I have to apologize. I had a really busy year and as a result, I neglected this blog a little bit. I therefore decided to do something special for this December: Some sort of virtual Advent calendar, in which I will post a substantial article every day up to Christmas Day. And by searching for a good theme for it, something occurred me: That there are a lot of animated movies which never had the chance to win any Academy Award or Annie for best picture. Simply because it took so long to establish any kind of award.
Not that I complain about this. Before the start of what I dubbed the “Multi-Age” in my article about the different eras of movie animation, there simply weren’t enough animated movies to warrant such an award. It would have been boiled down to “this one movie which was actually produced this year gets the prize” more often than not. Still, I think all those movies deserve some consideration. So I will do the following: I will take a look at movies released during a time-span which gives me a reasonable number of movies which are award-worthy in one way or another. For starters a decade but I’ll narrow it down later on, when there are enough high quality movies released in a shorter time span. I will pick three to five movies (depending on how many movies I deal with) and put them on a list of nominees. I will then discuss the merits of the movies in question, and pick one winner. Then I will do the next decade/time period up the last movie which was released in 1999. And finally, I will pit all the winners against each other, and whatever movie wins will be my pick for the best animated movie of the 20th century.
This is naturally mostly based on my opinion (hence the name Swanpride Award). But that doesn’t automatically mean that I will simply pick the movie with which I have the most fun with. I will try to be as objective as possible. And yes, objectivity in movie criticism is a thing.
I recently noted that a lot of people seem to think that judging movies is solely a matter of taste. That is not the case. If that were true, than there wouldn’t be movies which are more popular than others. There are certain rules of storytelling and certain standards of quality a movie has to meet to be successful, rules which experts have figured out by observing the reaction of the audience to certain elements for centuries (yes, I am aware that movies haven’t been around that long, but literature and the theatre have and the basic rules are not that different, no matter what medium is used). They are not arbitrary, as some people like to claim.
The truth is, though, that there is no such thing as a perfect movie. Every movie has flaws. But (and that’s the point at which subjectivity comes into play) how much those flaws are bothering a particular viewer differs. Take a movie like Avatar (I picked it because of his position as highest grossing movie of all time): Is the story generic and full of plot holes? You can bet it is, which is exactly the reason why I personally don’t like this movie. But it is also a visually impressive and full of creative designs. Someone who loves those elements so much that they would be willing to overlook those flaws, and having this opinion is not automatically wrong.
Another aspect which has to be considered judging movies is that sometimes a director deliberately breaks the rules of story-telling. There are instances in which one can easily argue that what is perceived to be a flaw, actually works to the advantage of the movie as a whole in one way or another. You could for example argue that Avatar deliberately tells a generic story because a familiar tale makes it easier to relate to this foreign world.
My point in all this is that I will try my very best to look at the flaws of the movies and their strengths as objectively as possible, maybe even argue against my own opinion. My final decision will most likely be based on my personal taste to a certain degree, but the point of the exercise is to put a lot of movies into the spotlight which you would normally don’t find on any top ten lists. And hopefully I don’t have to do it alone. I want my readers to participate.
The truth is that while I have seen a lot of animated movies, I certainly haven’t seen all of them. Therefore it is entirely possible that I might have missed out on some gems. I therefore ask you all to submit your picks for attention-worthy animated movies for consideration. That is easy. You simply have to drop a comment, telling me which movie (or movies) you think should be on the nomination list. Please submit the name of the movie and the year in which was released. For more obscure ones, the name of the studio would be helpful, too. If you want to heighten the chance that it makes the nomination list, feel free to write a short explanation why this movie deserves to get nominated (I might even incorporate it into the article). Feel also free to nominate movies which are famous and therefore expected nominees. They are most likely already on my list, but a good argument in advance might sway my final judgement in one way or another.
To be eligible for the award, the movie has to be:
- Predominantly Animated (Meaning Fantasia counts as an animated movie because it is animated with live-action segments in-between while Mary Poppins doesn’t because it is mostly live-action with one animated segment thrown in)
- Theatrical (so no direct-to-video or TV releases)
- A movie length feature (I mention that point because there are some shorts which actually got a theatrical release in tandem with a bigger movie)
That is all. It doesn’t matter if it is stop-motion, traditionally animated or CGI, in which country it was first released, or which studio made it, not even if it is geared towards kids, families or adults. It doesn’t even matter if you think that it has a chance to win as long as you think that it is worthy of the attention. But don’t wait too long. After all, I will have to watch and rewatch a lot of movies. If you submit a movie one day before the article is due, I might not have the time take it properly into consideration.
I also would like to include polls, allowing you to vote for your favourite nominee yourself in order to counterbalance my opinion. But I am not sure if I should do so because, well, let’s be honest here the number of subscribers is not high enough that the result would be even remotely representative. Therefore I will start with a little test-poll, just to see how many of you would like to participate this way. What do you think about my plans?