Animated feature films have long been on the rise in popularity and in quality, especially in terms of technological advancements and creativity that have given us some of the best films of the last few years.

A week on from the Oscars, films like Across The Spiderverse and The Boy and The Heron prove that animation has a place amongst the Best Picture Category. In this article, I’ll explain why animation should be given more Academy recognition and the positive impact it could have for the awards going forward.

Animated Films & The Academy Awards

Animated films were relatively new coming into the Academy Awards, and with Walt Disney Animation being the most prominent studio putting out animated feature films, there wasn’t much competition between studios.

The category for Best Animated Feature Film was only introduced in 2001 where Shrek became it’s first winner. It’s hard to believe, considering Disney had already doled out dozens of classics for consideration, with Beauty and The Beast becoming the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture.

Spirited Away (2001) – source: Too

Since the introduction of Best Animated Feature only two other animated films have ever been nominated for Best Picture, both of which were Disney/Pixar films (Up and Toy Story 3).

Voting Within The Academy

Diversity of the voting members within the Academy has long been an issue that still needs to be improved on. Thankfully some progress has been made to include more female nominees in it’s selection, and racial diversity has improved over the last few years. Despite that the voting body definitely reflects what is chosen.

For those who don’t know, Academy Award winners are decided on by the voting body who are made up of members from all across the film industry. This includes actors, directors, cinematographers, editors, animators and more.

Up (2009) – source: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

In terms of Best Picture, preferential voting is used to decide the winner and everyone from every branch can vote. So yes, while animated films are absolutely eligible for Best Picture, it could also be the case that there are fewer members of the Academy linked to the animation industry and movies that could be considered fall through the cracks.

Animation Isn’t Just For Kids

The last few years have only made it more evident that animation isn’t just for kids. In fact, shows like Arcane and Blue Eye Samurai prove that with the right story, there is a huge amount of potential in animation. Even animated films like Shrek or How To Train Your Dragon are only classics today because they managed to cater to a wider audience than just children.

This years Best Animated Feature winner The Boy and The Heron is one of Studio Ghibli’s darker films. In fact, a lot of Studio Ghibli films touch on heavy topics that adults are more likely to resonate with.

 The Boy and The Heron has a focus on coming of age while dealing with grief in a world already full of conflict. While much of the story is told with a lot of metaphorical imagery, it’s definitely not meant for a younger audience in the way that My Neighbor Totoro is.

Spider-Man: Across The Spiderverse (2023) – source: Sony Pictures Releasing

Spirited Away is widely considered one of the greatest films of all time, so surely that warrants recognition in the Best Picture Category?

While the target audience might be younger, Spider-Man: Across The Spiderverse delves deeper into topics of grief and the complexities of family relationships. Miles’ coming-of-age story is one that many of us can relate to, not just kids.

Pixar has long been releasing films that are for a universal audience. Inside Out is a beautiful example of that, as well as Soul, Up and Coco. The sooner the Academy recognizes the potential animation has, the better.

In the end, the beauty of cinema is that its’ completely subjective. For every 10 Academy members who love a film, there are a handful that don’t. However, to brush off animation as a medium that’s simply for kids and not for adults is looking down on some of the most beautiful examples of filmmaking you’ll ever see.


It’s no secret that the Academy Awards has struggled with viewership over the last few years. Ratings rose slightly this year, most likely because of how Barbie and Oppenheimer dominated the last year of cinema.

Shrek (2001) – source: DreamWorks Pictures

As someone who’s been following the Oscars since high school, it’s been refreshing to see the Academy slowly lean towards blockbuster entries that a lot of people have been able to watch. Barbie and Oppenheimer were summer blockbusters, and past nominees like Black Panther prove that it’s possible for popular big budget films to be successful at the awards.

In this case, I think it that including animated films in more categories will only encourage more people to watch as well as making the Oscars race more competitive and diverse for those following it.

New Categories

The Academy has already announced that starting in 2026, outstanding achievement in casting will be recognized as an award at the Academy Awards. It’s clear that there’s a long way to go to achieve an awards ceremony that is more inclusive and embraces the aspects of cinema that have gone unrecognized for far too long.

Of course, it’s great to imagine a ceremony where everything is recognized. Logistically that might not be possible, but the Academy can certainly make some improvements. While it might take longer than we want, I hope that in the years to come we have an Academy Awards that shows the true range of cinema.

What animated film do you think should have been nominated for Best Picture? Let us know in the comments!

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