The 2015 Oscar animation nominees, plus the least diverse Oscars in 20 years

This year’s Oscar nominees have been announced. Here’s the nominees for Animated Feature Film:

  • Big Hero 6
  • The Boxtrolls
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • Song of the Sea
  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Should win (based on Rotten Tomatoes): “Princess Kaguya” (100% RT) or “Song of the Sea” (98% RT)

Will win: Not sure. My guesses are “Big Hero 6” (it’s a Disney movie in a year with no Pixar film) or “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”

The nominees for Animated Short Film:

  • The Bigger Picture
  • The Dam Keeper
  • Feast
  • Me and My Moulton
  • A Single Life

Should win: No Rotten Tomatoes rankings available.

Will win: Not sure, having only seen “Feast.”

A full list of nominations may be found here.

One glaring snub for the animated feature list is “The Lego Movie.” It is nominated for Original Song, however, for “Everything is Awesome,” though it’s up against a song from “Selma” (which won this year’s Golden Globe for said category).

An even bigger issue, however (though in my opinion partly related to “Lego”‘s snub) are the nominees for the top Oscar categories this year. While “Selma” is nominated for Best Picture, its only other major nomination is for Original Song. For the best and supporting actor and actress categories, all of the nominees are White. All of the screenwriter and director nominees are also all men. The Atlantic notes this is the least amount of diversity for Oscar nominees since 1995.

While the Oscars have always been hit and miss on reflecting the general public’s tastes or society at large, this year’s nominees’ lack of diversity is noticeable enough that it’s attracting mainstream news attention. Besides The Atlantic, others remarking on this include NPR, NBC, and entertainment industry trades The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. Social media, of course, has appropriately gone on at length on this news. The fact that last year’s Best Picture winner was “12 Years a Slave” draws even more attention to this.

As for why a lack of diversity in nominees, a lot of blame can be placed on the demographics of Oscar voters. The Los Angeles Times notes that the judges are 94% White, 77% male, and the median age is 62. Not only would that explain a lack of racial diversity in what’s nominated, it also likely contributes to the treatment of animated, sci-fi and fantasy fare. A generation that would’ve grown up with the belief that “cartoons/comics are for kids” likely won’t be receptive to the idea of nominating or awarding such films.

As for “The Lego Movie””s Best Animated Feature snub, I assume either (ideally) the judges needed room for the foreign films nominated or (cynically) the elderly judges wouldn’t have the nostalgia for a film centered around a toy their kids or grandkids grew up with. (Contrast to “Toy Story,” which featured plenty of 1950s and 60s-style toys.)

Which leads to the other factor. The Oscars are seen by many as the time once a year Hollywood’s concerned about (or depending on point of view, pretending to be concerned about) high art and presenting their best face to the world. Of course, this is yet another reason you won’t see a film like “The Dark Knight” or “Beauty and the Beast” win Best Picture. However, the lack of racial and gender diversity in this year’s nominees, along with things like the recent leaked Sony emails, put forth a “face” that says some very negative and grim things about Hollywood.

(Updated 2/22/15)

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