Reader and Ghibli Freak Tim Maughan wrote an interesting comment that got me thinking today. I posted a couple replies in the comments section, but decided I should also throw it up on the main page.
Here's what Tim wrote:
"I have to say - with the exception of last year's Wall-E - I'm not much of a Pixar fan. Their stuff looks too plastic for me, and over-animated. Plus I was hoping Ponyo might get a look in for the Oscar next year, but no - I'm sure this will grab it for Pixar. Ah well."
This got me thinking about the Oscars and their Animation categories, and here are my thoughts on the matter, with a couple of edits and additions:
Yes, it's probably a foregone conclusion that Pixar will grab yet another Oscar for Up. The sorry ghetto of the "animation" category all but precludes it. Of course, if there was actually some worthwhile competition, maybe things would change.
I do expect Ponyo to be nominated, but given the usual politics of the Oscar Academy, Miyazaki has already been given his Oscar in honor of his prestigous career. His name is famous enough for his movies to be nominated, while great movies such as Persepolis, Paprika, Tekkon Kinkreet, Innocence and Mind Game were ignored.
The Best Animated Film category is a ghetto largely because of the Academy's prejudices. They've got better things to do with their time than watch a bunch of silly kiddie cartoons, especially those weird ones where all the people talk funny. Just give the damn statue to Pixar and be done with it.
Mind you, my criticism is with the Motion Picture Academy, not any of the nominees. It's the Academy that follows the same tired, predictable formulas, the same hackneyed "dramas" for the major Oscars, year in, year out. There are many great movies that have been shuffled off into ghettos - animation, documentaries, and foreiegn movies. I think all of these are worthy of the top honors.
My favorite movie of 2008 was Werner Hertzog's Encounters at the End of the World. I think some of this decade's best movies have been documentaries, and if you're lucky enough to live in a large enough city, you were able to see many of them in your local theater. All I can say is, thank goodness for DVD and Netflix.
As for animation, we already have seen Piece, Sita Sings the Blues, Bashir's Waltz, and Coraline. What are the odds those films will see nominations? Fat chance. The slots are already reserved for "Pixar Movie," "Disney Movie," and "Dreamworks Movie." There ain't no room left. Sorry. The Best Animation Short category might fare better, but it's a woefully overlooked and underappreciated category. If any class of movies deserved to thrive in the age of YouTube and iTunes, it's short films.
Oh, and just for the record, my favorite movie of the 2000's is....envelope, please...
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Discuss! Tawk amongst yourselves!