Friday, March 27, 2020

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Animated Feature 2018

The Contenders:

Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

What’s Missing

I’ve seen the five nominations for Best Animated Feature for 2018, and while I haven’t seen any outside of these nominations, I can guarantee that there’s room for improvement. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies would have been an interesting option. I forgot that Early Man was an actual thing, and based on the response, I’m probably the better for it, which is about the same with Smallfoot. The Grinch was evidently quite the disappointment as well, and I’m not touching Hotel Transylvania 3.

Weeding through the Nominees

5. I’m not going to pull punches here: I hated Mirai. I’m very much in the minority on that in the sense that the average review of the film is at least moderately positive. I disliked all of these characters, the plot, and most especially the message. Mirai purports itself to be a film about the joys of family, and it’s completely joyless. Everything that happens in this family involves tremendous amounts of whining and argument. I couldn’t wait to be away from them. I’d pick any of the movies mentioned above sight unseen over this.

4. I was tremendously disappointed with Ralph Breaks the Internet for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that it absolutely doesn’t come close to living up to the pure joy of the original film. Sure, there’s some effort to progress the characters, but only Ralph and Vanellope really matter to this film. It tries very hard to recapture the original magic, but falls short, even if there are some nice moments in it. And honestly, Ralph Wrecks the Internet wasn’t on the table for some reason?

3. I was disappointed in Incredibles 2 as well, but for different reasons. I knew I wouldn’t like this as much as I did the first film, since the first film is literally my favorite animated movie. But I’m disappointed in how many of the characters were used. It’s nice to see Helen as a featured character, but it’s so hackneyed to make Bob a hapless stay-at-home parent. Did we need an animated Mr. Mom? And did we need for Jack-Jack to be, well, a Jack-Jack of all trades, a little deus ex machina in diapers? Pixar should be better than this lazy.

2. One of these days, Wes Anderson needs to win an Oscar. He will someday, almost certainly for a screenplay, but I love that he stays true to his ethos in all things. Isle of Dogs was accused of some elements of racism, which I can see on the surface, but not once the film itself is really seen and experienced. Anderson is really all about his vision, and in a lot of ways, Isle of Dogs is the premier example of his visual style. In a lesser year, this is an easy win. One of these days, he’ll do something this good in a year where someone else doesn’t.

My Choice

1. There’s only one right choice for Best Animated Feature for 2018, and that’s the movie that won: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This is not just the best animated movie of its year; it’s potentially the best superhero movie not just of its year but of its decade. That says a lot about this movie in a decade that contained the vast majority of the MCU. The characters are great, the visual style is as close to an animated comic book as possible, and it’s smart an inventive. Admittedly, it might be a problem for people with epilepsy at the end, but everything else here is damn near perfect. It’s the right choice and always will be.

Final Analysis


  1. I've only seen 3 of the five films nominated and this is where I believe the Oscars not only got it right but they actually did something quite daring since Marvel doesn't get a lot of love from the Oscars.

    1. I was honestly surprised it was nominated, given Oscars dislike of Marvel in general. It's the only choice, though, and I'd be happy to argue for it to be nominated for Best Picture as well.

  2. "Incredibles 2"—definitely nowhere near the awesomeness of the first movie, and not worth the 14-year wait
    "Isle of Dogs"—deadpan and esoteric in that Wes Anderson-y way, but likeable
    "Mirai"—never saw this
    "Ralph Breaks the Internet"—likeable but unmemorable, and not nearly as cosmic/epic as the first one (which I'd compared to the Bhagavad Gita)
    "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse"—simply amazing (cough)

    Overall, I'd have to agree with your assessment, despite my never having seen "Mirai." I tend to find animé in general to be way overrated, so I can safely assume "Mirai" doesn't cut the mustard.

    1. Mirai really wants to trade on being in the style of Miyazaki, and while the art does have some resemblance, the story is ugly and hateful. You're safe having not seen it.

  3. There's a reason Marvel doesn't get a lot of love from the Oscars. The Oscars doesn't have a "Best pretty good summer popcorn movie" category. And that's the most that Marvel can aspire to. It just isn't enough to make better summer popcorn movies than DC. Marvel movies are invariably way too long for the story they are telling and full of dumb stuff, which is fine for a summer popcorn movie. But Oscar material?. The Academy frequently ends up giving out a lot of awards that look pretty silly a few years later. But giving Best Picture or Best Acting awards to movies like Black Panther and Infinity War would not change that.

    1. Well, we'll disagree on that. Many of the MCU films have been as good for their basic genre as any in that basic genre. I'm not going to play genre police for the Oscars--there's way too much of that already, which is part of the reason why, for instance, Alan Rickman was never nominated for his portrayal of Snape in any of the Harry Potter films.

      Sure, they're summer blockbusters, but there's depth to some of them, and heft.

  4. The only reason "Spider-Man" won is because the field of Best Animated Feature is so minuscule in comparison to Best Picture. That isn't to say that "Spider-Man" wasn't the Best Picture, because it was hands down of all the films that year. It should have been able to double-dip like "Parasite" did by winning both Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film.

    Personally, I think the category for Best Animated Feature is a joke because there is no competition compared to the amount of films competing for Best Picture. It's sort of like the Daytime Emmy awards when there are only four soaps currently on the air, so the winners are the best out of 4 compared to the hundreds and hundreds of shows competing for the Prime-time Emmy Awards that not only air on network TV, but also countless cable networks and streaming services.

    1. I don't know the solution to this, honestly. There does need to be some level of recognition for the form, I think, and there are plenty that are genuinely good enough for recognition that would never be recognized without a specialized category.

      Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse could easily have been nominated for Best Picture, though, and I'd absolutely support that nomination.