DreamWorks’ computer-animated “Shrek” capped a nearly yearlong commercial bonanza with a win in the inaugural Oscar race for best animated feature.
“Thank you, members of the academy for inviting us to the party by creating this animated category to begin with,” said “Shrek” producer Aron Warner. He also thanked DreamWorks exec Jeffrey Katzenberg for his “love of animation.”
The toon category, the first new one added by the Acad in 20 years, saw plenty of intrigue along the campaign trail.
Early on, it was unclear whether enough films would materialize to get the category off the ground. Paramount’s “Jimmy Neutron,” released in the final days of 2001, helped fill the void and became one of the three nominees.
Campaign strategies varied widely, with ads for “Shrek” touting the DreamWorks smash as a best picture nominee, a feat only “Beauty and the Beast” has ever managed. Voice talent was even positioned in the acting races, a progressive stance that may have drawn attention to the pic’s other aspects, such as its nominated screenplay.
Disney went the opposite way on “Monsters,” choosing not to stump for best picture and instead focus on the animation category.
The heaviest push for a film that didn’t make the final cut was for Fox Searchlight’s “Waking Life.” Although widely praised and a $2.8 million domestic grosser in limited release, the pic may have suffered among hardliners because it was initially shot on video and then animated on computers.
Like best picture nominee “The Lord of the Rings,” two of the three toonominees struggled to limit the names designated as the “key creative talent” connected to each pic. Among other honors, those picked would be the ones to take the stage at the Kodak Theatre if their pic came up a winner.
DreamWorks early on singled out Aron Warner for “Shrek.” At the prodding of AMPAS, Paramount designated producer Steve Oedekerk and John A. Davis, while the Mouse House tapped “Monsters” helmer Pete Docter and Pixar’s John Lasseter.