Disney's Frozen is a Lock For the Animated Feature Oscar
Obviously, as the creator of Ghibli Blog, I'm rooting for Hayao Miyazaki to win a second Best Animated Oscar for his final directorial feature, The Wind Rises, at this Sunday's Academy Awards. But I think Disney's smash hit Frozen is a guaranteed lock on this year's Oscar. A few quick reasons why:
1) Everyone Gets One Oscar. It's an unspoken rule that the Motion Picture Academy will give you one award for your career, not just one film or performance. And, most often, one must suffer several nominations and "earn their dues" before winning. Hayao Miyazaki was already given his Oscar. In the eyes of Hollywood, he's in the club.
2) Voters Haven't Seen Miyazaki's Film. The Wind Rises only played briefly in New York and L.A. at the end of the year, in order to qualify for nominations. Last Friday, Disney released the film to an extremely limited 22 theaters; wider release is this Friday, February 28. That makes it unlikely that Academy voters even had an opportunity to see the picture.
3) Disney is Fighting For Frozen. A decade ago, Miyazaki won his Oscar for Spirited Away because Pixar's John Lasseter fought tooth and nail on his behalf. You need powerful players to carry your back in this game. This year, Disney/Pixar has their own nominated movie to support. Guess which movie that is.
4) Frozen Has Swept Awards Season. A good gauge for who will win on Oscar night is the collection of awards shows leading up to the March 2 broadcast - Golden Globes, BAFTA, the Annies, American Cinema Editors, the various Film Critics Associations. Disney has swept everything this year, making this an almost guaranteed lock.
5) Old Voters Fear Anime. The median age of Academy voters is 62. And male. And white. And what does the average senior citizen think of Japanese animation? They're scared of it. Scared to death. "Anime" is this strange, alien beast, a nightmare world of naked strippers, giant robots, gratuitous violence, and buckets of blood. Or, conversely, "anime" means cheaply-made, choppy cartoons like Astro Boy or Speed Racer. They're not "real cartoons."
6) It's Disney's Turn. Remember what I said about everyone getting one Oscar? Disney has yet to win the Best Animated Feature category; it's usually Pixar's award most years. But this year, Monsters U failed to even win a nomination, which clears the field. And, thanks to John Lasseter's oversight, Disney Animation Studios have dramatically improved their output. Wreck-It-Ralph was terrific, and the Planes franchise is a huge hit with kids. Frozen feels like a triumph for the studio, a return to form not seen since The Lion King.
Frozen is a good movie, very solid, very skillfully made. It is making crazy money at the box office, the songs are big hits on the pop charts, and we haven't seen a good Disney animated musical in 20 years. This movie deserves its success and deserves to win its Oscar. I don't see any reason for Ghibli Freaks to feel bummed. Unless we're going to talk about Isao Takahata getting snubbed...oy, vey!