×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Category sparks animated debate

Toon kudo not always a sure thing

In only its second year of existence, the category of animated feature is offering up one of the hottest Oscar races, with consideration ads in toon buff magazines and heavy PR activity already whipping up the waters.

Part of this could be 2002 being a rich and varied year for animated films. As opposed to 2001’s largely digital sweep, this year has seen a return to traditional animation with DreamWorks’ “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron”; Disney’s “Lilo & Stitch”; and Japan’s “Spirited Away,” dubbed and released by Disney in the U.S.; and Paramount’s “The Wild Thornberrys Movie,” among others.

On the pixilated side of the contenders’ pool are “Ice Age,” which finally put Fox Animation on the map after five wobbly years, and “Jonah: A Veggie-Tales Movie,” from FHE Pictures (Artisan). Meanwhile, Disney’s “Treasure Planet” is a mix between the two techniques, right down to the character of John Silver, who is animated in 2-D but with 3-D cyborg limbs.

No sure thing

Another reason for the early push could be that, unlike most other Oscar categories, the existence of the animated feature kudos is not automatic. The category must be recommended to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences board of governors by the shorts and animation branch.

Last year the rules mandated that a minimum of eight films had to be submitted before the category could be triggered. But after realizing that a studio could theoretically veto the category’s existence by choosing not to submit its films, the rules were changed.

Starting this year, the category is allowed to move forward simply through the release of eight or more animated films in qualifying theatrical runs. “The ‘threshold of eight’ is the minimum requirement,” says Jon Bloom, chair of the short films and animation branch, “but on top of that we’re charged with looking at the films that come out and evaluating the quality.”

Eight films can trigger three noms while a minimum of 16 qualified pictures could lead to the category’s first five-nominee slate, based on the judgment of the branch committee.

Weighing heavier than the subjective judgment of quality, however, is the question of what, exactly, constitutes an animated film. Sony has fought hard to include “Stuart Little 2” as a contender, to the howls of purists who feel that it is not an animated film, but a live action-special effects hybrid.

Open season

Still, the language of the official Academy rules, which define an animated feature film as one that contains “a significant number of the major characters animated, and in which animation figures in no less than 75% of the picture’s running time” leaves room for judgment and interpretation.

In a year when even such limited-release long shots as Bill Plympton’s ultra-indie “Mutant Aliens,” and the Japanese imports “Metropolis” and “Escaflowne” are out there vying for consideration, the contest promises to be, well, animated.

More Film

  • Bob Iger arrives at the Oscars,

    Bob Iger: 'Challenging Work of Uniting Our Businesses' Lies Ahead for Disney

    Bob Iger marked the historic occasion of Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox with a lengthy memo to staffers that was candid about the challenges of the massive integration of people and cultures that lies ahead for the media giant. “I wish I could tell you that the hardest part is behind us, that closing [...]

  • EMMA APPLETON as FEEF SYMONDS

    'Traitors' Producer 42 Hires Literary Manager Eugenie Furniss

    Eugenie Furniss is joining London- and Los Angeles-based management and production company 42 as literary manager, it was announced Wednesday. The company’s slate include movie “Ironbark,” a Cold War thriller starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and TV series “Traitors,” a spy thriller coming to Netflix in the U.S. at the end of the month. Furniss joins 42 [...]

  • Brad Pitt Leonardo DiCaprio Once Upon

    Quentin Tarantino's 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Trailer Drops

    The first look at “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is finally here, and Quentin Tarantino is taking audiences back to the height of hippie Hollywood. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, the footage features a montage of Tinseltown in the late 1960s. The duo play Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth, a washed-up actor and [...]

  • One-Cut-Of-The-Dead-Review

    Japanese Sleeper Hit ‘One Cut of the Dead’ Heads for English Remake (EXCLUSIVE)

    “One Cut of the Dead,” a micro-budget horror film that last year defied the odds to become one of the biggest hits of the year in Japan, is headed for an English-language remake. Patrick Cunningham, a Japan-based American producer whose credits include “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and “Starlet,” is behind the venture. The original film, [...]

  • Come as You Are review

    SXSW Film Review: 'Come as You Are'

    The rare remake that’s actually a slight improvement on its predecessor, Richard Wong’s “Come as You Are” translates Geoffrey Enthoven’s 2011 Belgian “Hasta la Vista” to middle America. Other changes are less substantial, but this seriocomedy has a less formulaic feel than the original while remaining a crowd-pleasing buddy pic-caper with a soft-pedaled minority empowerment [...]

  • Strange Negotiations review

    SXSW Film Review: 'Strange Negotiations'

    In a era when some mainstream entertainers have transitioned to targeting faith-based audiences, David Bazan is moving in the other direction. The gifted songwriter’s ersatz band Pedro the Lion was perhaps the most successful Christian indie rock act of its time, and the first to significantly cross over to secular fans. Then he ditched that persona (and [...]

  • Bluebird review

    SXSW Film Review: ‘Bluebird’

    As affectionate as a love letter but as substantial as an infomercial, Brian Loschiavo’s “Bluebird” may be of most interest to casual and/or newly converted country music fans who have occasionally wondered about the songwriters behind the songs. There’s a better than even-money chance that anyone who’s a loyal and longtime aficionado of the musical [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content