Furry Movie Award Watch: July
This month, nothing new is going on in the circuit, so I have devised a thought experiment to try and guess what movies might have been nominated and won Best Animated Feature if it had always existed as an Oscar category.
crossie’s Best Guesses
|Oscar for Best Animated Feature
|Annie for Best Animated Feature
|Ursa Major for Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture
|Rise of the Guardians
|Rise of the Guardians
|Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
The Rabbi’s Cat
The Secret World of Arrietty
From Up on Poppy Hill
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Pirates! A Band of Misfits
The Secret World of Arrietty
Ice Age: Continental Drift
Rise of the Guardians
First of all, until 2011, in order to be activated, eight films must be submitted to the Academy and qualify as animated features. In other words, there must be eight films in the year for the award to be given out. For the purposes of this thought experiment, I will be using Jerry Beck’s Animated Movie Guide as if any movie he counts as an animated feature was submitted to and qualified by the Academy.
This thought experiment posits an alternate universe where the Academy immediately drafted the Best Animated Feature rule after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. However, they would wait over half a century before enough films to qualify were produced to give out anything but the Special Achievement Award. So, here are the first five years that would have qualified.
The first year to feature eight theatrical animated features, and actually, it’s still a cheat, since Hey, Good Lookin’ was not released in Los Angeles until the next year. However, we’re going to pretend it was put up for a qualifying run when everyone realized this could be the year.
No animated movie was nominated for any Oscar that year, and the Annies would not have a Best Animated Feature category of their own for another decade, which would be the best way to pick possible winners. This choice is going to come down to quality of movie alone. In that case, there is an obvious winner, but who were the Monster’s Inc. and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius of this alternate universe?
The obvious winner is furry favorite The Secret of NIMH. Simply no contest. Of the other contestants (which include an X-rated animated porno, by the way), most are completely forgotten today. The only ones that seem to have any shot are The Last Unicorn, which I am vaguely aware that I am supposed to be more than vaguely aware of, and the aforementioned Hey Good Lookin’, which has Ralph Bakshi’s name attached to it.
Winner: The Secret of NIMH
Nominees: Hey Good Lookin’, The Last Unicorn
It would be another four years before enough animated movies would come out, though 1986 provided a bumper crop with 12 movies. Unfortunately, the vast majority have not gone down as classics. Releases included the Care Bear movie considered bad by even Care Bear movie standards, plus four other movies with titles ending with the words “The Movie,” including My Little Pony: The Movie (based on the pre-bronies version of the toy line), and Transformers the Movie (based on the pre-Michael Bay version of the toy line).
Setting aside the movies that were obviously merchandise driven, you find two obvious mouse-based nominees, and two more obscure possible nominees. An American Tail was an actual Oscar nominee, ”Somewhere Out There” nominated for Best Song, giving it the edge over Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective. I’m going to give the win to Don Bluth, making him two for two with mouse movies in this imaginary universe.
Battling for the final nominee spot are semi-cultish, stop-motion The Adventures of Mark Twain, and early Hayao Miyazaki Warriors of the Wind. Miyazaki would eventually win the award for real with Spirited Away, but Akira had yet to turn the West on to Japanese animation, so The Adventures of Mark Twain it is.
Winner: An American Tail
Nominees: The Adventures of Mark Twain, The Great Mouse Detective
Over half a decade would go by before a year with nine movies would come along; skipped would have been a showdown between the beginning of the Disney Renaissance (The Little Mermaid) and the beginning of anime becoming mainstream in America (Akira) in 1989 and the first animated movie in the Best Picture race (Beauty and the Beast).
The Annies had begun to award Best Animated Features themselves the previous year; this year, they gave the award to Aladdin, which also had a Best Score and Sound Oscar wins and further nominations for Best Song and Sound Effects Editing, so this one is a no-brainer as far as the winner is concerned.
The nominees aren’t so easy; possibilities include Annie nominees Bebe’s Kids FernGully: The Last Rainforest and Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, reigning champ Don Bluth’s Rock*A*Doodle and Ralph Bakshi’s (only partially animated, but last film by the director) Cool World. I’m taking two Annie picks; Little Nemo and FernGully.
Nominees: FernGully: The Last Rainforest, Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland
With eleven movies, 1993 became the first year with no gaps between the last competitive Best Animated Feature race. It is also the first year where there is a real race. The Annies aren’t much help; due to an odd qualifying year, no movie from 1993 won the Annie for Best Animated Feature.
The two movies in competition have gone down as classics of animation; one is Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro, and the other is Henry Selick’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. The lack of an Annie nomination for My Neighbor Totoro and the fact that The Nightmare Before Christmas is the only animated movie to be nominated for a Best Visual Effects Oscar (where it was absolutely curb-stomped by Jurassic Park) makes me think the Academy would have waited for Spirited Away to honor Miyazaki.
Though no movie from this year won the Annie, Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm and Once Upon a Forest were nominees. However, I would bet the Academy would have ignored both for the more high profile at the time We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story.
Winner: The Nightmare Before Christmas
Nominees: My Neighbor Totoro, We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story
Disney was at such a high point in the mid-nineties that the Academy had to separate the Best Score category into Dramatic and Musical/Comedy, despite the fact that a Musical Score award had never officially been taken off the books, so that Disney would stop dominating the category.
The Lion King had two Oscars out of four nominations from two categories, Score and Song, with three songs nominated. It also won the Annie and was the highest grossing animated movie at the time, and is still the highest grossing traditionally animated movie. So, I think it would have won.
The only other movie to gain an Annie nomination from 1994 was The Swan Princess, so it gets a nomination. Former back to back competitive champ Don Bluth had two movies out that year, Thumbelina and A Troll in Central Park, but I’m going to pass over both for The Pagemaster instead.
Winner: The Lion King
Nominees: The Pagemaster, The Swan Princess