Since Into the Spider-Verse, the landscape of American studio animation has changed radically, as studios allow for more experimentation with visuals and storytelling on large budgets. But for the most part, Disney has only deviated minimally from its formula in the past couple of years, while other studios have gone beyond that.
However, Disney’s loss is the industry’s win. Last year saw one of the best lineups of nominees in the category’s 23-year history, with studio films like “Turning Red” and “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” providing unique experiences within the studio’s big constraints, while “Marcel” The Shell with Shoes On” and del Toro’s “Pinocchio” showed the power of animation to challenge what could be done in terms of stories, but also in terms of craft and visuals.
This year, Disney’s lack of a nomination allowed “Nimona,” once a Disney release, to receive a nomination, making it the first animated film with an openly gay main character. There’s also “Robot Dreams,” a cheerful indie film about friendship, a rare candidate without a huge budget, a world full of genres, or a lot of visual effects.
The film industry is primarily a business. If Disney stops seeing its animated films turn into commercial and award-winning successes, it may finally push the studio to shake up its tired formula and embrace the animation revolution. Meanwhile, other films — both studio and independent — are enjoying time in the spotlight, allowing different visions and approaches to be highlighted on the biggest stages. This is only a positive thing for the medium.
Film editor Ben Pearson talked a little about this on today’s episode of the /Film Daily podcast, which you can listen to below: