Furry Movie Award Watch: May
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|
Rise of the Guardians
The Secret World of Arriety
Ice Age: Continental Drift
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Pirates! A Band of Misfits
Rise of the Guardians
The Secret World of Arrietty
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.
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.
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 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 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 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.