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 – 8th April 2011

Unless you have children or are a big fan of Neighbours then we have nothing for you this week. Well there’s a film about a killer tyre, but you’d need to get to Brixton for that.

The Roommate
At college Minka Kelly is assigned Leighton Meester as a roommate and Meester develops a violent obsession. Sounds hot.

A pet bird goes to Rio with the bird of his dreams and then finally we can be done with the awful Orange adverts for Rio at the cinema.

Mars Needs Moms
Milo’s mum is kidnapped by Martians because… Mars needs mums (sorry “moms”) and he learns how much he truly needs his. Probably gets to do cool stuff in space too.

Tomorrow, When the War Began
Rachel Kinski from Neighbours leads a cast of teenagers who return from a camping trip to find that Australia (where they live, keep up) has been invaded and their families are missing. Guerilla warfare with teens, Battle Royale this ain’t.

Armadillo (limited release)
Danish documentary following soldiers in Afghanistan for six months. It won the Grand Prix de la Semaine de la Critique at this year’s Cannes film festival which is all kinds of impressive, and French.

The Silent House (limited release)
Foreign horror famed for being shown (if not necessarily shot) completely in real time with a single camera. No crazy editing here just terror and such.

Cold Fish (limited release)
From the BFI: “Sion Sono’s outrageously splattery thriller, allegedly based on fact, shows an innocent tropical-fish seller caught up in serial murders and corpse disposals.” Sounds awesome.

Rubber (limited release)
A tyre comes to life, falls in love and blows up things with it’s mind. If you can’t make it to the Ritzy tonight for the midnight screening you can buy it on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday.