(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.)
The Best Voice Performance category at the 77th Academy Awards was considered something of a letdown. All five nominees came from only two films, and the winner was neither unexpected nor particularly exciting. However, 2005 proved to be a much more diverse year for voice performances. Pixar wouldn’t be releasing a new film, but both Dreamworks and Disney both had new movies to contribute. One film in particular, Madagascar, seemed to be gunning for nominations by recruiting a high profile cast of comedians of who featured prominently in its advertising campaign even before the film was released. However, no one could have predicted the variety and quality of the performances that would eventually earn nominations.
2005 – Nominees for Best Voice Performance in a Motion Picture:
- Johnny Depp (Victor Van Dort) – Corpse Bride
- Frank Oz (Yoda) – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
- Peter Sallis (Wallace) – Wallace & Gromit: the Curse of the Were-Rabbit
- Patrick Warburton (Wolf W. Wolf) – Hoodwinked!
- Robin Williams (Fender Pinwheeler) – Robots
The 2005 race would long be considered the best in the history of the category. Three of the nominees had been nominated before, including two winners in Warburton and Williams. Peter Sallis was nominated for the third time for the same role, this time in the character’s first feature-length film. Frank Oz was already a legend in the voice business from his years of work with Jim Henson, not to mention his earlier performances as Yoda in 4 previous films. Johnny Depp was widely loved as a quirky character actor in his first voice role. The nominated films consisted of computer animation, stop-motion animation and live action, both independent releases and major studio projects. And after all of their campaigning, Madagascar was completely shut out of the competition. For the first time in a while no one knew who might win, and pundits struggled to justify their choices.
Peter Sallis (Wallace) – Wallace & Gromit: the Curse of the Were-Rabbit
While some felt that Sallis’ win was more of a “lifetime achievement award” than due to having the most deserving performance, few could argue with his charm and grace upon winning, not to mention a healthy dose of British humor. He seemed overwhelmed upon taking the stage to actually be winning an Oscar for a role he’d voiced for fifteen years and after an almost sixty year career. The 2005 nominees had returned interest to the Best Voice Performance category, although no one could have expected that the category would go from one of its best slates in one year to one of its weirdest in the next.
What do you think? Who would win from 2005? What other performances should have been nominated? Do you think the category would try to keep things diverse or would it stick to the most well-known films? Should roles from live action movies be included or just animation? Would computer animation have an advantage over stop motion? Who will be nominated from 2006? Let me know in the comments!