Tuesday, January 24, 2012

First Tired Thoughts on Oscar Nominations

I just got woken up by my film loving family for Oscar nominations, and while it's hard to be very eloquent before a cup of tea (who am I kidding? I'm going back to bed after this. I was up late reading.), I do have some thoughts to share.

Best Animated Feature
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots

While this does not match up with what I predicted back in November, nothing about it was so shocking that I jumped from my bed. 
The only thing that honestly made me raise an eyebrow was The Adventurees of Tintin not receiving a nomination. The Golden Globes are usually great at predicting the Oscars, but this year an animated film won there and didn't even get noticed here. If you ask me, this is a good thing. I'm aware my opinion means next to nothing because I have yet to see the film, but with the mixed reviews I was shocked at how it beat Rango. I continue to be torn about critical consensus, of course, and if you think Tintin has suffered a horrific tragedy feel free to sound off in the comments. 
Winnie the Pooh not being nominated - despite critical consensus - upset me more than Pixar not getting in the race. I'm sure the older Academy members loved it, and the younger ones may have, but it looks like "animation is for kids" stigma hasn't quite lifted enough for even a universally loved film about talking stuffed animals to be seen as more than that.
Of course, what I was woken up over was that for the first time since the start of the best animated feature race, Pixar - ironic for having a film partially about race cars - did not snag a nominated for the film they created last year. Cars 2 has been left out in the cold completely, and while a little part of me that adores the film frowns, I understand why and don't feel an ounce of stigma or injustice. I guess I could get into a rant about how the Academy doesn't know how to loosen up and have fun, but I think I'd be slipping from calling out stigma to entirely missing the point of the ceremony if I did. 
Many people are going to see this as a failure for Pixar, but I ask readers to look at the bigger picture. Pixar wanted to make a fun film in 2011; John Lasseter has been quoted saying that they just wanted to have some fun and do something a bit silly. That kind of film is exactly what Pixar made in my eyes and, while it won't receive a billion trophies to add to the collection (where do they put all of them?), Pixar made a film that put a lot of smiles on the faces of a lot of families no matter how the critics felt. 
In fact, this offers us a unique opportunity. Pixar is not in the race, readers. Pixar is not in the race. Let that sink in. The studio that always wins the Oscar isn't even involved this year. Now, think about other animation studios like Dreamworks, who have been constantly improving to an Oscar-worthy level for a debatable but noticeable length of time and now have two nominated films with Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss In Boots. Think about Nickelodeon Studios. Nickelodeon Studios, of all studios! Suddenly in 2011 they began releasing films like Rango - being very quiet about their label until you were already in your seat - that received critical acclaim and were some of the only non-adapted films made in the United States this year. This year, those studios get to duke it out, and it didn't take Pixar getting shafted unjustly for it to happen.
I'm looking forward to this year's race in a way I haven't before, because I'm not even sure who will win BAF for a change. But hey, I have to try and make a prediction here.
I think I'm sticking with my earlier guess and saying that Rango will win Best Animated Feature. If it doesn't, I think Kung Fu Panda 2 has a chance of beating it.
P.S. The real tragedy this year is that animation stuck to the BAF category. I at least feel that Rango deserved a nod for original screenplay.