Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, which currently stands as the highest-grossing anime movie of all time and one of the most critically-acclaimed movies of its kind, has been snubbed at the 2017 Academy Awards. After garnering numerous awards including the 2016 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards for Best Animated Film, there was serious buzz that Your Name would eventually make it to the 2017 Oscars. Alas, it seems like anime fans worldwide would need to wait a bit more before another Spirited Away takes home the Academy Awards’ Best Animated Feature title.
Your Name, released in the second half of 2016 in Japan, was an immediate local hit, dominating Japanese cinemas across the Asian country for multiple weeks. Anime-themed website Kotaku stated that Your Name steadily continued to earn massive ticket sales, eventually overtaking Hayao Miyazaki’s Academy Award-winning anime film, Spirited Away. Shinkai’s anime film was not just a success in Japan, however, as the film continued to garner numerous awards abroad. The beautifully-animated film was a critical success, earning a very admirable 97 percent rating on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes and an 80 out of 100 normalized rating on Metacritic.
Considering that Your Name currently has over a dozen awards worldwide, anime fans all over the world have begun speculating that the critically-acclaimed film would make it to this year’s Academy Awards. Unfortunately, a Rocket News 24 report stated that the highest-grossing anime movie of all time has been left out of the nominations for the Best Animated feature category, with the Academy selecting Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, Zootopia, The Red Turtle and My Life as a Zucchini for the nominees. The absence of Your Name in the list is palpable, and thus, here are three possible reasons why the high-profile anime was snubbed its rightful place in the 2017 Oscars.
The Academy Just Doesn’t Connect With Anime
Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away might have won the Oscars for Best Animated Feature back in 2002, but history is simply not on Your Name‘s side. Save for Miyazaki’s masterpiece, very rarely does an anime film get considered for the award, and it is even more rare to find them actually winning in their respective categories. Your Name is undoubtedly a breathtaking, heartfelt anime film that strikes the right emotional chords with its viewers. However, it seems like once again, the anime film simply does not match the preferences of the Academy.
Looking at the films that were nominated, it is quite evident that the Academy Awards’ nominating body simply did not connect with Your Name. Moana and Zootopia are both high-budget CGI masterpieces from the world’s premiere animation studio, Kubo and the Two Strings and My Life as a Zucchini are both very artistic in terms of their animation style and The Red Turtle is simply unique in its almost dialogue-less approach to its narrative. Thus, while a beautiful film, Your Name has unfortunately found itself in an awkward middle ground, being equal parts conventional anime and artistic film.
The Academy Is Extremely Friendly With Mainstream Films
The voting body of the Academy Awards has been notoriously centered on Western films lately. Back in 2015 alone, a report by The Hollywood reporter featuring an actual Oscar ballot incited numerous negative reactions from the animated film industry. In the article, the Academy Award member lamented that The Lego Movie was snubbed over the Japanese film The Tale of Princess Kaguya and the Irish film Song of the Sea, stating that the two non-American films were (and we’re quoting verbatim here) “two obscure freakin’ Chinese f****n’ things that nobody ever freakin’ saw.”
With Academy composed of members such as the one featured in The Hollywood Reporter report, it is quite unsurprising that Your Name, which, as an anime, is very traditional as it is groundbreaking, would receive an Oscar snub. While there are members of the Academy that no doubt enjoy a good dose of anime, the vast majority of the organization’s members appear to be a bit xenophobic when it comes to the Best Animated Feature category.
Your Name‘s Handlers Miscalculated Its Western Release
While the Academy could be blamed for much of Your Name‘s 2017 Oscars snub, the distributors of the film are also partly to blame. It did get a limited release in the United States, but it had such a short run that only a select few were able to see the critically-acclaimed movie. Numerous anime fans have even noted that the movie’s handlers could have submitted Your Name for the Foreign Language category instead. After all, the timeline for the Academy’s Foreign Language category fits a lot better for films like Your Name, which are released on rather unconventional timetables.
The Academy Awards are, in a lot of ways, a pretty democratic process. If the organization’s voters were not able to see a movie, there is almost no chance of it getting selected for a nomination. Considering the awards that Your Name barely made the 2016 cut, it is not that surprising that it was left out of this year’s Oscars.
It is quite unfortunate that a masterfully-created anime film such as Your Name was left out of cinema’s most prestigious nomination. While the Academy itself is to blame for being quite biased towards Western animation at some point, a number of unfortunate events with regards to Your Name‘s release in the West are also partly to blame. Despite the massive Oscars snub, however, the fact still remains that Your Name is, and would always be, one of the best animated movies to ever come out of Japan in recent years.
[Featured Image by Toho Animation]