(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.)
The arrival of Dreamworks Animation on the scene with the success of Shrek, which won both the inaugural Best Animated Feature award and the Best Voice Performance award at the 74th Oscars, was a turning point for the animated industry. No longer was animation the solely linked to Disney, and the result was an expansion of animation and a greater variety of voice roles for famous actors. However, all of that would be overshadowed in 2002 by one single performance. Andy Serkis’s portrayal of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers was energizing for the industry and immediately led to calls for a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his work in the film, in spite of the fact that the performance used a combination of animation and motion capture instead of the actor actually appearing in the film. It was a foregone conclusion for many that he would automatically receive a nomination in the Best Voice Performance category.
2002 – Nominees for Best Voice Performance in a Motion Picture:
- Daveigh Chase (Lilo) – Lilo & Stitch
- Daveigh Chase (Chihiro) – Spirited Away
- John Leguizamo (Sid) – Ice Age
- Ray Romano (Manny) – Ice Age
- Chris Sanders (Stitch) – Lilo & Stitch
When the nominations were announced, and Serkis was not nominated in either category, there was a fair amount of outrage. Most who objected claimed that the motion capture performance was too animated for one category and not animated enough for another. Instead, 12 year old Daveigh Chase became the youngest nominee ever in the Best Voice Performance category, and the first double nominee since Robin Williams in the award’s first year. Chris Sanders, who wrote and directed Lilo & Stitch said he was proud of Chase for her nominations, but confused as to how he could have been included for voicing a character with very few lines in English. Ice Age was considered to be the frontrunner, with a duel between Romano and Leguizamo to mirror the duel between Mike Meyers and Eddie Murphy from the previous year.
Chris Sanders (Stitch) – Lilo & Stitch
There were a fair amount of surprised gasps when Sanders’ name was read out, but the upset was overshadowed in the years to come by the omission of Andy Serkis. After the Oscars the debate immediately turned to whether the Academy would alter their stance on motion capture work given the knowledge that Serkis would be repeating his performance in The Return of the King. However, what the debate over Gollum failed to realize is that even if nominated Serkis would face stiff competition from Pixar’s next big film.
What do you think? Would you have nominated Andy Serkis in the Best Voice Performance category, or should motion/performance capture be excluded? What decision do you think the Academy would have made? Who would have won of these 5 nominees? Who do you think will be nominated from 2003?