Although animated films have been prominent in cinema for decades, it wasn’t until 2002 that the Academy Awards decided to make an Oscar celebrating the medium. Of course, some argue that the Best Animated Feature Oscar only serves as a means to prevent animated films from winning the awards from “real” movies (and there’s probably some truth to that), but the award has managed to build a reputation for itself through the years.
Now, what that reputation is is up for debate. The Academy seems to care very little for the award itself, which is evident by the fact that it’s usually done with early on in every program (or being used at a “bathroom break” moment), or that critically panned animated movies have received nomination while critically beloved films have been snubbed (more on that later), or by how Pixar has seemingly been handed the award year after year just for showing up, whether deserved or not.
But it hasn’t all been bad. Although the Academy tries everything within its power to make sure animated films don’t receive more than a token nomination or two, the Best Animated Feature Oscar has had some highlights. I seem to make an obligatory rant or two on the subject every year after the nominees are announced, so here’s this year’s edition of my rantings, reflecting on the entire history of the Best Animated Feature Oscar from its inception in 2002 (awarded to 2001 films) all the way to the 2013 nominees.
To add a little spin this time around, I’ll rate every year’s Best Animated Feature from one to five stars, based not just on the quality of the winner, but the nominees as well. So without further ado, let’s take a trip back in time to 2002.