In the year 2017, there was wide internet outcry over the Academy Awards not nominating Your Name, by Makoto Shinkai. This came out to be highly unexpected as Makoto Shinkai’s feature-length film ruled the box office. It made more money worldwide than any other anime film before it. It was also chosen as the Best Animated Feature Film of 2016 by the LA Films Critics Association. So why did the film not get a nomination? Or more importantly, why don’t we see more anime winning at the Oscars?
Oscar’s Voting Process
The Oscars are chosen through a voting process. And the thing is, none of the voters are critics. The more interesting thing is that to become a voter you have to be Oscar-nominated yourself. Many of these voters are from the Golden Era of Hollywood or to be specific from the 1950s to the 1970s. They have a rather specific view on animation. They come from a time where the animation was not as developed as it is now. There is also a clear bias towards a certain company.
The Academy has always been very open about their favoritism regarding Disney. There have been 16 winners in the Animation category so far. 12 of them were distributed by Disney. It accounts for more than 75% of the wins. Out of the 67 films that have been nominated, only 5 are from Japan. That makes 7% of the nominees. But the thing is, all of these films have one thing in common. They were all distributed by Disney. This brings us to the next point.
The Academy likes to go with Distribution companies that have a very reputable record in the industry. At least, one foreign film gets nominated each year. They are normally distributed by Sony Pictures Classic or GKids. These two are studios viewed as art-house distributors. Anime distributors like Funimation and Aniplex don’t have this image. Instead, they present themselves as geek culture. They appeal to more of a teenage audience. This gives them no respect at the Academy. Perhaps, most of the voters have not even heard of them.
Lack Of Academy Knowledge
Most of the voters won’t be on the internet due to their age and won’t be up to date with film news in general. Funimation also made the mistake of being too hasty. In order for a film to be nominated for an Oscar, it needs to be previewed at the LA County the year prior. Funimation didn’t get the timing right. It pushed for a quick LA premiere in December 2016 with only two shows. It got its main release four months later. This was 2 months after the 2017 Oscars. It gives the Academy very less time to know about it.
The Oscars are now looking to a more diverse voters list but the sad thing is that nobody seems to care for the Oscars now. Perhaps it is all a case of too little, too late. So perhaps it doesn’t matter if anime does not end up winning at the Oscars, after all.
For an article on why anime adaptations fail, click here.