In short, the nominations for this category have up until now been voted on by an equal mix of members of The Short And Animated Features branch (ie people who work in animation) and general Academy members with an animation connection. This mix has meant that the nominations list has been pleasingly varied over recent years and seen a large number of independent and international titles make the shortlist (to inevitably lose out to the latest Disney or Pixar behemoth). Apparently, some people don't think this is a good thing- presumably companies like DreamWorks Animation and Illumination whose box-office success hasn't translated into Awards season love. Instead, the committee that makes the decisions will now be made up of members of all branches of the Academy.
This is potentially disastrous and may have killed any relevance that the Category still had for animation fans. There's been dissatisfaction with the fact that the Disney corporation (through Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar alike) has dominated the category over recent years. This will only make it worse.
We know that the Academy at large does not care about animation. If they don't care about animation from the major studios, they sure as hell aren't going to care about the latest gem from an independent studio or a smaller distributor like GKIDS. Under these new rules, it's hard to imagine a film like Boy And The World, Song Of The Sea or The Red Turtle standing a chance of a nomination let alone a win. But this seems to be what they are hoping for.
It's rank hypocrisy too- it's hardly as if the latest Marvel or Star Wars film is competing for Best Picture. Instead, they reward prestige pictures over box-office successes, so why should animation be any different? It shows how the film community as a whole continues not to take animation seriously.
Say what you want about the category in the past, but it has a record of giving some beautiful animated films wider exposure than they would have had otherwise. This misguided move may be designed to protect Hollywood's interests but it's bad for animation as a whole- and for fans.
Say goodbye to films like My Life As A Courgette, The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya or Secret Of Kells. Say hello to the words "The Oscar Nominated Emoji Move*" I don't know about you guys, but I feel like something's been lost here.
Let us know what you think in the comments or via our social media channels.
*Disclaimer: I obviously haven't seen The Emoji Movie. I mean, it could turn out to be awesome. Unlikely perhaps, but possible,