(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.
I’ve never had a spot on the anti-Star Wars prequels bandwagon. When The Phantom Menace came out in 1999, I was 14 and a huge Star Wars fan. I was too young at the time to go to a midnight showing, so I had to wait all day to see the film that evening, and I could not sit still. By the time the 20th Century Fox fanfare started playing, I was in tears, and stayed that way through most of the film. I remember everyone in the theater enjoying it immensely, laughing and cheering throughout, and I saw it again two days later. Needless to say, I’m a Star Wars fanboy, and while my 28 viewings of the Star Wars saga films in the theater are not anything close to a record, it’s safe to say that I was in no way disappointed by the prequels.
With the announcement that Disney and Lucasfilm will be making (at minimum) Episodes VII-IX, many people have found themselves revisiting that last Star Wars films that were released, giving the internet new justification for one of its favorite pastimes: prequel bashing. Many of these have been presented as “Lessons J.J. Abrams Can Learn from the Prequels” containing a list of grievances against the film. IGN recently featured an article of this type, and I want to address some of its complaints. I’m going to do my best to set aside my fanboyism because I truly feel that Episodes I-III are great films, and have been unfairly maligned in the last 14 years.