy, something that animation is more synonymous with than drama.

The introduction of this category itself is thought to exclude animated films from the Best Picture category and, while certainly not against the rules for an animated film to win, has been the case so far. By giving the animated films their own category it sets them aside from live action features, almost suggesting a second place position and making them unlikely to take home the biggest award of all. This diminished ranking makes the Best Animated Feature Oscar feel like a more “fun” award and so much less likely to go to a dramatic film like Alois Nebel and more likely to go to a family comedy like Rango (which I adored too).

This is all just my personal opinion and I am more than happy to be argued against or even proven wrong in February. Animation is a true art form and deserves to be recognised as such whatever the genre the animation may be.

Out Now – 10th June 2011

Don’t get excited. The lack of a Wednesday release doesn’t mean that the week’s big release is out today, it just means that there is no big release this week. Unless Kung Fu Panda 2 counts? At least it gives the smaller films more of a chance.

When we reviewed this back in October we weren’t convinced and even awarded it the Lindsay Lohan Award for Biggest Mess at the end of the London Film Festival. I stand by my conclusion: “There’s a chance Kaboom was brilliantly stylised and I just didn’t get it, but more likely it’s a terrible film.” At least you get to see at least one erogenous zone on each member of the young, attractive cast (hello Juno Temple!).

Kung Fu Panda 2
It’s Kung Fu Panda 2.

Mother’s Day
Three brothers on the run from the law return home to find a family living in their mother’s foreclosed house. Cue sadistic violence taught to them by lovely old mum. Out in plenty of time for… Father’s Day.

Raise Ravens/Cría cuervos (limited release)
Spanish drama easily defined by its IMDb keywords: Orphan, Spain, Adultery, Bird In Title, Childhood Fantasy, Child’s Imagination, Child Psychology, Mother Daughter Relationship, Sister Sister Relationship, Widow, Animal In Title, Childhood Trauma, Flashback, Little Girl.

Honey 2 (limited release)
It took a bit of detective work to find the link between Honey and Honey 2, the titular Honey isn’t even in it, but I got there. The dancing bad girl looking to turn straight (the film’s lead) for some reason stays with Honey’s mum. Going out on a limb, this probably isn’t a good film.

Point Blank (limited release)
French thriller about a nurse trying to save his wife, kidnapped by a thief’s henchmen to force the nurse to help the thief escape from hospital. It all sounds a bit ridiculous. I mean, a male nurse!?