The nominees for the 2013 Annie Awards have been announced. For the sake of simplicity, let's just say that the Annie Awards are animation's equivalent of a combination of the Academy, Emmy and Clio awards. Here are you nominees for the best in animated feature films from 2012.
Never mind that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and their counterpart for small screen filmmaking already hand out awards for the best in animation. You can't have too many awards. One notable thing about this year's Annie Awards nominees that is considerably and striking at odds with the list of films that have been nominated over the last decade.
Not a single Annie Award nominees for Best Animated Feature of 2012 is a serious contender for being the actual Best Picture that gets overlooked come the final tearing of the envelope at the end of the Oscar telecast. Truly, it has been a Golden Age for Animation in the 21st century. No other broad genre of filmmaking can lay claim to the opening decade of the 21st century being representative of the best that the genre has produced.
Well, okay, sure: maybe comic book movies are experiencing their own Golden Age, but that's different. They were never taken seriously even as a form of movie art. But animated feature films have been around since as long as film has existed and many of the classics of the past are among the greatest films ever made. As a collective entity, however, the past dozen years or so has witnessed the most aesthetically impressive series of feature length cartoons the world has ever known. And in just about every year of the 21st century up to 2012, at least one animated film could have made a legitimate claim to being among the five best movies of the year that Oscar used to limit Best Picture to.
Not so 2012. And, indeed, only "Puss in Boots" managed to rise above the pack in 2012. (Little surprise, then, that Oscar voters failed to recognize its superiority to its own choice for Best Animated Film). Two straight years of weak efforts in the most comprehensively satisfying genre of the millennium so far could just be the natural and expected dip in artistic achievement that follows any unnaturally long and high spark. The reliance on lesser sequels to proven products and, even more so, the trend toward building animated features around established stars not known for voice acting paints a much more disturbing portrait.
What may only potentially be a minor bump in the road gives every appearance of being something far more sinister, yet ultimately predictable. Animation in the feature film industry in 2012 looks very much like rock music did around 1972. The Beatles, Elvis Presley's comeback and "Pet Sounds" were all in the past now. The immediate future would include Elton John, Journey and disco.
Hopefully, there is the equivalent of Johnny Rotten out there in the world of animation ready to save the art form from itself.
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