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.

Should the Academy Get Rid of the Best Animated Feature Film Category?

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  • Winchester

    Personally I voted 'No', don't eliminate it.

    Why? Because animated features will never start to swamp the Best Picture List (even with ten) if it was removed no matter how good they are. It won't increase the chances of one taking Best Picture, it will decrease them. The arguments about artistic merit, meaning, critical reception and public reception - all that kinda stuff is very nice, but practically it just means that fewer animated films would get any sort of recognition in this manner if they didn't have their own category. Plus it's a whole different kind of creativity and endeavour to produce animation than live action and I think it should have it's own moment and it's own group.

    By similar logic why is there a Best Foreign category? Why not eliminate it as well? There's many foreign language films that are in many ways better films than the US offerings but get scant recognition for being so and if one of them is that good to make the Foreign Language shortlist then why not put it in the main category as well?

    Because otherwise, there would be no way to highlight them and the same would happen with animation. Having these grouped categories is one way to try (at least) to bring attention to these specific types of films and to give them their own little spotlight. Take that away, and all that will happen is they will disappear amidst all the other behemoths vying for the win, probably apart from one that might break out every few years or be 'made' to break out by the Academy to show they have some sort of 'balance'.

    That's just how I see it.

    • Brad Brevet

      The foreign language category I understand because the Oscars are based on films released in the U.S. in a certain calendar year and there are specific rules for that category. Although, those rules need a once over as well.

      • Marcos Celesia

        The Oscars are supposed to celebrate quality in the film industry. That's why they include Foreign Films, Shorts and Documentaries.
        Now, a point of comparison with the BEST ANIMATED FILM category.
        Take the case of a film that is nominated as Best Foreign Language Film, like The White Ribbom last year. It was also released commercially in the US. So it qualified to be nominated in all categories, EXCEPT Best Picture. So why should Animated Films be able to receive nominations in two different Best PICTURE categories, when Foreign Films cannot?

      • Rich

        Hate to burst anyone's bubbles, but Foreign Language Films ARE eligible for Best Picture, and several have been nominated in the past - "Il Postino" in 1995, "Life is Beautiful" in 1998 (which was also considered a front runner for Best Picture that year), even going back to Ingmar Bergman's "Cries and Whispers" in 1973 and the French film "Z" in 1969.

  • Harry

    No, because animated movies usually have lower standards when reviewed compared to traditional live-action movies.

    • SeanA


      Its a different set of criteria being reviewed and considered for animated films.
      Can voice acting be compared with acting? Can digital artwork and animation be compared with set design? etc.

      Are animated films being reviewed in comparison to live action films or other animated films?

      Having said that, if they were all lumped into the same category I'm sure reviewers would look at animated films differently.

  • maja

    It's a tough question to answer...personally I voted no. The problem is where to draw the line. Foreign films have their own category but they aren't even eligible for Best Picture...why? Documentaries have their own category but has there ever been a documentary nominated for best picture? Not that i know of. And that's not because there haven't been documentaries good enough to be nominated...So I think the problem lies in where to draw the line.

    The main problem with animated features is it is difficult to compare them like-with-like with non-animated films, they are judged on different criteria and animation is a completely different ballgame.

  • Joe

    I voted No as well. I think that the Best Animated Feature category great, it gives recognition to films that normally wouldn't get any. Although I think that an animated movie won't win best picture while there is a Best Animated Feature. Voters think that since they voted for Up for Best Animated Feature they shouldn't vote for Up for Best Picture. I also don't think Up would have been nominated last year if there were only 5 slots for Best Picture. It's a shame because I feel that Toy Story 3 is one of the best movies this year. Also a couple of years ago i felt Wall-E was the best movie of the year. Plus it receive Six nominations which was more than what Frost/Nixon and The Reader got.

  • Jimmy Diamies

    I voted yes, only because I believe that animated films should be more strongly considered for best picture. I would, however, go back and vote no because making an animated film is a different artistic process and there should be a separate category awarding them for their achievements.

  • Artorious

    I forgot who said it but he said, "Animation isn't a genre, it's a medium." This is true and we should get rid of the category. I mean, we don't have best feature shot with a digital camera or best 3D picture. This is just a reason most voters use to not vote for an animated movie. No, there wouldn't be an influx of animated films, but they would have more of a shot, especially Pixar.

  • Kash

    I think animations should have their own category as it gives them a chance to compete with other animation films (ie films in the same medium) and with the nominations increased to 10, it gives them a chance to compete with other pictures as well.

    But seriously you cant put documentaries in the same category.. films are considered art while docs are considered journalism ( on a basic level) the process is different..

  • Leandro Dubost

    With 10 slots for Best Film, I'd say 'Yes, get rid of them'.

    I mean, look what happened last year, "Up" was the only nominated animation for Best Picture and it won Best Animated Feature. Same thing will probably happen this year, "Toy Story 3" being nominated for Best Picture and winning for Best Animated.

    This trend is boring.
    Either make Animation inelegible for Best Picture (which is VERY stupid), or get rid of Best Animated.

    I think "Toy Story 3" (and whatever Pixar has done in the last five years) is Best Picture worthy, but nominating it twice for "best oscar" (animated and overall) makes the Best Animated really predictable. So why bother? It makes the category useless.

  • Leandro Dubost

    I also think that a Best Animated Feature category decreases the chances of an animation winning Best Picture.

    Voters probably could think: "Oh, I love 'Toy Story 3', it deserves Best Animation!! But yeah, that is enough, I should give Best Picture to another movie since 'Toy Story 3' already got its one!"

  • Winchester

    I think the conversation has to move a little bit past Toy Story 3 (unless people want the category dismissed solely so it could have - in theory - been nominated and win BP) and consider the many, many years where there is no Toy Story 3 type film in genuine BP contention.

    • Winchester

      That said, if it was my choice I would also restrict the BP list back to 5 films since the expansion to ten was nothing but an attempt at a ratings grab by including more populist choices that just creates a two tier BP list.

      The real candidates and the 'nly there for the viewers at home' candidates.

      • AJ

        I'm of two minds about that... I don't disagree with anything you said, but I also think that the expanded category allows the Academy to overcome some of their bias and recognize films that should get some notice.

        There are usually precious few films that are truly the total package each year, as a result there always seem to be at least one or two nominees (even out of just five) that are perhaps notable films but lacking in some way. The academy's natural bias is to lean towards the "important" films... ones with a message or timely subject. But quite often, these runner-up films fall well behind the film-making skill displayed by the top crowd-pleasers. Someone above said that animated films aren't held to the same high standards as other films, but I'd counter that a lot of "Oscar bait" doesn't have to be an across-the-board success to earn praise either... critics love to champion small, independent efforts, and rightly so. In the process though, they forgive faults that they would hold against larger films.

        Since the Academy doesn't divide up categories into comedy and drama like the Golden Globes, I don't mind the nomination process to serve as a way to recognition for the more populist flicks, which when said and done might be better made films with less important goals.

  • Roger

    I find if they are nominated in Best Animated Feature, they should not be nominated in Best Picture as well, and vice versa.

    Come on now. We all know, no matter what Pixar throws out there, no animated movie will win both categories. So why even bother having a film nominated in both. Either stick with Animated Features, or let them all duke it out in the ring for Best Picture.

  • kerryjoo

    the animated feature category is meant for the animated films that are good but not great
    like Flushed Away, Shrek, Bolt,etc

    animation from pixar to the very best of disney (The Princess and the Frog, Tangled, Beauty and the Beast) and dreamworks (How to Train Your Dragon) all upped the ante and deservingly should try for the best picture. The problem is, it seems animation category was created out of a tone of pity.

    Either reduce the 10 nominees back to 5, or perhaps there should be a rule where only animation could contend in one category (as oppsed to being in both best picture and best animateD), because it seems a lot of voters do not like the idea that an animation could win two awards for best film (Greed is Good?). But honestly, until the golden age genertation of academy voters is taken over by the younger generation of the late 70s/early 80s, animation is not going to win the best picture (unless of course something so amazing is released and changes the history of cinema forever, but this seems unlikely).

    Maybe a animated film that opts to only run for best picture and gets nominated is somewhat the equivalent of being the best animated feature already

  • Mason Williamson

    Here's what gets me, and this is the reason I voted 'yes'.

    I understand that live-action films and animated films are made using different artistic processes, and that argument is all fine and well. But I get a little mixed up here: the category is "Best Animated Feature Film". For documentary films, it's "Best Feature Documentary". However, "Best Picture" is simply... well, best picture. That title proclaims that the winner is THE best film of the year, of any sort. Now, if they entitled that category "Best Live-Action Picture", it would make sense. However, with its current title, it should account for all types of films, animated included.

    • AJ

      Well put.

    • Sknygrydg07

      Not to belittle the process - but I keep thinking about crazy dog shows, where they have all the 'Best in Breed' categories, and then one dog is sad enough to win 'Best in Show' (great flick BTW). Maybe the Oscars could be more like that?

  • Jonathan

    I think the category should remain in place, but the Best Picture category should be reduced back to 5. If an animated film is good enough, it should be able to receive a Best Picture nomination. 10 films is way too many. A nomination doesn't mean what it used to.

    Since the Best Foreign Language Film nominations are so limiting, I think that foreign language films should be eligible for Best Picture if they are released in the US during the calendar year. This isn't the AFI after all, why limit it to English language films? (I don't think Babel counts does it?) You could disqualify a foreign film from the Best Picture race if it won or was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in the prior year. So many of my favorite films every year are foreign language films.

    The reason neither of these types of films (animated and foreign) receive nominations for Best Picture is because of the limited viewing of the academy members. That's why the critics lists are always so much better than the Academy nominations. Critics see so many more films. But even if everyone sees the newest amazing Pixar film, I believe the largest voting group is actors, and it's typically thought that they will always vote in favor of live action, possibly for job security, as silly as that might seem. That's why they should keep the animated category, so those amazing Pixar films can keep taking home hardware, 'cause they deserve it.

  • Kevin Blumeyer

    It's hard to look at a Rotten Tomatoes score alone when determining the "best reviewed movie" of the year.

    There are plenty of films (say, like Unstoppable) that get a lot of 3 Star reviews, but are perhaps less polarizing than an Inception or Black Swan. Whereas those more polarizing films get 2 Star reviews from the critics who are turned off by the film or just don't "get" it. The positive (4 star) reviews are probably more positive than the ones for Unstoppable, but it still counts all the same on RT.

    Sorry, I don't have much more to add to the argument. That just kind of struck me as something worth mentioning.

    Oscars are always going to prefer an American produced live-action narrative film, and most likely a drama at that.. That's why there are separate categories for foreign language, documentary and animation. They don't have a chance of beating a more traditional Oscar-type movie.

    The one thing I would change is drop the word "language" from the foreign category. There are plenty of great films made in Australia, The UK, etc. that feature English as its main language but are still considered amongst the American films when in reality, movies like Animal Kingdom or An Education don't have a shot at beating their American counterparts. I know Slumdog Millionaire is a recent exception, but I believe the word is "ethnocentrism."

    In short, it should be "best foreign film" instead of "best foreign language film."

  • Martin

    They should go back to 5 best pictures nominees. Than we don't have this problem. Now almost every film can get a best picture nomination, thats boring. in former times a best picture nomination was something very special, but now almost every film can get one.

    • KP

      I agree. With 10 the quality of the films is ridiculously diluted. Though I still think they should abandon the Animated category for the reasons I just wrote below.

  • forgetMEnot

    I don't like the rules of the Foreign Motion Picture category. I think it's unfair that a country can enter a SINGLE film for consideration. I remember in 2007, when France entered Persepolis for that category instead The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, both great films but Diving Bell being the better film. I think a country should enter 3 films and the Academy should choose only one film for consideration.

  • AJ

    No, keep the Best Animated Film category and allow animated films to compete for Best (overall) Picture as well. Animation is such an unique artistic process that it deserves to be recognized with a separate award, but that doesn't preclude the winner from also being the best film of any kind released in a given year.

    Admittedly, they won't often compete, and a win may never happen, but you're never going to overcome all bias against certain material anyway. At the end of the day, these awards are just popular opinion from within the industry. The only thing that would be truly unfair would be not allowing the films to be considered to begin with.

  • destiny

    Tough question but I'd say NO. The category for best animated feature should be retained so an animated film can be judged in regards to other animated films. Now if an animated film is really, really good (I know this is quite vague but there's no well laid criteria) then there shouldn't be any issues to consider the film also for best picture... same goes with other genres, like a documentary film. If it's really good, then again it should be considered for best picture and not disregarded just because it already has its own category.

  • Justin

    The problem is that most animated movies are family/kids films. When was the last time a live action "family movie" in the same vein as a Pixar movie was nominated for Best Picture, let alone win? Maybe Forrest Gump?

    • AJ

      Babe was nominated back in 1995... That's probably the best example of a live action family film in recent decades. However, back when musicals were common it wasn't at all unusual for a family friendly production to earn a best picture nod.

      • Jezza

        Some might say say that the Lord of the Rings trilogy were family films in the sense that LOTR was responsible for film adaptations of the Chronicles of Narnia franchise and The Golden Compass.

      • Jez

        Babe wasn't the best example of a recent live action family film nominated for BP, a lot of people would say the Lord of the Rings trilogy were the best examples of recent live action family films nominated for BP.

        LOTR as many people rightly pointed out started a whole wave of family fantasy films including Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia and Golden Compass.

  • Justin

    Simply put..YES

  • Will

    Yes, get rid of it. If they continue keeping it, then lest be fair and pigeonhole the big prize as well: Best Live Action Picture

  • Cody

    I think that the Best Picture category should include all American films that tell a story in the form of a narative.

    • Stiggy

      You mean to say that British films should get eliminated instantly?

  • m1

    Oh, please, this is like asking whether the foreign language film category should be eliminated because Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was also nominated for Best Picture.

    • Brad Brevet

      Actually, it's nothing like that.

      • m1

        How so? If the animated film category should be eliminated if BP has 10 nominees, then shouldn't foreign language film and documentary? How about the short film categories? Hm?

      • Feedback

        I agree with m1. The only reason people are even considering getting rid of the Animated Movie award is because Toy Story is nominated.

        When Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was nominated, no one considered getting rid of Best Foreign Language film.

        The only difference in situations is that more people would be inclined to get rid of Animated because it seems that its a lock to at least have 1 Best Picture nomination every year.

        However, if Foreign Language films like Iwo Jima and HIdden Dragon are eligible, I think there should be much more Foreign Language films nominated as well. El Secreto de sus Ojos, A Prophet, Let the Right One In, Tetro and The White Ribbon should have all been nominated.

      • Winchester

        I think this is part of the impetus for the discussion.

        People are trying to get Toy Story 3 a BP win and so there's a discussion about changing the rules to make it more likely to happen.

        If Toy Story 3 was around, this discussion probably would not be happening.

  • KP

    Yes. Half the movies Pixar has put out should have been serious Best Picture contenders.

    As long as they have the "consolation prize" of winning Best Animated, they'll face almost insurmountable odds at winning the big prize, and correspondingly, Best Director, Best Screenplay, etc.

    The movies are about the entire experience, and animated films have offered some of the most terrific storytelling of the past fifteen years.

  • Matthew Belson

    No, don't eliminate Best Animated Feature. In fact, why not reduce Best Picture nominations to 5, but split it up like the Golden Globes into Best Picture - Drama, and Best Picture - Musical/Comedy? Or maybe in a few short years we'll need separate Best Pictures for 3D and 2D. (There used to be separate Cinematography awards for color and b&w.) Yeah, more categories, that award show is too short!

  • Ismal Ishak

    Don't eliminate it however, do a change on the technicality of the Best Picture nomination. The thing about nominations in any Hollywood awards show is that the nominations are revealed earlier. How about the 10 nominees of Best Picture are announced only at the night of the award show... after Best Animated Feature has been announced? Therefore, 'That animated film is in the TOP 10, how come it would not win best animated feature?' will not happen.

    well.. just a suggestion~ :)

  • buddy

    Yes, because some animated films have waaay better quality than live action films and it could affect the audience so greatly (ex: Wall E, Up, and Toy Story 3). Even if it's in different medium, it's still a film. I understand that documentary and foreign film has their own category since it will be a whole lot movie to watch if to watch if they mashed it together. But it's kind of absurd to proclaim Best Picture as "THE" best film of the year when the animated category triumph that films from critics and box office.

    Regards from Indonesia

  • Kristen

    As far as I am concerned, there shouldn't be a problem with Animated Features being nominated in both categories. The truth is, animated films can be every bit as good as live action ones (and documentaries), but they will not get recognized in certain categories based on their form. No actor or actress is ever going to be nominated for their performance in an animated picture, so why not allow the movie as a whole to be honored in two categories? Allow the people that truly work hard on these animated films to walk away proud of their work at the end of the day. Due to their not being considered for any of the acting awards, I think that the Best Animated Oscar should stay, or at the very least, be changed to a Best Animated Oscar Cast award... now wouldn't that be something... acknowledging that voice over work is indeed a variety of acting worth celebrating... Novel idea.

  • Marc Honore

    Should the Academy eliminate the Best Animated Feature Film category? I am going to be honest about this. Therefore, my answer is HELL NO. Do I even need to give a reason? I guess I have to so where do I begin. Well, the rules say that any feature film is eligible to be a nominee for Best Picture. In other words, it is fair for Animated, Documentary, and Foreign Language Films can be nominees. Even before the Best Animated Feature Film became a category there has been only one film nominated for Best Picture and that was Beauty and the Beast back in 1992. In addition, to eliminate the Best Animated Feature Film category is just as easy as saying just take out the Foreign Language. However, those films may be live action they are still in a different language and they cap the number of nominations for Best Picture. If you look at Life Is Beautiful 1998 and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2001and I could go on but I will stop there. Then again, In 1996 Babe was nominated for Best Picture oh yea sandwich. Now I may sound contradicting for a moment but I have a good reason to be. When I found out that UP was a Best Picture nominee. I will admit I hated the idea of it because I did not think it was time for another animated film was ready to be a contender in the Best Picture category. So to say, Toy Story 3 shouldn’t be nominated for Best Picture is saying that no movie has a chance. I believe that all films deserve a chance to be recognized by the academy, critics, and fans alike.

  • Sonal

    Animated features are just as much films as a live action movie which also incorporates CG into their stories. It's just that no one really considers them as real movies and therefore they have to have their own category. But having their own category allows certain films like The Secret of Kells to gain recognition besides the usual Pixar and DreamWorks fare. For the little guys, it's important.

    Also, I don't think Shrek won the first ever Oscar for animated film. I believe it was Miyazaki's Spirited Away.

    • Stiggy

      It was definetly the first Shrek that won the first ever Oscar for animated film. It beat out Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genious and Monsters Inc. Spirited Away won the following year (Ice Age was robbed!).

  • randy

    animation is a category of its own. Competing against other movies and eliminating it wouldnt be a smart move. putting the animated movies in categories like drama and such just wouldnt be right .

  • Bradley Badder

    I completely agree with the last part of Jimmy Diamies comment.

  • Noooooo

    No, Don't get rid of the Best Animated Film catagory, it's a totally different technical acheivement... and then what you have to get rid of the best foreign catagory too because at that point a film is a film and should not be separated period. This is why I don't think that Toy Story 3 should be nominated for Best Picture outside of Animation..

  • Chris

    The problem with eliminating the category entirely, is it reduces the possibility of "lesser" animated films gaining any sort of academy recognition. Obviously, there are animated films that do deserve to be considered among live action films when it comes to best picture. However, there are still those that stand no chance of being selected for best picture.

    If Toy Story 3 has what it takes to be in the Best Picture category, then there should be no campaign for Best Animated feature. Otherwise, it just aims to legitimize what many already think about the animated feature category, that it is good enough for animated films, and they don't belong among live action best picture contenders. You can't aim for the stars and be willing to accept the consolation prize.