Hey, Ellen DeGeneres: You’re swimmingly good in the new Disney/Pixar spinoff film “Finding Dory.” In fact, movie critics around the globe are unanimously praising your performance. But there’s one thing about your voice-over work that annoys the “carp” out of me: you won’t be nominated at the Oscars.
Despite their clout within the industry, the Academy Awards are far from perfect. The biggest oversight of this 88-year-old awardsfest is the lack of recognition for voice-over performances. Sure, these talents are eligible to be nominated in one of the four main acting categories — lead actor, lead actress, supporting actor, supporting actress — but that’s never happened. Not once.
Besides voice-over acting, the academy also ignores the hard work being done by stunt coordinators, casting directors and motion-capture performers every year. But it’s hard to imagine that voice-over talents will be ignored forever. After all, the Oscars aren’t set in stone. Back in 2001 they realized the importance of recognizing animated features so they created a brand new category, with “Shrek” being the first-ever champ. And in 2012 they added Hairstyling to the Best Makeup race so that both creatives could be honored together.
Over on the small screen, the Emmys started recognizing voice-over talents more than 20 years ago. In 1992 the TV academy created an award for Best Voice-Over Performance and their initial call to arms was to honor six actors collectively for their work on “The Simpsons.” Since then, everyone from Christopher Plummer (“Madeline,” 1994) to Anne Hathaway (“The Simpsons,” 2010) to Lily Tomlin (“An Apology to Elephants,” 2013) have earned Emmys for their voice work.
Even the Golden Globes realized in 1993 that there are some instances where voice-over talents deserve recognition. They gave Robin Williams a special award for his brilliant performance as the Genie in “Aladdin.” Had the Oscars followed suit, the late great Williams would be a two-time Oscar recipient to go along with his supporting trophy for “Good Will Hunting” (1997).
We’ll forgive the Oscars for their nearly nine decades of neglecting such performances if they were to announce the new Best Voice-Over Performance category this year. No hard feelings, it can be a clean slate. And now is the perfect time for them to make the move by honoring two-time Oscar host DeGeneres for “Finding Dory.”