Once again, for a second year in a row, it seems a major anime title has been denied an Oscar nomination. 2017 saw Your Name missing out on a nomination despite its international success. While The Red Turtle managed to get a nomination, some questions need to be raised when clearly Your Name was the most successful. The same has happened this year, instead with there being two critically acclaimed anime films denied a nomination.
For the Animation category this year, there were five anime films submitted; A Silent Voice, In This Corner Of The World, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, Napping Princess, and Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale. All of which are great films, and yet none received a nomination. If I’m honest, I can understand why some didn’t get nominated, but I truly feel A Silent Voice and In This Corner of The World have been snubbed.
Both of these films have mature plots, aiming to raise awareness of the content they feature. A Silent Voice tells the tale of a high school boy trying to make amends with a girl he bullied in elementary school due to her being deaf, while In This Corner of the World depicts the events of the Hiroshima bomb from the perspective of an average woman. Each plot is interesting in the sense that they are not only trying to bring awareness, but they are also telling the stories from an outsider perspective. It makes the main character more relatable, engaging the audience more directly. Although is animation the best way to show such a story as these? Most people would probably think a live-action adaptation would be better suited, albeit from watching too much anime I just feel there are more things you can do with animation to aid the storytelling.
Let’s remember animation is art. This allows for the filmmakers to do things that would either not make sense in a live action film or just wouldn’t look right. An example of this is via simply changing the art style, using different animation techniques can be used to enhance an emotional scene. Generally, in Western animation, this technique isn’t utilized often (minimally in The Boss Baby), although it is quite common in anime. In these films it is it masterfully executed, nailing the vital scenes. Considering the content, it makes the films uncomfortable to watch in places, but it is exactly how they need to be. This is what makes films Oscar worthy. Sure, you can be high and mighty about the plot but it is the animation is what makes the films great. In an animation category, shouldn’t this be the most important element?
In the past, the category has just been plagued with child orientated films. This year, there are notably two mature films (The Breadwinner, and Loving Vincent), but again they just seem to be two of the five most famous films. It’s as if in the eyes of the Oscars that the animation is not a means of telling a powerful story, instead films are nominated because they feel like they should. The category is infamously dominated by Disney, and I’d argue Studio Ghibli films starting to get regularly nominated is because Disney distributes their releases in the States. Further evidence of this is the fact that animated films do not commonly appear in other categories, these films weren’t even considered for the Foreign Film category. This is wrong. Genuinely, this annoys me from my own personal experience of when I saw A Silent Voice in the cinema. At the screening, there was an older man who was clearly deaf himself. I don’t know sign language but as I saw him talking to his friends after the film it was clear to see how he enjoyed the film and related to it. Yet despite this, the category is just written off and not taken seriously.
Unfortunately, it is too late to change the nominations for this year although we can only hope that if another critically acclaimed animated film is released that it is given the attention it deserves. It seems the animation category simply rewards films that had the largest advertising campaign, and not really on their own merit. At the end of the day, The Boss Baby may be nominated but at least The Emoji Movie wasn’t.