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Best Animated Feature (pre-2001)

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  • Daniel B.
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    #41007

    In 2001, AMPAS introduced the Best Animated Feature category at the Oscars, however, I am curious to know which films missed out on Oscar nominations and wins before this category was introduced.

    Which films do you think would have been nominated (and won) for Best Animated Feature had the category always existed?

    As a reminder, here are all nominees and winners from 2001 to 2010:

    2010
    How to Train Your Dragon
    The Illusionist
    Toy Story 3

    2009
    Coraline
    Fantastic Mr. Fox
    The Princess and the Frog
    The Secret of Kells
    Up

    2008
    Bolt
    Kung Fu Panda
    WALL-E

    2007
    Persepolis
    Ratatouille
    Surf’s Up

    2006
    Cars
    Happy Feet
    Monster House

    2005
    Corpse Bride
    Howl’s Moving Castle
    Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

    2004
    The Incredibles
    Shark Tale
    Shrek 2

    2003
    Brother Bear
    Finding Nemo
    The Triplets of Belleville

    2002
    Ice Age
    Lilo & Stitch
    Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
    Spirited Away
    Treasure Planet

    2001
    Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius
    Monsters, Inc.
    Shrek

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    blueprint
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    #41009

    2000
    Chicken Run
    The Emperor’s New Groove
    (can’t make up another contender)

    1999

    The Iron Giant or South Park: Bigger Longer Uncut
    Tarzan
    Toy Story 2

    1998
    A Bug’s Life
    Antz
    Mulan

    1997
    Anastasia
    Hercules
    Princess Mononoke

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    Daniel B.
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    #41010

    2000
    • Chicken Run
    • Dinosaur
    • The Emperor’s New Groove
    (alternates: Escaflowne; The Tigger Movie; The Road to El Dorado; Titan A.E.)
    Even though I personally love The Emperor’s New Groove far more than Chicken Run, the Aardman animation would have been the one to beat.  A failed campaign to gain a Best Picture nomination for Chicken Run is what resulted in the Best Animated Feature being created.  Dinosaur seems like the only other logical nominee, followed by Escaflowne.

    1999
    • The Iron Giant
    • Tarzan
    • Toy Story 2
    (alternates: South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut; Fantasia 2000)
    In all honesty, Toy Story 2 would have been the only lock for a
    nomination, but a nomination outside of these five would have been a
    surprise.  One of the main reasons I opted not to include South Park was that if The Simpsons Movie and SpongeBob SquarePants couldn’t get nominated, the Academy just might have a bias against films spawned from TV shows.  But then again, the South Park movie had much stronger support from critics, and did gain an Oscar nomination in its own right for Original Song.

    1998
    • Antz
    • A Bug’s Life
    • Mulan
    (alternate: The Prince of Egypt)
    While it might not have been the winner in a runaway, A Bug’s Life seems like the only film that was safe for a nomination, as The Prince of Egypt could have easily made the ballot over Antz or Mulan.

    1997
    • Anastasia
    • Hercules
    • Princess Mononoke
    (alternate: Cats Don’t Dance)
    Even though Cats Don’t Dance won the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature over Hercules (which took home the prize for direction, character animation, and production!), its 69% Rotten Tomatoes score doesn’t compare to the Certified Fresh scores of the other 3 predicted nominees.  However, if Cats makes the lineup, Anastasia is out.
    EDIT: Thanks for pointing out that Princess Mononoke was Japan’s official submission at the Oscars for Foreign Language Film, which would make it eligible for an Oscar nomination, and most likely the win as well. Does anyone know if the version submitted included English subtitled, English dubbed voices, or was it submitted entirely in Japanese? 

    1996
    Ghost in the Shell (Japan: 1995, US: 1996)
    James and the Giant Peach
    The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    (alternate: Beavis and Butt-Head Do America)
    The only way James and the Giant Peach wouldn’t have won this
    year is if for some reason its live action sequences pushed its animated
    sequences below the 75% of the total film to qualify.

    1995
    Balto
    Pocahontas
    Toy Story
    (alternates: A Goofy Movie; Memories; Gumby: The Movie)
    With fairly weak competition, one of the greatest animated
    films would have won in a landslide.  Although it is hard to believe
    that Pocahontas took home two Oscars that night, when Toy Story went home empty-handed.

    1994
    The Lion King
    Pom Poko
    The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb

    (alternates: The Swan Princess; Thumbelina; The Pagemaster; A Troll in Central Park)
    Again, a fairly easy win for a classic animated film.
    EDIT: I realized that Pom Poko, like Princess Mononoke, was also the official Foreign Language Film submission for 1994, meaning it must have had a qualifying US release, and a likely nomination in the Animated Feature category. This bumps the poorly-reviewed The Swan Princess into the alternates list.

    1993
    Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
    The Nightmare Before Christmas
    We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story
    (alternates: Once Upon a Forest; Tom & Jerry: The Movie)
    Batman seems like an unlikely nominee here, but when compared
    with the other animated films released that year, it probably would have
    had no problem getting a nomination.  Again, no question about what
    would have won that year.

    1992
    Aladdin
    FernGully: The Last Rainforest
    The Tune
    (alternates: Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland; Rock-A-Doodle)
    Two locks for a nomination, and a lock for a win, with the third slot
    wide open.  Again, one of those years where a deserving nominee might not have been ineligible: Japan’s Porco Rosso, which might have easily been nominated alongside Aladdin and FernGully. If not, the third nomination spot is a toss-up between The Tune and Little Nemo.

    1991
    An American Tail: Fievel Goes West
    Beauty and the Beast
    Robot Carnival
    (alternates: Rover Dangerfield)
    Very weak competition for a very deserving film.  Only Yesterday could have scored a nomination with an American release date (although probably would have competed in 1992).

    1990
    DuckTales: The Movie
    The Nutcracker Prince
    The Rescuers Down Under
    (alternate: Jetsons: The Movie)
    Probably the weakest lineup so far.  The Rescuers Down Under seems like the more Oscar-ish movie, but critics preferred the DuckTales movie.

    1989
    Akira
    All Dogs Go to Heaven
    The Little Mermaid
    (alternate: Babar: The Movie)
    Released in Japan in 1988, Akira managed to squeeze in a US theatrical screening in before 1989 ended.  These seem like the logical three nominees, with The Little Mermaid most likely winning.

    1988
    • Alice
    • The Land Before Time
    • Who Framed Roger Rabbit
    (alternate: Oliver & Company)
    Even though I have Who Framed Roger Rabbit as the winner, it’s
    not even a guarantee it would have been nominated.  Whether or not 75%
    of the film comprised animation sequences would have determined
    if the Oscar would have ended up going to The Land Before Time. Also, two of the most acclaimed animated films of all time, were released in Japan in 1988, but not the USA: My Neighbor Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies. It is very likely that had the category existed back then, qualifying US theatrical runs would have taken place to get nominated either this year or the next.. Had this happened, it would have been very interesting to see what would have made it, and what wouldn’t have.

    1987
    • The Brave Little Toaster
    • The Chipmunk Adventure
    • The Puppetoon Movie
    (alternates: Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night; The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland)
    In what would have been another fairly weak year, The Brave Little Toaster seems like the only logical Oscar winner. Some of the well-received international animated films from 1986 (When the Wind Blows; Castle in the Sky;and Cat City) might have been given 1987 US releases, and any one of them could have been nominated, and potentially win.

    1986
    • An American Tail
    • The Great Mouse Detective
    • Night on the Galactic Railroad
    (alternates: The Adventures of Mark Twain; Transformers: The Movie; The Cosmic Eye)
    Some of the highest-rated animated movies (according to IMDB) were released in 1986: When the Wind Blows; Castle in the Sky; and Cat City, none of which received theatrical releases in the US in time to qualify. This would have been a very close race for the win, and An American Tail could have easily won over The Great Mouse Detective.

    1985
    • The Black Cauldron
    • Here Come the Littles
    • Warriors of the Wind
    (alternate: Starchaser: The Legend of Orin)
    Warriors of the Wind, a heavily-edited version of Nausicaa, had a good chance of winning that year, but honestly, any one of the films I listed, including Starchaser had a decent shot at the win.

    1984
    no award presented.

    1983
    • The Plague Dogs
    • Rock & Rule
    • Twice Upon a Time
    (alternate: Fire and Ice)
    Another fairly weak year.  The predicted winner is based solely on its IMDB rating.

    1982
    • Heidi’s Song
    • The Last Unicorn
    • The Secret of NIMH
    (alternates: Hey Good Lookin’; Space Firebird)

    1981
    • The Fox and the Hound
    • Grendel Grendel Grendel
    • Heavy Metal
    (alternate: American Pop)

    1980
    • Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown
    • I Go Pogo
    There probably wouldn’t have been a presentation for this category this year, as I could only find two possible nominees.

    1979
    I could only find Nutcracker Fantasy as a possible nominee.

    1978
    • The Lord of the Rings
    • Metamorphoses
    • Watership Down

    1977
    • The Mouse and His Child
    • Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
    • The Rescuers
    (alternates: The Magic Pony; Wizards)

    1976
    • Allegro non troppo
    • Hugo the Hippo

    1975
    I could only find Tubby the Tuba as a possible nominee. 6.1 on IMDB, and no Rotten Tomatoes score available. Perhaps no special achievement award this year. 

    1974
    The only US-released animated film of 1974 I could find on IMDB (not including the X-rated Down and Dirty Duck) was Journey Back to Oz, with an unimpressive 5.9 rating, and no Rotten Tomatoes score available. Some other animated films released internationally that year that might have sought qualifying US releases for a chance at the Oscar (IMDB scores in brackets): Jack and the Beanstalk (7.1); Oliver Twist (6.3); Dunderklumpen! (6.6); A Thousand and One Nights (6.7); Robinson Crusoe (7.0); and Il giro del mondo degli innamorati di Peynet (6.8).

    1973
    • Charlotte’s Web
    • Fantastic Planet
    • Robin Hood
    (alternate: Heavy Traffic)
    Any one of these could have easily won.  I give Fantastic Planet the edge because it’s the one critics gave overwhelming support to (88% on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.6 on IMDB), and won a special award at the Cannes Film Festival. Box office hit Robin Hood only scored 55% on Rotten Tomatoes (but a respectable 7.5 on IMDB), while Charlotte’s Web also fared well with critics, scoring 75% on Rotten Tomatoes (IMDB 6.8).

    1972
    I could only find Snoopy, Come Home as a possible nominee. Perhaps a special achievement award for 1972?

    1971
    • The Point
    • Shinbone Alley
    • Tiki Tiki

    1970
    • The Aristocats
    • The Phantom Tollbooth
    • Santa and the Three Bears

    1969
    • A Boy Named Charlie Brown
    • Out of an Old Man’s Head (Sweden: 1968, USA: 1969)

    1968
    • Yellow Submarine

    1967
    • The Jungle Book
    • Mad Monster Party

    1966
    • The Daydreamer
    • Gulliver’s Travels Beyond the Moon
    • The Man Called Flintstone
    (alternate: Alice of Wonderland in Paris)

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    blueprint
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    #41011

    wow, great work Daniel! I mixed up some release dates, will change that now.
    About Princess Mononoke, it was the official Japanese entry for Best Foreign Language Film in 1997, so it had to be in LA theatres for at least a week, making it eligible for Animated Feature as well.

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    Daniel B.
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    #41012

    You’re right, blueprint! I hadn’t realized that. As handy as IMDB is, you can’t always depend for it to have all of the information available when it comes to release dates.

    I will revise my list shortly.

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    Daniel B.
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    #41013

    I might even re-edit my list, and include foreign titles that would have been strong contenders (and would have likely sought out a qualifying run for an Oscar nomination).

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