For animated films, major barrier remains
A decade ago, when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences created the Oscar for animated feature, the new category’s nominees included “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius,” a Nickelodeon-produced movie memorable for little more than its belch jokes.
Ten years on, the competition has become much fiercer: This year, the three films vying for the prize are all critical darlings that had to beat out two other well-reviewed box-office hits to earn a nomination.
The only traditionally animated film that has won the category was Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” in 2002, but for independent animated films like “The Illusionist,” 2007’s “Persepolis” and 2009’s “The Secret of Kells,” a mere nomination helps attract attention from viewers outside the cartoon niche.
“We don’t see this as some sort of big battle between the pencil and the computer,” said Last. “But for a film like ‘The Illusionist,’ the Academy Awards are even more important. It’s a crucial tool for us to reach an audience.”