It’s been a tough year for animation. The Warner Bros. and Discovery merger led to an inordinate number of animated series getting cancelled, including some which were nearly finished with their production. Netflix, too, recently cancelled several high-profile animated projects, including a Gorillaz film. This past year has made it very clear that major production studios consider animation low priority, something to be cut. Thank god for Guillermo del Toro, who took the opportunity of his stop-motion adaptation of Pinocchio winning Best Animated Feature to stick up for the art form. Which, by the way, is not a genre. Just like “live action” is not a genre.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is a gorgeous, incredible film. It was up against beloved films like Turning Red, but it’s hard to argue that Pinocchio doesn’t deserve its Oscar win for Best Animated Feature. I mean, the animation is astonishing, yes. The story is utterly captivating, and I cried. But it also gave us Ewan McGregor’s return to musicals. In the same film that Tom Kenny, the voice of freaking SpongeBob, plays Mussolini and mutters essentially one line: “I like popcorn.” A masterpiece.
del Toro has been celebrated at the Oscars before for his direction of live-action films like Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape of Water. But he’s a huge proponent for and fan of animation. He’s previously spoken out against the industry’s pigeon-holing of animation as something for kids. So he used his precious time during his acceptance speech to stick up for animation in a moment of need.
“Animation is cinema. Animation is not a genre. Animation is ready to be taken to the next step,” del Toro said. “We are all ready for it. Keep animation in the conversation.” Amen to that.
It was an earnest, blunt call to action. And very welcome after the Rock and Emily Blunt’s awkward introduction, in which they did a bit where Blunt just wanted to get a move on, but the Rock wanted to wax poetic on the beauty and craft of animation. The bit didn’t really sell. But whether purposefully or not, Blunt felt like she was embodying Hollywood’s dismissive attitude towards animation.
Animation is not a genre! Animation is a wide-ranging art form that deserves all the funding and respect you can possibly throw to it! What’s “the next step”? Maybe more funding for more ambitious animated films? Maybe even ones for adults? Hell, since 2007, Into the Spider-Verse is the only other instance where the Academy didn’t give Best Animated Feature to a Disney / Pixar film in a decade. If we continue to pigeon-hole animation’s scope or audience, we’ll continue to stifle a lot of moving, brilliant stories.
(Featured image: Getty Images)
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