1 February 2018

Let's talk about the Oscar nominations

Yeah, it's that time of the year again. Oscar nominations time always gets people up in a jiffy. So let's get back to this blog and give my two cents.
Also, there's also a bit of misinformation going around (including coming from some famous anitubers), so let me try to set a few things straight while stating my own opinion.

#1: Your Name could NEVER get an Oscar nomination this year!

NO, I am NOT dissing the movie. Your Name is a good movie. But it got submitted for the Oscar nominations LAST YEAR. And if you know a little bit of award shows (of any kind): You can only submit a movie ONE TIME ONLY!. And since the studio behind Your Name did that last year (see my previous Oscars blog post for more on that).

It's as simple as that: It was already submitted last year, so it cannot get submitted again.

Would it have been better if the studio/distributor had waited until 2017 for submission? Yes, defintely! They got way better word-of-mouth this year, made several headlines and so on. They might have had an actual fighting chance for that nomination.
But as they say: Hindsight is 20/20.

#2: There is NOT a bias against anime in America, there's a bias against animation

The majority of the academy voters historically don't like the Animated Feature category at all (like EVERY movie in this category). Don't forget: this category is one of the few that has its own set of submissions, compared to the other categories. This means the voters need to watch more movies. Dozens of more movies that they probably did not watch while they were in theater.

It's a public secret that many of the "old gray voters" hardly watch ANY off the nominees (let alone every submission) and just vote for whatever their (grand)kids talked about the past year or whatever was the hottest take in the movie festival circuit. And unlike the Short movie or International movie categories where there isn't a word-of-mouth or "hot take", this is one category where they CAN skip most movies on their to-watch list.

And recently it's only gotten worse now that not only "animation veterans" can vote for the nominees, but EVERY academy award voter has a say. In other words, less good quality movies and more mediocre movies like Boss Baby & Ferdinand.

No, this is not fair. But until the Academy finally cleans house in their voting public this practice is not going to change. And on the other end, there are a lot of (internet) critics that feel the same frustration and want to get in to make the awards more fair, but seem to hit the wall of "you need to know the right people".
Youtube movie critic Chris Stuckmann is known to be one such person and has been trying to get into that circuit to help reform and improve the awards. I can only hope people like him do get in and make it better on the long run.

#3: Several anime movies already got nominated in the past, so why not this year?

All nominated anime movies were Ghibli movies or Ghibli-produced movies (ref: The Red Turtle - see this blog post for more info).

And the only reason Ghibli movies end up being nominated is because John Lasseter of Pixar (now Disney) really pushed the Academy to get a nomination for Spirited Away. Don't forget: in order to get a nomination, you need to know the right people. And once you receive an Oscar, the Oscar door will always be open in the future. So that is why Ghibli films will always be considered for nominations in the future.

Yes, there is still that chance to be nominated as part of the 1-2 art-house-movies that get nominated each year (e.g. this year's The Breadwinner & Loving Vincent). But those nominations are mostly done by the critics to save face in the movie festival circuit since they've received TONS of praise over there. So the chance of those two winning is close to 0%.

#4: Boss Baby & Ferdinand did NOT deserve that nomination

Yes, I feel the same way. But read #2 again. Not enough people elegible for voting watch animated movies. If their grandkids talked about Boss Baby a lot, there's a chance it will be nominated. And due to the huge box office success of Boss Baby (almost 500 million dollar worldwide), the chances for a nomination were real. Just be glad the Emoji movie didn't get a nomination (*shudders*).

#5 Do the Oscars even matter anymore?

I can hear many people say "The Oscars don't matter anymore" or "they're always wrong or choose wrong anyway".

And yes, there is a lot of truth in those statements. You don't hear people talk about Oscar-awarded movies at all, safe the next Oscar period. BUT having an Oscar (or even a nomination) for your movie or the category you worked in IS a status symbol and the best possible addition on your resumé.

In fact, of all award shows out there, the only one that people in the industry or in the press will keep referring to IS the Oscars. You won at Cannes/Sundance? Nobody cares; you had great feedback at the Writers Guild awards: Who remembers that? You got nominated for an Oscar? AMAZING!

I mean, no matter what Crunchyroll is going to do with their anime awards, is anyone going to refer to certain anime as: "anime-award winning title"? No. But with Oscars, that is a Yes.

And that is why the Oscars will matter, even if they keep making shitty decisions and award all the wrong movies, year after year.

#6: What movie do I think is going to win / should have been nominated?

  • Anime movie that should have been nominated: A Silent Voice and In This Corner of the World.
  • Will win: Coco, without a doubt.

I haven't seen A Silent Voice yet (have it on Blu-Ray, ready to be watched), but I did see ITCOTW last year at the Anima festival last year (read my review here). But from what I hear / have seen both movies would've been award-material... if they were done in Live Action in Hollywood.

A movie about the consequences of bullying and about deaf people? That's right in the Oscarbait category. A period piece about the consequences of war in Japan? Yeah, definite nomination! If only those grey oldtimers would bother to watch these movies... sigh.

#On a side-note: What does an anime movie have to do to get a submission/nomination?

Well, read the rulebook: http://www.oscars.org/sites/oscars/files/90aa_rules.pdf

If you don't want to read it all, I'll list up a few important rules (for the full list, RTFM!):

  • The movie must meet feature length (thus >40 minutes runtime).
  • Image & Sound must meet DC (Digital Cinema) standards. Thus direct-to-video movies cannot apply.
  • It must have been released in at least 1 L.A. County commercial theater in the past calendar year (January 1 - midnight December 31st). Note: Special previews and festival screenings can count as well under certain circumstances (too many to list here, rtfm).
  • Only the first and earliest theatrical run in LA county counts. Re-runs on later dates, or runs in other theaters in the same county do not count.
  • The movie must have run at least 7 consecutive days in that year with at least 3 screenings per day, including one in the primetime hours (6-10 pm) and those showings must be with paid admission (promo/press showings do not count).
  • It must have been advertised & exploited properly, like any other movie during that period.
  • The first screening of that movie must be (completely) shown in theaters. Movies that are first spread via TV, DVD/BR or Internet (read as: Netflix movies) are exempt. Note: After that first screening, everything is allowed again.
  • Broadcasts must be either with English audio or with English subtitles if English audio is not available.

There are other (administrative) rules (filling in forms, exact timeframes, ways of submitting the films and actors, etc). But if you're in need of those, you're better off reading the rulebook yourself.

Not to mention that if you want to get in favor of the Academy, you'll need the dreaded "Oscar Tour", going on promo tours; handing out free copies of the movies to all the voters, etc. Not every studio wants to do that effort.


Yes, another post since months! Hurrah!

I can't help it. If I see something that bugs me, I feel the need to write about it. But I'll probably skip doing anime reviews. I got bored out after trying to watch every series of the last Spring season (watching to many "meh" anime is bad for morale) and never really got back "in". Not to mention that past few seasons were pretty mediocre. Yeah, even the current one. I've seen the best anime, but that's about it. I do have a few more topics I wanna talk about, but that will be for a later post.

Until that time, V out.

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