The Golden Globes are approaching this month and the nominees for Best Animated Picture have been announced: Soul, Wolfwalkers, Over The Moon, Onward, and The Croods: A New Age. Article author Ramin Zahed mentions that Soul, Wolfwalkers, and Over The Moon seem to be the nominations that are gaining the most attention, but there have been other popular movies that have been snubbed for nominations. I’d be happy if any of these top three nominees won and each of these wins would mean something special to the people the films represent. Out of all of the nominees, Soul’s message of finding life’s purpose is more universal and widely relatable.
I haven’t really found much criticism about the Best Animated Feature nominees, but I thought I would respond to these two comments from users of Cartoon Brew: “Other than Wolfwalkers, that’s all CGI American stuff. Where’s the anime? Where’s the French and Eastern European animation?”
“The only real nominees are Soul and Wolfwalkers; the rest is just filler they remembered existed.”
If we look at the history of the Golden Globe nominees, most of them have been 3D projects from major animation studios such as Disney, Pixar, Blue Sky Studios, and so forth and most of the projects are made for younger audiences. A lot of the nominees have been underwhelming, but I agree that it would be great if there was more of a range of films. If we look at animation around the world, there’s so much content that has been created with a range of materials which show many unique perspectives. There are so many films for the public to discover, but I think that how the Hollywood Foreign Press operates is a reason for the lack of variety in the animation nominees.
According to Vox, the voters of the Hollywood Foreign Press consist of around 90 Journalists that write pieces for global publications, but there are specific qualifications to be a member of the HFP. With the small number of voters, it’s almost unpredictable who will win, but members of the HFP have been accused of voting for stars that they favor and that have also interviewed with them. I think that the quality of the content should be judged over connections to huge celebrities. I believe that certain films should be suggested by the public via pole or forum and then the members of the HFP could review the most popular requests. If people are exposed to animation around the world, then there’s a better chance of having more of a variety of animated nominees in the Golden Globes.
On the subject of Wolfwalkers, I adore Cartoon Saloon and I loved the movie with its developed story, brave lead female characters, and beautifully crafted animation. I think it’s a strong contender for the Golden Globes, but I agree with the criticism from Escapist Movies that it does borrow story conventions from American animated features and even themes from previous Cartoon Saloon movies. Tropes like the misunderstood character that others are against (like in Iron Giant, How to Train Your Dragon, ParaNorman, and Brave) and situations where a child’s voice isn’t heard by adults like in previous Cartoon Saloon films (but that problem does make sense in a kid’s world, so I acknowledge my contradiction). I think it’s a movie that is great for female audiences and an award for it would validate Cartoon Saloon’s work and increase their credibility in the mainstream.
With Over the Moon, I will be honest that I wasn’t into the story that much. I think it falls into conventions of movies such as a dead mother, cute pets as sidekicks that don’t do much for the story, and the plot points and conflicts felt convenient. However, while working with a Chinese studio, there was a lot of research and effort put into utilizing Chinese tales and culture in the story and world of the movie. Behind the scenes, Glenn Keane worked closely with many female and Asian staff members as well to create their story about a young girl and her wish to prove to her father that love is eternal. Even though I thought that the story could have been stronger and I didn’t relate to it that much, this movie is important for Chinese and female representation and serve as an inspiration for many young kids and validate their culture.
I think an award for Soul is well deserved in terms of story, but I have heard some complaints about its representation of the black community and plot points from Youtuber Brandee Anderson, so let’s question if Soul really does deserve an award. I understand some of Brandee’s opinions, but I disagree with many of them. Like Princess in the Frog, there was a black character who was not in their physical form for the majority of the film, and this decision is questionable, but Joe maintains his identity. Sure, his mother and Dorothea Williams are rude, but their attitude towards Joe does change. He’s underestimated by Dorothea, but she recognizes his talent. Joe’s mother understands his desire to make himself feel worthy, they come to a sense of agreement, and she helps Joe in the end. When it comes to the body switching, the thing with Pixar is that if you look at their videos about storytelling on Khan Academy, a Pixar film is based around conflict (and this is the case for narrative in general). If Joe was to accomplish something extraordinary in the beginning with everything fine, then the movie would be cut short and there wouldn’t be a lot to explore. Also, Joe does sacrifice himself for 22, but it’s Joe in the end who has to confront his conflicts. He confronts his complicated relationship with his mother, his feelings, and he also learns from 22 and 22 learns from him. It’s not teaching that’s Joe’s spark, the film is about how you approach life that creates it’s meaning for the individual.
Sure, some things could have been better in the movie, but I agree with Youtuber Savage Books/A.K. Savage, that really, Soul just treats Joe as a person and doesn’t really subject his race. Movies about black history and conflict are great to have and help reflect on our world, but I agree that treating Joe as anyone else is something surprisingly different and works for the film. The movie does question what happens once we find some sort of success and I agree that Soul’s meant to reflect on the voids that we feel even if we’ve accomplished something. Life isn’t supposed to be dictated by our achievements, it’s about our approach to life that makes us successful and that we enjoy it in moments. It’s not a situation for one community, it’s something that every human being can relate to.
I’ll reiterate that I would be happy for any of these three leading nominees to win, but I do agree as well that there needs to be more of a variety of types of movies in the Best Animated Feature category. The directors of Soul, Wolfwalkers, and Over the Moon are aware that change needs to happen in their industries. None of these films are perfect, but it is up to us to share our voices and say what we would like to be considered for nominations. Progress in animation will take a long time, but maybe our own content can one day inspire and our own advocacy could help Hollywood progress. The more people share their voices, we can change the way Hollywood has functioned and provide more of a variety of films and award nominees for the mass public. I want to state that this post is just my perspective based on the information I found. If you disagree with me, feel free to tell me why so that we can expand the conversation on my topic. Let’s open the discussion even further.