The Oscars don’t respect animation. Why should we expect them to start next year?

There’s always the chance ‘The Wild Robot’ breaks through. But don’t hold your breath. PLUS: The first trailers for ‘The Acolyte’ and ‘Alien: Romulus,’ and are we getting a ‘Kick-Ass’ James Bond?

The Oscars don’t respect animation. Why should we expect them to start next year?
Miles Morales from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Carl Fredricksen from Up, Roz from The Wild Robot, Belle and the Beast from Beauty and the Beast. / Sony Pictures Animation, Pixar Studios, DreamWorks Animation, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Happy Friday! There are a ridiculous number of trailers in this week’s edition of Popculturology, with previews of Star Wars: The Acolyte, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, House of the Dragon, Beetlejuice Beetlejuice, Fall Guy, Alien: Romulus, Monkey Man, Conan O’Brien Must Go, Rebel Moon — Part Two: The Scargiver (I’m sorry) and Harold and the Purple Crayon (I’m so sorry). But before we get to those, I have some thoughts on the Oscars and animation ...

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Variety published their super, super early predictions for next year’s Oscar nominations last week. One pick that immediately stood out to me was the inclusion of The Wild Robot among their ten guesses at the Best Picture field.

What’s so surprising about that? you ask. You called the first trailer for The Wild Robot “absolutely beautiful” last week.

First off, thanks for reading last week’s newsletter. But second, the concept of an animated film getting a Best Picture nomination goes against everything the Academy has done for more than a decade — and pretty much an entire century.

The Academy doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to animation. The Oscars love to insult the art form. In 2022, it was Lily James, Halle Bailey and Naomi Scott quipping that “so many kids watch these movies over and over … and over and over and over and over … I think some parents out there know exactly what we’re talking about.” Just a few weekends ago, it was host Jimmy Kimmel asking his audience to “please raise your hand if you let your kid fill out this part of the ballot.”

No matter how often storytellers like Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have sarcastically pointed out that it’s “super cool to position animation as something that kids watch and adults have to endure” or reminded their colleagues that animation “is not a genre for children it is a medium for people and that medium is film,” the Academy keeps coming back to the joke that animation is, well, a joke.

The Academy’s view that animation doesn’t deserve a place at the Big Kids’ table with the real films goes beyond hosts and presenters taking shots at the craft. All you have to do is look at the Best Picture nominees for the entire history of the Oscars to see the divide.