(Note: This is a fictional creative writing exercise, inspired by hours of contemplation of which animated performances have been most worthy of attention over the years. This feature imagines that a Best Voice Performance category was added to the Oscars following Beauty and the Beast’s nomination for Best Picture at the 64th Academy Awards. Each week I’ll cover the hypothetical nominees and winner from one year of animated performances.)
After a disappointing slate of nominees at the 66th Academy Awards, the speculation was that another year of mediocre nominees would doom the category once and for all. Fortunately, there was a savior on the horizon, in the form of another big release from Disney, The Lion King. It was even speculated that the film could take all five of the nomination slots, given the strength of its casting, its popularity and yet another dearth of competition. Even if The Lion King ended up with all of the nominations, it was already predicted that the film’s mere presence would be enough to grant the category a stay of execution for at least another year.
1994 – Nominees for Best Voice Performance in a Motion Picture:
- Whoopi Goldberg (Fantasy) – The Pagemaster
- Robert Guillaume (Rafiki) – The Lion King
- Jeremy Irons (Scar) – The Lion King
- James Earl Jones (Mufasa) – The Lion King
- Nathan Lane (Timon) – The Lion King
No one was quite sure how Whoopi Goldberg’s performance in The Pagemaster ended up among the nominees, considering that the film, a live-action and animation combo, was a critical and commercial bomb. It was especially strange considering that Goldberg also had a role in The Lion King, for which she could have been nominated. It was put down as a fluke of the nominating process and dismissed. As forThe Lion King, all of the nominations were considered worthy, but again the issue was raised of supporting roles being nominated over lead roles. The fact that the main characters in the film were played by different actors at different ages, while the supporting characters had one actor for the entire film, offered a reasonable explanation for this, however.
Jeremy Irons (Scar) – The Lion King
Jeremy Irons, in his acceptance speech, praised the film’s Shakespearean roots as well as Disney’s willingness to go a bit dark with their films. It was noted by film analysts that the performances in The Lion King were more emotional than had been seen in the previous years, giving the characters more depth than audiences were used to. It was unknown whether this trend would continue in the years to come, or whether animation would revert back to the “kids’ movies” that many people still viewed them as. What no one anticipated, however, was the success of a new kind of animated film before next year’s ceremony, ushering in the era of computer animation for good.
What do you think? Which performance from The Lion King stands out to you the most? Does it seem like the characters in that film have more depth of emotion to them than some of its predecessors? Am I the only one who remembers The Pagemaster? Let me know in the comments!