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I was on a podcast recently talking about what the award season looks like for animation. One of the companies that came up with just a brief mention was DreamWorks. We discussed how it really doesn’t have a leg in the race this award season with two films that aren’t all that stellar. When you are competing against heavyweights like Belle, Encanto, Luca, Where’s Anne Frank, Flee, and Summit of The Gods and all you have is Spirit Untamed and Boss Baby: Family Business, well, that doesn’t look great.
Now, some may argue that it is possible, due to how the first film was nominated for Best Animated Feature, and it was a financial success that spawned a Netflix series and the sequel. Yes, there is a chance for it to maybe slide in and get a nomination here or there, but in the grand scheme of things, Boss Baby: Family Business will not be nominated. It has a lot of elements to love about it, but it’s a film that would have maybe done better in a weaker year than this one. A lot of people seem to think just because one film made it, it means the sequel will make it when that isn’t always the case.
What many seem to forget is everything around a film’s release matters. It’s important to know what the time period is, the political climate, the release window, what else was getting released during or around that time, what kind of year was it for animation and film, and what have you. I know many will groan at that listing of things that can and will absolutely affect a film’s release, but I don’t know what else to tell you.All you can do is to get over it. You do need to take in what was going on at the time, so let’s break it down bit by bit.
First up, the theatrical animation climate for 2017 was a vastly different climate than what we were dealing with back in 2016, which many would argue was an incredible year for animation. 2017 on the other hand was sparse and mostly filled with US-based animated features that were middling to lackluster with a few that were really good. This was the year we got The LEGO Batman Movie, Despicable Me 3, Cars 3, The Nut Job 2, The Emoji Movie, Ferdinand, Coco, The LEGO Ninjago Movie, Smurfs: The Lost Village, and you get the idea. If you wanted your art intake, then you had a much better time following what was getting released by the likes of GKIDS, Elevenarts, and other distributors that year. That way, if you felt burnt out from the US animation scene, you could watch films like Mary and The Witch’s Flower, A Silent Voice, In This Corner of The World, The Breadwinner, Loving Vincent, Window Horses, Birdboy and The Forgotten Children, and The Girl Without Hands.
With that out of the way, you know what also happened in 2017? You can probably guess what happened since what happened in 2017 was a result of something that happened in 2016. Due to that world-changing event, shows like SNL decided to parody the infamous person of interest by having Alec Baldwin play him in skits making fun of the person in question. As you can tell, due to a multitude of events that are political and entertainment-based, the fact there was a movie about a baby who may or may not be inspired by a multitude of characters fictional or real voiced by the guy doing the impression of the president at the time, well, it was going to have some kind of appeal.
With the US-based animation scene feeling a touch lackluster, the academy and most award season groups were allergic to overseas animated fare. The one film that, while not the most critically well-received, was part of the pop culture zeitgeist for the year, so it’s not a surprise that the film was nominated. Online film fans and snobs constantly talk about how award shows should nominate the “best” but also, the most important films to that year. That means that a film like The Boss Baby, in the world of animation and film in 2017, is important. It sure does sound like your brain is going to explode with thinking that, but talking about the most influential animated films means including films like Despicable Me, Minions, Hotel Transylvania, The LEGO Movie, and you get the idea.
Context is everything, and now we must ask the question about the sequel. Normally, since the first film was nominated, that would mean the second film surely has a chance, right? Since this editorial doesn’t need to be longer, let’s break down why Boss Baby: Family Business will not be nominated.
1. Too much competition from other studio distributors like Disney, Pixar, Netflix, Sony, GKIDS, and Neon.
2. It wasn’t received that much better than the last film.
3. It very much left the pop culture zeitgeist as quickly as it arrived.
4. Did you remember there was a Boss Baby sequel this year?
While there were plenty of other films that were worthy of being chosen in 2017 for the Oscars, looking back at everything going on during that chaotic year, it’s not a real surprise it was chosen. Even if the Academy wasn’t allergic to all foreign animation, what other US animated film would you have chosen? Cars 3? I doubt it. Despicable Me 3? It made a billion, but Illumination was never in the running for awards. What about the two LEGO Movies? They were pretty neglectful of the first one, and there was no changing that fact with the voters. So, you either go with the films that were chosen or you risk the academy choosing lesser films. You COULD pray to whoever will listen for the other foreign features, which they won’t do unless they make a huge splash or were festival favorites. At the end of the day, award shows don’t truly show our personal preferences of what we find to be the best films of the year, and you should like whatever you want. Just know that sometimes, the most important films of every year, or what you would consider important, are not the most acclaimed films of any given year.
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