And The Best Animated Feature Oscar Goes To…Avatar?

5 02 2010

The Best Animated Feature Film category was first introduced at the 2001 Academy Awards. The nominees included Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Monsters, Inc. and Shrek, all of them computer animated features. Then, in 2006, both Monster House and Happy Feet were among the three nominees for Best Animated Feature Film. Both films had used an emerging technology, motion-capture, to portray real-life actors’ movements that would later be converted into a digital format. Happy Feet won the 2006 Oscar.

Now, fast-forward four years. The Academy didn’t add any categories for this year’s award show; however, the number of Best Picture nominees has been doubled from five to ten (the last time there were ten Best Picture nominees was in 1943). Among those ten nominated films is the second animated film to ever be nominated for Best Picture: Up. Beauty and the Beast was the first, in 1991. But, if one looks at the five animated movies nominated in this year’s Best Animated Feature category…nope, you’re not seeing double…Up is among the nominees as well.

So how is it that Up can be nominated in both categories? Sure, it’s a feature film (thus the Best Picture nomination). And sure, it’s an animated film (thus the Best Animated Feature nomination). But isn’t that a bit of an unfair advantage? There isn’t a “Best Live-Action Feature” category, is there? And it basically makes the Best Animated Feature category pointless this year. The other animated film nominees didn’t get Best Picture nominations…so, logically, if Up is good enough to be among the Best Picture nominees, it obviously is better than the other nominated animated films, guarantying it a Best Animated Feature Oscar. A bit unfair to the other animated film nominees, in my opinion.

Then, throw this into the mix…why can’t Avatar be nominated for Best Animated Feature?

Sure, Avatar has many live-action characters, sets and props. But the bulk of the film and the film’s major characters are digital, utilizing a similar, albeit more advanced, version of the technology used to make Monster House and Happy Feet. So why can’t Avatar have its cake and eat it too? Up has.

I see this blurry line only getting blurrier. With motion-capture technology becoming more and more advanced, where do we draw the line between live-action and animation? Many critics felt Zoe Saldana should have been nominated for her motion-capture performance as Neytiri in Avatar. But did the Academy think that was going a bit far? It will be a question the Academy, and other awards organizations, will have to address sooner rather than later.

What do you think? Should Up be allowed nominations in both categories? Should Avatar? Where do we draw the line between animation and live-action? Take the poll and share your thoughts in the comments!

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2 responses

18 02 2010
Rob

Here are the Academy’s rules which define Animated Feature:

“An animated feature film is defined as a motion picture with a running time of at least 70 minutes, in which movement and characters’ performances are created using a frame-by-frame technique. In addition, a significant number of the major characters must be animated, and animation must figure in no less than 75 percent of the picture’s running time.”

Avatar meets the minimum run time but does not meet the “75% must be animated” rule. Thus the Academy doesn’t consider it an animated feature. I’m sure Jim Cameron doesn’t want his film being thought of as an animated feature anyway.

18 02 2010
Dustin

I’m sure James Cameron would agree with you! That’s some great info too, I never knew what the “definition” of an animated feature film was; thanks for sharing! After doing some searching online, it looks like Avatar was about 60% computer animated…that’s hitting pretty close to the 75% mark! With computer animation becoming more and more advanced, I think this issue will only get bigger, especially as more and more films explore motion-capture and increasingly CGI films…

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