Toy Story 3 was the best-reviewed film of the year, sitting at the top of Rotten Tomatoes’ tracking system with a 99% rating. Further, the film broke records left and right at the box office, ultimately settling in the position of the biggest movie of 2010 and the highest-grossing animated film of all-time. It is true that box office status and Tomatometer ratings do not guarantee a Best Picture win – actually, they, often don’t. However, many (filmgoers and critics) have called Toy Story 3 the best film of the year, so what is standing in the way of the animated film and the most coveted Oscar? History.
Pixar’s latest is up against incredible odds. An animated film has never won Best Picture. It has even been difficult for animated films to land a nomination in the category. Toy Story 3 is only the third, following Beauty and the Beast and last year’s Up. On top of that, critics often say that Pixar’s films have only received nominations for Best Picture due to the addition of five more nominees in the category – again because of its medium of choice.
Long thought of as a medium for children, animated films have often been forced to sit at the proverbial kids table. With the creation of the Best Animated Feature category, The Academy set up a way to honor those who worked in the animation industry – but is it also confirmation that they will never consider an animated film for Best Picture?
As they watched Toy Story 3, audiences laughed and cried as they forgot that they were watching a film. Forget about what makes an amazing animated film. Isn’t that the sign of a great film – that one can watch the characters on screen and identify with them like they truly existed?
Pixar films and animated films do not deserve to win Best Picture – they deserve to be considered on a level playing field with their live-action brothers. The Social Network, The King’s Speech, True Grit, Black Swan, 127 Hours, Winter’s Bone, The Fighter, Inception, and The Kids Are All Right are all great films. They are not great live-action films – they are great films.
Animated films have made great strides towards higher respectability within the film community. Pixar is not the only studio responsible. How To Train Your Dragon from Dreamworks was a beautiful film (and the second-best reviewed film of the year), Studio Ghibli’s efforts are always incredibly imaginative, and Disney’s Tangled was a great return to form for the company’s animation studio. The list goes on. The time has come for animated films to break through the barrier and stand not a level below, but alongside live-action films.
Animated films should not have to try ten times as hard to blow audiences away. If Toy Story 3 is not seriously being considered this year, then what does an animated film have to do in order to enter into that conversation? Not winning Best Picture tonight would not be the biggest disappointment for Toy Story 3 – it would be finding out that it never truly had a shot.