Friday, October 3, 2014

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Animated Feature 2003

The Contenders:
Brother Bear
Finding Nemo (winner)
The Triplets of Belleville

What’s Missing

There are times when I think the three nominations for most of the Animated Feature categories aren’t nearly enough. Then there are years like 2003 where it really feels like the Academy was stretching to get to three. Of missed films here, the only one I can really suggest is Tokyo Godfathers, and that is entirely by reputation. Unless you’re a big fan of Nickelodeon movies, 2003 was pretty dismal in animation.

Weeding through the Nominees

3: When I said it felt like the Academy was struggling to find three nominations here, I was thinking specifically of Brother Bear. This film is pretty harmless, but it’s also not very good. I like that once the big transformation from human to bear takes place the animation style changes, as does the aspect ratio. And that’s pretty much what I liked. This is maudlin and sappy, and seems to believe that anything up to and including the death of a parent can be solved and made better with a sappy montage featuring Phil Collins. In any year with a couple of good nominees, Brother Bear doesn’t get close enough to the ballot to sniff it.

2: I genuinely liked The Triplets of Belleville, but I think it’s simply too odd, too strange, too visually eccentric and difficult for families to have actually had a shot at winning. In a perfect world, it would win maybe 30% of the time. Sadly, it seems that the members of the Academy who vote more or less decide that this category should be won specifically by a film that appeals to families and children, and that’s definitely not The Triplets of Belleville. I like it though, and would have loved to have seen it win. That said, I still don’t think it deserves to be on top.

My Choice

1: No, the Academy did right by handing the statue to Finding Nemo. I’m not sure I would have said this two or three years ago when I would have pushed hard for The Triplets of Belleville, but now, a little older and wiser, I see the wisdom of this choice and the real story behind the story in the film. I like this movie a lot more now than I did 10 years ago when I first saw it, and that says something about the story it tells and the characters it includes. Finding Nemo holds up, and it deserved to win.

Final Analysis


  1. The only one I've seen here is actually Finding Nemo.... and Tokyo Godfathers. I've heard good things about Triplets, but Godfathers deserved a placement above Brother Bear. Of all mentioned films, I like Tokyo Godfathers the most, but it's not exactly a family friendly film. Nemo has the widest appeal, so I can back its win.

    1. As it turns out, this was kind of a lame year, at least in animated films.

  2. I agree this was a bad year for animated films. I haven't seen Brother Bear because it held zero interest for me. I did a search on IMDB and The Animatrix was listed as a 2003 animated feature film, although I don't think it was released in any theaters before first appearing on DVD, so that would have disqualified it from Oscar consideration.

    Picking between Finding Nemo and The Triplets of Belleville is a tough one for me. I completely agree with you that Triplets is not the kind of animated film the Academy gives awards to and that Finding Nemo presses all the buttons they like.

    It's almost impossible for me to compare the two; other than being animated they have nothing in common. I remember years ago when I was in a music club they had a laughably mixed "Black Music" section where they lumped together Michael Jackson, Public Enemy, Miles Davis, Kool and the Gang, and B.B. King. Lumping together Finding Nemo and The Triplets of Belleville just because they are animated is like that music situation for me.

    1. In a very real sense, the Academy needs to figure out that "animated" isn't a genre, but a style. It's like NetFlix, which lists everything that isn't in English in the category of "foreign," so you get films like Audition and Amelie and Solyaris in the same category. It's infuriating.

      I didn't inlcude The Animatrix above for the reason you mentioned. I don't think it would have been eligible.