What if there was a Best Voice Performance Oscar? – 2006

(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.  I’ll cover the hypothetical nominees and winner from one year of animated performances.)

Enthusiasm for voice acting was high following the 78th Academy Awards, which presented the most diverse slate of nominees the category had ever seen, ending in a win for a widely respected performer on his third nomination.  The return of Pixar to the fray with Cars, starring 10-time Oscar nominee Paul Newman helped lend some star power and prestige to the race, while two roles in the same film from Robin Williams assured his presence in any debate about potential nominees.  However with every two steps forward comes another step backwards, and when the nominees were announced they were met with a combination of shock, confusion, and in some cases outrage and the bizarre choices, once again bringing the category’s very existence into question.

2005 – Nominees for Best Voice Performance in a Motion Picture:

  • Larry the Cable Guy (Mater) – Cars
  • Steve Carell (Hammy) – Over the Hedge
  • Bill Nighy (Davy Jones) – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
  • Guido Quaroni (Guido) – Cars
  • Elijah Wood (Mumble) – Happy Feet

The reaction was swift and it was fierce.  People were quick to call out the numerous snubs, and the otherwise bizarre choices by the Academy.  While no one objected to the inclusion of Wood or Nighy, other nominees were met with scorn, derision, and some crazy conspiracy theories.  No one understood how Paul Newman could have been overlooked in favor of a character who can only say one word of English and a goofy sidekick who, bafflingly, was nominated under his stage name rather than his legal name, Daniel Whitney.  And Steve Carell, though popular, was nominated for a film that most people had already forgotten about by the time the Oscars rolled around.  Once again the pendulum of popularity for the category had swung back, and people once again began to call for its removal from the Awards.

Winner:

Steve Carell (Hammy) – Over the Hedge

Carell’s win was met with a general feeling of, “Well, why not?”  He accepted the award with grace and humor, and as such he caught very little of the flack that was still being thrown at the Academy for its choice of nominees.  Viewers agreed at least that his performance was the most memorable part of Over the Hedge.  And critics agreed that one more year of nominees like this might spell the end for a category that had been consistently inconsistent since its inception.

What do you think?  Who would win from 2006?  What other performances should have been nominated?  What was the biggest snub from 2006?  (Any votes for Steve Buscemi from Monster House?)  Would Paul Newman have been guaranteed a nomination simply because of his prestige?  Who will be nominated from 2006?  Let me know in the comments!

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