The Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film at the Oscars can not only provide an indication on the year of animation as a whole but allow for the first period of introspection on the medium’s output over the last 12 months. Less of an indication of a film’s chances of winning and more of a list of eligible films, the longlist released earlier today provides nominators with a list of titles to choose from to nominate for the award. This year’s longlist includes 32 animated films from all around the world which will be eligible for nomination for the upcoming awards ceremony; on the anime front, four anime films are on the 32-film Oscar longlist, including Promare, Weathering With You and more.
Despite the pop-culture recognition of anime, especially in recent years, the performance of anime at the Oscars has often been lackluster. Despite countless anime films being eligible for the award and pushed by various studios for nomination over the years, from original films like Maquia and Your Name to franchise films, most of these attempts have been unsuccessful. In fact, prior to last year’s nomination of Mamoru Hosoda’s Mirai for the Oscar which eventually went to Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, all the anime films which did receive a nomination for this world-famous award were created by Studio Ghibli. Many of these films were also directed by Hayou Miyazaki, including the only anime film to win the award, Spirited Away.
Personally, I have issues with the award as a metric for judging the best-animated films. The award is heavily skewed towards Western animation and in particular towards Disney, the company which has won over 50% of the Oscars in this category since its induction. Animated films not in the English language from around the world are rarely given a voice here. Not only that, quotes from anonymous voters show a disregard for the award in comparison to other, more ‘important categories’, many simply voting for whatever film their children enjoyed the most. However, in spite of this, it’s hard to ignore the importance and recognition an anime film can receive from a nomination or, in the case of Spirited Away, a victory at the awards show, meaning that, in spite of its flaws, it is still worth discussing.
Four anime films have been made eligible for the awards this year, although realistically only two of these films have a chance of being nominated. Children of the Sea, Promare, Weathering With You and Okko’s Inn have each been put forward as eligible contenders for a run at the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film, although I would argue that only Promare and Weathering With You Have a chance at securing a nomination. Even then, as much as I believe both films deserve a spot, especially in a weaker year for the industry in general, I feel only Shinkai’s Weathering With You has a chance of being nominated. I reviewed both Promare and Weathering With You upon their Japanese releases and fell in love with them both and would love to see these films that showcase the best of Japanese animation, with Promare alone deserving a nomination for its inventive blend of 2D and CG animation. Yet I do unfortunately see Promare being overlooked by nominators, in spite of it having the quality to earn its place on the list. Weathering With You, considering the meteoric rise to fame of director Makoto Shinkai in recent years and the backlash to Your Name missing out to films like The Boss Baby almost seems guaranteed considering these circumstances.
The list of nominees for the 92nd Academy Awards will be announced on Monday, January 13th, 2020, with a decision being made on whether Weathering With You, Promare or any of the other eligible anime films will be nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film at this time. You can view the full 32-film longlist over on the Oscars website.