Animation and the 2011 Academy Awards

It is a wee bit early, I know, and apparently that is something not lost on Steve Hullett over at the Animation Guild Blog either, as he notes how Dreamworks is already sending out the consideration mailers for How to Train Your Dragon.

The interesting thing is that DW is putting the film up in both the animation and best feature category, which is certainly an interesting development. It has been shown again and again that animation is not treated as seriously in Hollywood as it should be (hint: animation is a lot more profitable) but in recent times, in spite of the Academy’s addition of a ‘Best Animated Feature’ category, there have been some inroads made by the artform into more prestigious categories.

It all kicked off with Wall-E and it’s supposed deservedness of inclusion in the best feature category. That didn’t materialise (put it down to Wall-E being a robot), but surprisingly, that was not the end of the story. More than one eyebrow was raised last year when UP managed to bag one of the coveted best feature nomination slots. In the end it lost out to The Hurt Locker.

So it is perhaps not much of a surprise to hear that DW is waving the flag for Dragon. Personally, I think it is the best animated film released this year (thus far and from a Hollywood studio). Many will argue the case for Toy Story 3, but that is a sequel, if the first, two, superior films didn’t pass muster, I can’t see it doing so either.

I don’t think this means that we will see an animated films in the running for best feature every year. It is certainly safe to say that the best film released would not necessarily get the nod. Persepolis is a shining example of an animated film that is more than worthy of a best picture Oscar only for it to get the shaft.

Of course, it would be fantastic if we saw a few more animated features specifically aimed at adults rather than children. Walt Disney certainly felt (albeit with much anxiety) that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was good enough for adults.

If there was a serious market for adult animation, then there are plenty of reasons why we should see an animated film in the running for best feature. For now, let’s hope that How to Train Your Dragon makes a good show of it while it can.

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