One of the most recent categories added to the Oscars is Best Animated Feature, which was first recognized at the 74th Academy Awards for the films of 2001. While animated films would occasionally receive nominations in writing and music categories, there had previously not been any individual categories that exclusively celebrated feature-length animation. Due to the rising amount of eligible titles, the Oscars helped shed a spotlight on these films, as sadly only three animated films have ever received Best Picture nominations. While animation is a medium and not a genre, there’s unfortunately a stigma that many Academy voters still hold on to that these films are only for children (via Cartoon Brew).
While the Best Animated Feature category helps recognize the great work of animation artists, it’s a narrow category that often favors the work of studios like Pixar and Disney. With more and more great animated films released every year, it’s become even harder to narrow down which films will get in. Currently, the official Academy Awards can only recognize five films if enough titles are eligible in any given year. The competition has grown more fierce, as studios like Disney and Netflix that release multiple animated films each year have to prioritize which titles to promote for consideration. It’s often that many deserving titles end up getting left off, and these ten great animated films were snubbed by the Academy.
10 Apollo 10 ½
The Oscars often nominate filmmakers best known for their live-action work in the animated category; Tim Burton received nominations for Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie, and Wes Anderson was recognized for Isle of Dogs and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Unfortunately, Richard Linklater was passed over for his hilarious coming-of-age dramedy Apollo 10 ½, which followed the adventures of a young boy (voiced by Jack Black) who reflects on his misadventures and memories during the summer before the Apollo 11 moon landing.
9 The LEGO Batman Movie
It’s not like the Oscars are biased against superhero movies in the animated category, as The Incredibles, Big Hero 6, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse all took home victories. However, it does seem like they always seem to snub the Batman franchise. After The Dark Knight was infamously left out of the Best Picture category and The Dark Knight Rises received zero nominations, the hilarious family adventure The LEGO Batman Movie was snubbed as well.
8 Wendell & Wild
Sadly, the legendary animator Henry Sellick has never won an Academy Award. Sellick’s groundbreaking 1993 film The Nightmare Before Christmas was released before the creation of the Best Animated Feature category, and while Coraline was nominated, it ended up losing to Pixar’s Up. Wendell & Wild was Sellick’s return to form, as the Netflix adventure film featured some of his most stunning motion-capture work to date. The film also tackled relevant themes like social inequity and the prison-industrial complex. Despite the vocal efforts of Jordan Peele and Keegan Michael-Key, Wendell & Wild failed to show up on the nominations list.
7 The Simpsons Movie
Although the first decade of The Simpsons has been heralded as some of the most important works of modern comedy, the series steadily declined in quality as it made its way through the 21st Century. Surprisingly, The Simpsons Movie was a giant uptick in quality that felt reminiscent of the show’s early days. While the film allows each of the beloved Springfield characters to have a few hilarious moments, it retained the heart of the show by focusing on the romance between Homer and Marge. This unfortunately wasn’t enough to get it an Oscar nomination.
6 The Peanuts Movie
There was always going to be a fair amount of skepticism about a new film centered on the Peanuts characters. Not only have there been countless specials over the history of the franchise, but a new animation style could have rubbed fans the wrong way. However, The Peanuts Movie felt like a slice of old-fashioned charm that emphasized why everyone fell in love with Charlie Brown, Linus, Sally, Lucy, Snoopy, and the rest of the gang in the first place. Its omission was unfortunate, as it would’ve been nice to shine a light on a film that exceeded expectations.
5 Team America: World Police
Animated or otherwise, Team America: World Police is one of the funniest movies of the 21st Century. The film proved that Trey Parker and Matt Stone could tell stories outside of the South Park franchise, as they bravely tackled recent political controversies in this explicit puppet comedy. The Oscars had shown their appreciation for Parker and Stone in the past, as South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut received a Best Original Song nomination for “Blame Canada.” However, Team America: World Police was snubbed in both the music and Best Animated Feature categories.
The Academy Awards sure love Disney Princess movies, as both Brave and Frozen walked away as big winners on their respective Oscar nights. Tangled seemed like it would be a sure-fire nominee, as the film’s inventive new spin on the Rapunzel story featured stunning visuals, great musical numbers, and a perfect combination of humor and heart. It felt utterly bizarre that this excellent representation of the genre failed to get an Oscar love.
3 The Adventures of TinTin
Steven Spielberg is one of the most celebrated filmmakers in Oscar history, as he’s received three wins and 22 nominations throughout his career. Spielberg’s incredibly underrated adventure film The Adventures of TinTin was his first animated film, and the incredible motion-capture technology allowed him to create action scenes worthy of the Indiana Jones franchise. The Adventures of TinTin was released the same year as another Spielberg film, War Horse. While War Horse was showered with nominations, The Adventures of TinTin was shut out.
2 Waking Life
In the first year of the Best Animated Feature category’s existence, the Oscars had the chance to recognize Linklater’s experimental arthouse film Waking Life. The seemingly plotless examination of lucid dreaming is one of Linklater’s most ambitious projects, and could have proven that the Best Animated Feature category wasn’t just rewarding family films. Waking Life’s snub is particularly egregious considering that Linklater’s other animated films A Scanner Darkly and Apollo 10 ½ were also shut out.
1 The LEGO Movie
The LEGO Movie was hailed as not just one of the best animated movies of 2014, but one of the best movies period. With its hilarious non-stop gags, catchy songs, satire on consumerism, and heartfelt message about creativity, The LEGO Movie deserved to be the fourth animated film in history to receive a Best Picture nomination after Beauty and the Beast, Up, and Toy Story 3. The fact that it wasn’t even nominated in the Best Animated Feature category was just surreal.