Should the Academy Eliminate the Best Animated Feature Film Category?

There seems to be a group of people that believe animated films aren’t “real” films, at least not in the same way as live-action films. As a result they don’t think animated films should be considered for Oscar’s Best Picture category. They often point to the Best Animated Feature category and say, “They have their own category, they don’t need to be included in Best Picture.”

Another group suggests the Best Animated Feature category be wiped out altogether and animated films would simply compete with all the other films for Best Picture. The argument here is that while back in 2001, when Shrek became the first animated film to win Best Animated Feature Film Oscar, there were hardly enough quality animated films to think we’d ever get to the point where they were regularly considered Best Picture caliber. To that point Beauty and the Beast was the only animated film to ever be nominated for Best Picture and while Pixar was raising the bar for animated films, I’m not sure anyone ever thought animated features would consistently be considered potential Best Picture nominees.

Another argument to get rid of the Best Animated Feature category is that with ten nomination slots there is now more than enough room for all films to be considered. Last year Pixar’s Up became only the second animated film to be nominated for Best Picture thanks in large part to the fact there were ten nominees. Would it have been a Best Picture nominee had there only been five nominees?

Based on RottenTomatoes ratings, Up was the best reviewed film in wide release in 2009, but that hasn’t always helped. In 2008 WALL•E held a 96% RottenTomatoes rating compared to Milk and Slumdog Millionaire‘s 94%, Frost/Nixon‘s 92% and The Reader‘s 61%. With only five nominees that year it wasn’t nominated… but neither was Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler, which had a better RT rating than the lot at 98% and don’t forget Man on Wire, the 100% rated documentary… Will a documentary ever be nominated for Best Picture? Perhaps not, after all, they do have their own category.

A year earlier Ratatouille and Persepolis both had some of the highest RottenTomatoes scores, both higher than No Country for Old Men‘s 95%. Neither was nominated for Best Picture. Then again, neither were the two highly rated documentaries Taxi to the Dark Side and the much loved Anvil! The Story of Anvil.

This year, other than several documentaries, Toy Story 3 (99%) and How to Train Your Dragon (98%) are the best reviewed films in wide release of the year according to RottenTomatoes. You can go right down the line below them and see all of the films currently being considered for Best Picture, including the front-runner, The Social Network (96%), followed by The Kids Are All Right (95%), The Town (94%), Winter’s Bone (94%), 127 Hours (93%) and The King’s Speech (93%). I would toss in box-office numbers for comparison, but I think we all know how that would play out.

What exactly is the difference between these films? Why do people think of animated films differently than live action? Animated films are considered the same in categories such as score, screenplay, director and cinematography. What makes the overall film any different?

So I ask you, do you think the Academy should consider eliminating the Animated Feature Film category? Would eliminating it cause for animated films to be considered in a higher regard? If you do that do you also have to look at the Best Feature Documentary category differently? What’s the difference between a documentary film, an animated film and a normal live-action picture when it comes down to evaluating the film on a whole?

Vote in the poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments. I am genuinely interested to read your thoughts on this.

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