On Your Name’s Oscar snub

The anime community often laments the Oscar’s lack of recognition of anything that doesn’t have the name Ghibli attached to it. However, it’s more jarring this year with Your Name’s snub despite topping the Japanese box office for half a year straight and becoming the country’s fourth highest grossing film of all time.

To be sure it’s an unfortunate snub but not a wholly surprising one. The Academy is a very insular institution. Many voters have probably never heard the name Makoto Shinkai uttered. And frankly the awards, like all award shows, are only representative of the consensus of a group of insiders. And it’s very money-driven. I’d give the equation for the average film towards Oscar consideration to be marketing budget over perceived artfulness equals nomination.

Yet it’s still a disappointment that a film as resounding of a success and as critically lauded as Your Name failed to garner attention this year. For as insignificant as the Oscars might be to me I acknowledge that the mainstream puts a lot of importance on them. They turn people onto movies they might not otherwise watch. I think that can be a good thing but it comes with a big downside: sometimes people will deem movies outside of its nomination pool to be less worthy of their time, or they may never even hear about them.

It’s frustrating to be sure. While I don’t need the Oscars to validate my hobby it would be nice if they could use their platform to showcase auteur directors coming out of other countries. There’s no reason that The Red Turtle should grab the nomination over one of the biggest sensations in recent memory to come out of the world of animation. It really does come down to that Ghibli brand recognition. Funimation just doesn’t have the budget to push through the muck.

I’d be remiss in ignoring the element of stigmatism at play here. Anime in Western culture is vastly misunderstood. It begins and ends with Hayao Miyazaki for most people aware of its existence in the first place. I don’t think any of us are looking for anime to become a huge mainstream phenomenon, I mean it’s arguably not even that in Japan. A greater understanding would be a step in the right direction though and a platform such as the Oscars would be a great starting point.

I think it’s a worthy cause to push the narrative that we want to see our favorite medium garner Oscar buzz but I doubt the anime community is impactful enough to get through to the insular Academy. We are best off remembering that we’ve never needed the uninformed masses to validate our passion for these weird cartoons that come from Japan and thus we don’t need it from some cranky film-industry bozos either. So fight the good fight but don’t be discouraged if nothing comes from it.

Here’s what you can do to get people talking about Your Name and other anime films: push their US screenings! Your Name is being shown in April and we should make sure those seats are filled so that distributors are encouraged to bring more films overseas with larger-scale releases. This is what matters, this is what keeps the Western anime industry healthy. Let’s resolve to grass-roots movements where it truly matters. Word-of-mouth is the best marketing there is because it’s genuine and personal.

13 thoughts on “On Your Name’s Oscar snub

  1. It is quite disappointing but, as you said, no real surprise. Even with all the Ghibli films that were considered, only Spirited Away ever won. The Oscars simply aren’t fair when selecting nominations or winners.

    That said, let the film snobs do what they want. I’ll certainly buy a seat and perhaps go to multiple screenings of “your name” if given the chance. The people here that actually care about anime like Funimation should get the message loud and clear that we want more.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Those are definitely strong movies, even if less to my taste than Your Name. They’re definitely the type that are shoe-ins for the Academy. My real disappointment stems from how if Your Name was an American movie with that level of popularity it too would have been a shoe-in. As I talk about in the post it really comes down to the Academy being quite insular. They only really see what’s relevant at their local theaters and, well, Your Name isn’t getting a wider release here until April.

      Also I think The Boy and The Beast was a 2015 movie iirc

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The Boy and the Beast was 2015, but hit theaters here at the beginning of the year so it qualifies for this Oscar group. It’s like how When Marnie Was There got nominated for the 2016 Academy Awards when it was initially released in 2014.

        I definitely understand what you’re saying. Animation in general gets overlooked by the Oscars. As you said in your post, they don’t need to be nominated, but it would be nice to see it. The Academy definitely does get caught up with what’s around them. It’s an out of sight out of mind type of thing for them so it’s easy to overlook an anime film that isn’t done by Miyazaki.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Right, right. Years mix these days, haha.

        Honestly, my main hope with this post was to get people to the theater in April. It’s too bad Funimation didn’t forgo the week of screenings to try and get it in for the Oscars as it might have had a better chance after wider screenings.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Yeah it only had a week of screenings so it could qualify for the Oscars, and they were all in Los Angeles. I believe only one theater was playing it. Sucks because more people should be exposed to these type of animated movies. I love anime and would love to see a lot more of films specifically from Hosoda and Shinkai get some love here in the states. I’ll be in the theaters for Your Name if it lands up near me. If not then i’ll buy the Blu ray to show support.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Amari Sali

    Ever since I learned that the Academy makes the majority of its budget off the Oscars, I knew to stop taking it serious. They are only going to have 1-2 artsy, really belong in the category, pieces, and everything else is going to be about name recognition. Was this movie popular, were the people in it popular? Who do we think could bring in ratings? Which studio is sure to push their people to talk about their nomination on every talk show and magazine to build up hype?

    That is why I think anime are rarely nominated, no matter how big. The Oscars want those Nielsen numbers and, unfortunately, live stream numbers from overseas still don’t count. So with Your Name being foreign, without a English sub or dub before the Oscars, it got passed over. As for Ghilbi, honestly the only reason those probably get nominated is because they are released by Disney stateside so that is perhaps one of the big reasons their movies are an exception.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely. Profitability is ultimately the deciding factor. While I’m glad to see more diversity in this year’s picks (ironically that still doesn’t include anime) I can’t help but see it as a cynical move to get positive headlines and thus people watching.

      And yeah, the movies picked always straddle that line between what will be popular and what’s actually worthy. Sometimes the movies nominated aren’t ones the general audience will know but if they watched them they’d be safe bets. There’s just no way to do true industry-wide awards that actually promote the best of what’s available because in order to get an audience and recognition you need big production values and to have big production values you need money, hence you need to make a profit.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Amari Sali

        Also, the academy is largely American/Western European. Which is another reason to not really take the whole show seriously. Only, what? One non-English speaking movie for best performance? Really? You are telling me all the movies released around the world and only one qualified?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That too. Again, they’re playing to the climate of their Western audience. Whatever the moment calls for is what will get nominated. At the end of the day it’s a show and nothing more. All that matters is the ratings and they’ve been going down for years so the Academy is willing to do anything and movies outside of its audience’s sphere don’t qualify (not that this is a new development).

        Liked by 2 people

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