Friday, November 8, 2019

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Animated Movie 2017

The Contenders:

The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Coco (winner)
Loving Vincent

What’s Missing

It doesn’t happen often, but I haven’t seen anything in this category and year that wasn’t nominated. Truthfully, I should probably see The LEGO Batman Movie, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.

Weeding through the Nominees

5. While I don’t have anything I can suggest as a serious replacement for any of the nominees, I have a hard time believing that The Boss Baby was one of the five best animated movies from 2017. Sure, the voice work was good and there were a few good jokes, but a lot of this was predictable. The whole thing seems to stem from a joke about Alec Baldwin being the voice of the baby in question. It’s barely a good movie and certainly not the caliber I hope for with any Oscar category. What the hell is their bias against the various LEGO movies?

4. What I said about The Boss Baby I could say to a lesser extent and with a little less strength about Ferdinand. It’s a cute movie and I enjoy the voice work in it quite a bit—the cast is very good. But it’s also a movie that is very much for children, and anyone who has seen a movie or two is going to know exactly where this one is going to go. It’s well-made and entertaining, and I can’t imagine that there aren’t a lot of kids who would dislike it, but Best Animated Feature? I can’t see it.

3. I like it when Oscar picks movies far off the beaten path to give them some publicity. The Breadwinner is a movie like that. The problem is that I’ve seen it before in a very big way. In no uncertain terms, The Breadwinner is a very sanitized version of the much more depressing and not-appropriate-for-children Osama. I like that Oscar brings in movies like this even when they don’t have a chance of winning. For a small film like this, the nomination is legitimately the win, because it is suddenly in front of a much larger audience.

2. I desperately wanted to love Loving Vincent and found that I just couldn’t. It is one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen. Every frame of the film is literally a painting, created painstakingly by teams of artists over years. So much went into the look of the film (and it is staggering) that the filmmakers kind of forgot to have a lot happen. It’s as if they expected the audience to be so enthralled by the visuals that they would overlook the essential lack of story. It’s absolutely worth seeing, but it’s not a huge amount different with the sound off.

My Choice

1. Coco is the only choice by a country mile. Pixar has made a few missteps in recent years, and while their reputation is no longer perfect, it’s still damn good and generally deserved. Coco is smart enough to give us a story that is very much rooted in its culture but transcends its culture in the best possible ways. In a world where we are told that representation matters (and it does), it’s important to remember that the quality of that representation matters as well. Coco is that in the very best of ways. It was the right choice.

Final Analysis


  1. It pisses me off that The Boss Baby got nominated and not The LEGO Batman Movie. At least the Oscars got it right with Coco as that was a way better film than I expected it to be as that was devastating to watch in a great way.

    1. I felt the same way about Coco. I had heard good about it, but wasn't quite sure what to believe--I'd heard the same about films like Zootopia and how important its message was only to find it's message to be very misdirected except on a very basic level.

      But Coco is damn good, and I'm happy it won.

  2. I am a big Batman fan and I avoided The Batman LEGO Movie because Batman movies don't really work for me, even though I see most of them in the theater. (My favorite is still Batman: The Movie from the 1960s. The Dark Knight is WAY OVER-RATED!)

    But when I finally did see The LEGO Batman Movie earlier this year, I was very pleasantly surprised. It did a great job of skewering all the dreary, tiresome Batman tropes that have made the character predictable and barely human over the last few decades, especially in the movies.

    1. I'm of the rare opinion that Batman Begins is the best of that trilogy.

      I really should watch LEGO Batman.

  3. I really ought to bump Coco up the queue. Avoided it due to apprehension that the movie is a diversity marketing gimmick. Happy to hear it transends the representation matters aspect.

    1. It's very good. Perhaps a bit predictable in places, but the story is good, and the resolution is very good. It's smart in the sense that it's a relatable story, but is also very firmly grounded in its culture.

  4. You really should watch LEGO Batman. The beginning is a little chaotic and hard to follow visually, but once it settles down it's legitimately great and tells a wonderful story. It should be number two on this list behind Coco.

    1. That's not only a solid endorsement, but a vote for me having picked right on this despite not having seen LEGO Batman.