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Furry Movie Award Watch: May

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Now seems like a good time to do the “we got snubbed at the Academy Awards” article that every niche-genre news-and-review site must run at least once a year by law. Okay, so it's not exactly forging ahead into 2012, but not much is happening.

crossie’s Current Best Guesses

Oscar for Best Animated Feature (2012) Annie for Best Animated Feature Ursa Major for Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture (2011)
Winner Brave Brave Kung Fu Panda 2
Nominees Frankenweenie
Rise of the Guardians
The Secret World of Arriety
Frankenweenie
Hotel Transylvania
Ice Age: Continental Drift
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
ParaNorman
Pirates! A Band of Misfits
Rise of the Guardians
The Secret World of Arrietty
Wreck-it-Ralph
N/A

The Academy and animation

The Oscars award for Best Picture hasn’t always been accurate; various criticisms could be made against the list of winners, but one that has been particularly true is that the Academy has quite a few genre blind spots, and a large blind spot for an entire medium, animation, as well.

This has been with the Academy from the very beginning; in the early years, Best Picture awards (then known as Outstanding Productions) were awarded to studios, not producers. Walt Disney Studios, the only studio to rely on animation, was the only major studio to receive a grand total of zero nominations. Ironically, Walt Disney himself still holds the record for personal Oscars received and nominated for, mostly for his producer credits on animated shorts, the Academy’s annual bone thrown to an entire medium.

The reason for the bias is probably two-fold; most Academy members worked in live action, so were biased towards it; and most American feature animation was, and still is, aimed at children. Giving an award representing American movies to a kids’ show would have been deemed inappropriate. Still, there are undoubtedly times when animated movies have, if not deserved the award, at least deserved a showing. Heck, even if they didn’t always deserve the award, it’s not like every Best Picture nominee is certified grade-A classic cinema.

Since this is a furry site, I’ll be listing animated movies that feature talking animals in the lead roles. This month, we’ll be looking at five of the earlier movies that could’ve been a contender.

DumboDumbo

Pinocchio and Fantasia are today considered two of the greatest animated movies ever made – Pinocchio frequently makes lists of greatest movies, period – but at the time, they were box office flops, so Disney needed a hit to stay alive. Dumbo became that hit, and managed to win the Original Score award at the 1941 Oscars (music awards are another bone traditionally thrown to animation; over half of all animated movie nominations and wins are for either Original Score or Song).

Should it have won Best Picture? No. On the other hand, nor should have How Green Was My Valley; its victory over Citizen Kane serves as mainstream critics' equivalent of Avatar over Fantastic Mr. Fox for the Oscars.

What makes this frustrating for Dumbo (which managed to stick around a lot longer than How Green Was My Valley and, let’s face it, has been seen by more people than Citizen Kane) is that this is a period when the Academy’s membership was at around fifty, at least according to then Academy president Walter Wanger (as quoted in Peter H. Browne’s The Real Oscar).

One of those fifty? Walt Disney.

In a year of ten nominees, you'd think Disney would at least try and get his movie a nomination. Guess he was too busy polishing his Animated Short trophies.

BambiBambi

Everything that applies to Dumbo also applies to next year’s Bambi, with the added caveats that a) Bambi was based on a best-selling Felix Salten novel, and b) Bambi was meant as a film from the beginning rather than a quick money-maker that gained a life of its own.

Of course, it also failed at the box office, but this is even more reason for a nomination, as the Academy has often gone out of its way to rescue deserving box office failures audiences wouldn’t otherwise look twice at. Admittedly, this practice would become a two-edged sword with the “Oscar bait” phenomenon, but here it would have been deserved.

Mrs. Miniver, the movie that won, is considered a movie of the moment; hard to watch now, out of context, but at the time its World War II messages were much more powerful. Bambi probably didn’t have a chance, but if you asked critics now, it would be Bambi over Mrs. Miniver 10 times out of 10.

Lady and the TrampLady and the Tramp

This movie deserves some kind of special award for making a pair of stray dogs begging for scraps in an alleyway into one of the most iconic romantic movie moments of all time.

The sad part? This movie didn’t even get the usual pat on the head nominations for music. Best Song went not to Lady and the Tramp’s “Belle Notte” or ”He’s a Tramp”, but instead ”Love Is a Many Splendoured Thing” – an okay song if you like that sort of thing, I suppose, but nowhere near as iconic as even ”The Siamese Cat Song”.

The eventual Best Picture winner? Marty, a movie apparently so boring that even Wikipedia can barely be bothered to have an article about it, giving us the shortest Best Picture article on the site. If I had to pick one animated movie that really, truly should have won, this is it.

Fritz the CatFritz the Cat

A long shot, as the Academy has only recently become independent friendly, and being the highest grossing independent animated film of all time is Fritz the Cat main claim to fame. That, and being X-rated and animated.

Okay, maybe 1972 produced two Best Picture nominees that you’ve actually heard of with The Godfather, which won, and Deliverance, the “you got a perty mouth” movie. Can you imagine Deliverance and Fritz the Cat going head to head for Best Picture? Regardless of whatever Ralph Bakshi was trying to do, the fact remains that it was marketed as an exploitation film rather than an Academy film, killing its chances.

Sad, really, as this movie is definitely the furriest movie on this list, if not the furriest movie of all time. Even with Midnight Cowboy’s X-rated Best Picture win three years earlier, this movie didn’t have much chance, but it does prove that hardcore furry has more mainstream appeal than most give it credit for.

The Secret of NIMHThe Secret of NIMH

Director Don Bluth made waves for going rogue, leaving Disney to do animation his way. His vision would prove to be a bit longer than his reach, but the guy still managed to produce at least one classic with The Secret of NIMH. Like Dumbo before it, it might not have deserved Best Picture, but then again, neither did Gandhi.

Most critics agree the year’s top honors should have gone to future Bluth producer and noted animation fan Stephen Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. And Bluth’s movie, ad campaign he had no control over notwithstanding, was even less of a kid’s movie.

In a side-note, 1982 would have been the first year with eight animated theatrical movies – the trigger for today's Best Animated Feature award. The history of animation would have been very different if nominations for this or Best Picture had been available for The Secret of NIMH.

Comments

Your rating: None

Uh, I've got Brave winning this year's Ursa Major; uh, that's a mistke, folks. Still betting on KFP2' though only because I watched way to many Oscar pundits throw away the year long correct guess for a last minute change.

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Yeep. This is what I get for using tables! Sorry about that.

Your rating: None

Yep, Brave is a mistake, all right. Wrong year, and it doesn’t have any anthro characters in it, judging by the trailers so far. But what can we expect for 2012?

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.

Ice Age: Continental Drift

Ted. A lone teddy bear with a potty mouth should make this a strong contender.

Rise of the Guardians. You know that a lot of Furfans will nominate it for Bunnymund alone.

Wreck-It Ralph. Anthro video-game characters, with at least a couple of semi-Furries in a ghost from Pac-Man and the snake from Q-Bert.

The Wolf Children, Ame and Yuki. A 2012 release in Japan. Similarly, a lot of FurFans will nominate this even if all that they’ve seen is the trailer: cute werewolf children!

Zambezia. Lots of anthro birds! So what if The Guardians: The Legend of Ga’Hoole and Rio didn’t get very far? A 2012 release in South Africa still counts.

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. Already out since March and Furry fandom is ignoring it. But it's eligible.

That’s at least eight potential UMA contenders for 2012.

Fred Patten

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Zambesia. Lots of anthro birds! So what if The Guardians: The Legend of Ga’Hoole and Rio didn’t get very far?

Uh, Fred, did you just leak that Rio didn't win this year?

I'm not guessing next year's nominees (in the actual table-wise) until this year's winner is announced, but Ice Age, Madagascar and Rise of the Guardians, with Ted on the outside and probably, yeah, I'll go with The Wolf Children for an early, unofficial guess. Lot of anime fandom crossover in the furry fandom.

I think Zambesia's problem is more being non-American than bird based; it won't get a major American release until next year, and I'm still betting the vast majority of the voters are American. Lot of anime fans, sure, but African animation fans? Not yet. Maybe Rakuen Growlithe will start some kind of grassroots campaign for it. Actually, if anything, I expect it to be more likely to show up at the Oscars, at least as an "early qualifying run" type entrant.

I'll probably be one of those nominating Rise of the Guardians for Bunnymund. Either that, and it will likely garner a Most Disappointing Movie mention from me come December.

Also, I wouldn't count Brave out just yet; I'm sensing some kind of vaguely furry human to bear transformation in those trailers.

Your rating: None

I haven't even heard of it before the Flayrah article. Also not a big fan of birds. Maybe I'll go take a look when it comes out. I can see and review it before you even get a chance. :)

On a side note South African films haven't done all that badly you know. Jerusalema was submitted to be considered as a nominee for the Academy Awards. In 2009 District 9 got four Academy Award nominations and Invictus got two. And, in 2005, Tsotsi won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None

Um, I can't remember if I asked you, Rakuen, but are there any South African Furry novels like Watership Down or the Australian Teeth of the Storm by Rick Wilkinson that have not been published outside of South Africa yet? I ask because of an article on non-American and non-British Furry novels that I wrote for Anthro, which was supposed to be published in the January-February 2012 issue, but that has been delayed indefinitely, so I should have time to add to my article if there is anything worth adding. I could not find any South African Furry novels, but maybe you know of some?

Fred Patten

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I think you did ask. I'm not aware of anything like that. It seems most authors here are more interested in reality and social issues here, which isn't too surprising as you'd expect fantasy like that to be something that gets indulged when people have fewer worries. The best thing I'm aware of off-hand are collections of native stories which are anthropomorphic. I should have also pointed you towards Umuntu, a South African fur that now lives in the US I believe who is a published author. I've met him twice but haven't read his books. I'll have to try get one if I see him again. In case you lost the link he has a website here.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None

Maybe, yeah. The trailer for Brave does have those bear cubs who seem semi-anthro. I figure The Wolf Children as a long shot but a definite possibility because it's coming out in Japan in July, which allows five months for a bootleg video to get to America and into the hands of the fansubbers. Who knows how many American UMA voters will have seen it by the end of the year? And as a foreign-language film, The Wolf Children may be eligible again next year if an authorized dubbed or subtitled comes to America, which prestigious anime features tend to do for an art-house run.

For a REALLY long shot for 2012, Koochie Koochie Hota Hai in India. It won't be released until December which allows almost no time for anyone to see it; and it's in Hindi, which has virtually no American fan base. But judging from the trailer which has been on Flayrah, it surely is Furry!

Fred Patten

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Hey, three bratty younger brothers, three bratty bear cubs. Do the math.

Also, "beastly curse" on all the synopses.

I'm not saying "werebear movie." I'm just saying ... actually, yes I'm saying werebear movie.

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Brave is not out yet as I write this, but The Art of Brave has been published, and it gives away that you are right, Crossaffliction. It is indeed a werebear movie, and therefore transformation/anthropomorphic enough that it qualifies enough for an Ursa Major Award nomination.

Fred Patten

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Crap. Now I gotta review it. Which means I gotta pay Pixar for the privilege to watch their movie.

Well played, Pixar.

Well played.

Your rating: None

Though Brave is not out yet, it did have its premiere earlier this week, so there are 14 reviews available on Rotten Tomatoes; 64%, which puts it considerably lower than Madagascar 3 at the same time period (which actually started in the low eighties and slowly crept down). If the trend continues, it could be the second "Rotten" Pixar movie in a row! (Quite a few of the positive reviews are only vaguely positive, while most of the negative are very negative.)

YES! YES! YES!

I am going to have so much trouble reviewing that movie without bias, because I will admit I want it to fail.

Your rating: None

Nope! I have seen A Cat in Paris, and it's definitely non-anthro. Definitely worth seeing (my opinion; my sister hated it!), and with a funky-but-appealing art design, but non-anthro. Well, yeah for an Oscar or an Annie nomination; but not an Ursa Major.

Fred Patten

Your rating: None

Also, for those of you keeping track at home, this is the second non-anthropomorphic animal movie I've pimped on Newsbytes in as many Newsbytes, so, yeah.

dronon didn't like it, but I am still looking forward to it myself, though unless it gets real un-limited in its limited release, I'll be waiting for RedBox on this one. We never even saw The Artist, the freaking Best Picture, within 500 miles of my section of the world theatrically. Which, actually, good call on that; there were walkouts in big cities when people found out that the not-talking thing wasn't a bug, it was a feature.

We'd probably kill someone here in Oklahoma.

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About the author

crossaffliction (Brendan Kachel)read storiescontact (login required)

a reporter and Red Fox from Hooker, Oklahoma, interested in movies, horror, stand up comedy

Formerly Wichita's only furry comic.