(Note: This is a fictional creative thinking 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.)
Following the nomination for Andy Serkis at the 76th Academy Awards, audiences looked ahead to 2004 for any other motion capture performances that might also earn a slot among the Best Voice Performance nominees. However, the only potential candidate turned out to be The Polar Express, which most insiders felt did not produce performances worthy of nomination. Instead, discussion focused on a potential Disney/Dreamworks rematch, with a sequel to the film that put Dreamworks on the map and another new film from them on one side and a new traditionally animated film from Disney and the latest Pixar film on the other.
2004 – Nominees for Best Voice Performance in a Motion Picture:
- Antonio Banderas (Puss in Boots) – Shrek 2
- Jason Lee (Buddy Pine/Syndrome) – The Incredibles
- Mike Meyers (Shrek) – Shrek 2
- Eddie Murphy (Donkey) – Shrek 2
- Craig T. Nelson (Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible) – The Incredibles
Despite four major films that could have produced nominees only two were nominated, with Home on the Range (a massive flop) and Shark Tale (which was also nominated for Best Animated Feature) left out. The repeat nominations for Meyers and Murphy garnered a huge amount of press, as many felt that Shrek 2 was even better than the massively successful previous film, which was thought to give the edge to the pair. On the other hand, The Incredibles was considered to be one of the most mature animated films in history, with a darker and deeper side beneath the comedy and action, and was thought to be the frontrunner for the Best Animated Feature award. The question was whether the Academy would choose a comedic performance, perhaps giving Eddie Murphy a second Oscar for the role of Donkey, or something more rounded like Craig T. Nelson’s weary superhero. Through all of this, Antonio Banderas remained the wild card and a potential upset with perhaps the most popular character of the nominees.
Mike Meyers (Shrek) – Shrek 2
While viewers felt that Meyers’ performance was award worthy, his win was generally met with shrugs. The general consensus was that the Academy had made the “safe” pick, and that perhaps the category had become a bit predictable. There was also a segment of movie fans who felt like Banderas had been robbed. Regardless of the awards for this particular year, the hope for 2005 was that the nominees would at least be more interesting and varied following several years of mainstream choices. No one could have guessed, however, that their hopes would come true and that 2005 would produce the most diverse slate of nominees yet.
What do you think? Who would win from 2004? What other performances should have been nominated? Could you see the Academy falling into a rut with its nominees, choosing only the most obvious performances and films? Who will be nominated from 2005? Let me know in the comments!