Phil Lord, Chris Miller: Animation is not an inferior art form

Last Sunday, at a lively Oscar, it was easy to lose when three actors who were identified as Disney princesses presented the Best Animated Feature Award reading: “Cartoons are some of our most formative cinematic experiences as children. So many kids watch these movies over and over again… and over and over and over and over again ίζω I think some parents out there know exactly what are we talking about. “

The framing of the five Oscar nominees for Best Animated Feature as a corporate product for children that parents have to endure with resentment could be dismissed as simply careless. But for those of us who have dedicated our lives to making cartoons, this carelessness has become routine. The head of a large animation studio once said at an animators’ meeting that if we played our cards right, one day “we would graduate in live action”. Years later, another studio executive said that a particular animated film we made was so enjoyable that it reminded them of a “real movie.”

There are, of course, far more important things in the world – and more important things to think about in the aftermath of this year’s Oscars, including some really high points to keep in mind: Beyoncé! Compton! “CODA”! Questlove! But the repetitive reduction of our art form is at the top of the minds of animators. We are currently negotiating with the Film and Television Producers Alliance to persuade the studios to pay the animation workers fairly, especially when animation is such a large and important part of their results. (Look for # NewDeal4Animation to learn more!) During the pandemic, when much of the physical production was shut down, the animators started working right away from home. These movies kept our business afloat.

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Cartoons usually show excellence in photography, design, costumes and interpretations. They are some of the most carefully and cinematically directed films of the year. They have some of the most intricate scores and sound design.

They are also successes! When broadcasters lament the fact that so many of the nominees have not been widely screened, they must forget that the nominees for “Luca”, “Raya and the Last Dragon” and “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” were three of the 10 highest-grossing films of 2021. (Seven out of 10 were animated!) Or that 13 (25%!) of the 50 highest-grossing films of all time are animated. Or that a huge percentage of the theatrical audience of mainstream cartoons consists of adults who are not accompanied by children. Cartoons are for everyone. And the studios know it. That is why we see unprecedented investments in the production of cartoons.

This year’s winning film, “Encanto,” had a complex theme of how family trauma is passed on to a generation that connects many adults with and without children on a deeply personal level. “Flee”, a shocking animated documentary about an Afghan refugee, is not about children, nor are the previous nominations for “I Lost My Body”, “Waltz With Bashir”, “Persepolis” and more. As the winner of the best short animation, Alberto Mielgo, reminded the public on Sunday, “Animation is cinema”. An emotion that must be repeated.

Here’s a simple step: Next year, invite a respected director to present the award and the animated frame as a movie.

Guillermo del Toro, who produces, directs and deeply appreciates animation, could remind the public that animation pre-existed in cinema, that without the animation there is no American Zoetropio.

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Bong Joon Ho could explain why he included two of this year ‘s animated feature nominations (“Flee” and “The Mitchells vs. the Machines”) among his top 10 favorite films of the year.

Machersala Ali, both a thriller in animated films and a live action, could tell the world that animation is not a genre, but a medium that at best observes and enhances the nuances of our humanity so that we can to see ourselves. and see ourselves.

This year, as we celebrated the 30th anniversary of White Men Can’t Jump, we may have also celebrated the 20th anniversary of Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar-winning “Spirited Away.” It’s not too late to present the prize of time. By the way, it would be the first time he would ever adorn the stage at the Oscars.

And if in 2022 we marked the 28th anniversary of “Pulp Fiction”, in 2023 we can celebrate the 31st anniversary of the historic nomination for best film for “Beauty and the Beast”.

This nomination caused such a stir that some worried that an animated film might win the best film of the year, a feeling that, in part, led to the creation of the Best Animated Feature Award, both for recognizing the contribution of animation to current cinema, as well as, for some, to prevent animated films from winning the “real” award.

At least they took us seriously.

Certainly no one wanted to downplay the animated films, but it’s time to start upgrading them.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller directed the animated films “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” and “The LEGO Movie” and won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature as the producers of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” in 2018. They also produced the 2021 Oscar-nominated animated film “The Mitchells vs. the Machines ».

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