QUOTE The More Things Change … OF THE MONTH
One thing that looking through old issues of Animation Magazine in preparing for our 30th anniversary this year has shown is just how much the animation industry has both changed and not changed.
On the change side, there’s clearly a huge increase in creativity. You may have noticed this month that we have two covers, one for Sony Pictures Animation’s fully-animated Smurfs: The Lost Village and one for DreamWorks Animation’s newest feature, The Boss Baby. While they are very different, they are both very high-quality features with excellent animation, great laughs, lots of adventure and plenty of heart. That wasn’t always so — it used to appear that only Disney had the magic for making a great animated feature. And then, slowly, over the past 30 years or so, other studios have emerged to give the old Mouse House a real run for its money. And everyone benefits from that.
Not that Disney isn’t responding to a more competitive market with its own innovations. Last year’s Disney double-punch of Zootopia and Moana prove the studio still has it where it counts.
Which brings me to the end of awards season, and this year’s big winners at the Annies, the VES Awards and the Oscars. (All of which Animag attended and live-tweeted! You were following along, right?) One of the great things about this year’s awards season was that all the nominated films were really worthy, which limited to almost zero the number of awards that drew gasps of surprise from attendees. (Of course, I’m not counting the Best Picture flub, which goes down as one of the most memorable moments in Oscar history, but even there, both La La Land and Moonlight were worthy of the honor, so there’s always that.) However, Zootopia’s win for Best Animated Feature suggests the Academy just plain prefers Disney’s work in this category, with Disney or Pixar having won it 11 times in its 16 years of existence. And while I think Zootopia was clearly worthy of its victory, there is something about the Oscars process that troubles me.
Every year, I read The Hollywood Reporter’s Brutally Honest Oscars Ballot feature, in which members of the Academy anonymously reveal their votes. Of the six such ballots featured this year, three of them abstained from the animated feature category because they didn’t watch all the nominated films or plainly stated they just weren’t interested in animation. That’s not dissimilar to responses from previous years.
What’s disheartening about this is that it appears the Academy (and by extension, the worldwide filmmaking community centered in Hollywood) is not taking animated features seriously. It appears that years of box office, critical response, and reaching a mass audience with high-quality features is simply not enough to convince everyone that animation is the most cutting-edge storytelling medium on the planet. And while I’d love to change that overnight, I also realize that hearts and minds are changed one by one and no one argument or movie will convince everyone.
Which brings me back to Animation Magazine’s 30th anniversary and what it says about this great industry and art form. We’ve been here every day, every issue — and will continue to be here for all of our readers, advertisers and admirers for a long time to come. We are glad you’re with us, and can’t wait to celebrate 30 years of success as well as the amazing fortunes that the next 30 years holds for animation.
Until next issue,