Spider-Verse Producers Phil Lord & Chris Miller Pen Op-Ed on Oscar Diss of Animated Movies

There was a lot going on during the Academy Awards last weekend. In the wake of the infamous slap, it’s hard to remember much of what else happened during the event, but there was one particular exchange that is finally generating more conversation. When the awards for Best Animated Feature Film was announced, the focus of the presentation was a dig at animation, treating the nominated films as nothing more than entertainment for young children that adults couldn’t stand.

This is a sentiment that has unfortunately been prevalent in Hollywood for quite a long time, dismissing the work and abilities of animation filmmakers. Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who helped push the boundaries of animation by producing Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and The Mitchells vs. the Machines, wrote an op-ed in Variety to talk about the Oscars animation diss and the current treatment of animation in the industry.

“Framing the five Academy Award nominees for best animated feature as a corporate product for kids that parents must begrudgingly endure could be dismissed as simply careless,” Lord and Miller wrote in the piece. “But to those of us who have dedicated our lives to making animated films, that carelessness has become routine. The head of a major animation studio once told an assembly of animators that, if we played our cards right, we would one day ‘graduate to live-action.’ Years later, an exec at another studio said a certain animated movie we made was so enjoyable that it reminded them of ‘a real movie.'”

Lord and Miller go on to point out just how big the role of animation in the entertainment industry actually is. Seven of the 10 most-streamed movies in 2021 were animated, three of which were nominated for Best Animated Feature. Studios have been investing more into animated projects than ever before, but the disrespect of animation has continued.

The filmmakers eventually use the piece to make a suggestion about the Oscars next year. Lord and Miller are suggesting that the Academy finds a different kind of presenter for the Best Animated category.

“Next year, invite a respected filmmaker to present the award and frame animation as cinema,” they wrote. Guillermo del Toro, who produces, directs and deeply appreciates animation, could remind the audience that animation predates cinema, that without the zoetrope, there is no American Zoetrope. Bong Joon Ho could present while explaining why he listed two of this year’s animated feature nominees (Flee and The Mitchells vs. the Machines) among his top 10 favorite movies of the year.

“Mahershala Ali, as compelling a performer in animated films as he is in live-action, could tell the world that animation is not a genre, but a medium that at its best observes and amplifies the nuances of our humanity so that we can see ourselves and ourselves be seen.”

You can read the full piece from Lord and Miller here.


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