Even though live-action films hit theaters first, it didn't take long for animated films to make their debut and give their more realistic forebears a run for their money. From the beginning, studios have consistently released Oscar-worthy animated films, despite the fact no animated movie has ever won an Academy Award for Best Picture. The top animated movies of all time stack up favorably with the best live-action films ever, but they never get the same amount of love come awards season. Up is an animated movie that makes you bawl, but that year's Oscar for Best Picture went to a movie few people saw - why is that?
Whether it's because animated films have difficulty shaking the "for kids" association or because critics just aren't paying attention to more niche animation genres, it's clear animated films have been snubbed on a few occasions. It's time to shed light on the animated films that deserved to win an Oscar for Best Picture the year they were released.
Up is one of the greatest films of all time - animated or not. Unlike most animated films, Up was actually nominated for Best Picture before ultimately losing to The Hurt Locker. Films are supposed to inspire viewers to use their imagination, and there are few films more imaginative than Up. Unlike most movies aimed at kids, Up keeps audiences guessing as to what will happen next. Every scene offers a new surprise, and that's all without mentioning the powerful, wordless montage that opens the film and leaves adults bawling.
The Hurt Locker also tells a remarkable story, but the idea that war destroys has been covered ad nauseam. The film also received some flak for its inaccurate portrayal of how explosives experts work. Up, on the other hand, is wonderfully unique.
The Incredibles is one of the greatest superhero films ever made. Before Marvel started dominating the box office, The Incredibles established and perfected the formula that would make the superhero film one of the most popular genres of the 2010s. It's a nigh-perfect film, full of all the humor and action we've come to expect from the genre - even though it predates the Marvel Cinematic Universe by a solid four years.
Million Dollar Baby, by contrast, is yet another well-made boxing film in the tradition of other great boxing films like Rocky and Raging Bull. Although a female lead adds a new twist to the genre, the classic boxing film formula had been well-established long before Hilary Swank showed up. Million Dollar Baby just isn't nearly as fresh as The Incredibles.
Released in the midst of World War II, Mrs. Miniver is the rare film about a concurrent war. The film wanted to showcase how resilient the British were during World War II, but some of the largest battles of the war hadn't even happened yet, making the movie feel a little quaint and saccharine through today's lens.
On the other hand, Bambi is a fantastical escape from the horrors of World War II. The movie would likely have felt like a relief during a time of such brutality, even though it still manages to deal with adult themes like the passing of a parent and the struggle to survive.
Toy Story is the film that started it all. The first fully computer-generated feature film, Toy Story kicked off Pixar's run of critically acclaimed, box-office-dominating animated films. Toy Story's central premise of toys being alive is so well-told, it still stands as one of the greatest movies ever created.
Braveheart hasn't aged nearly as well. The film itself is solid, but the antics of director and star Mel Gibson have made the film less palatable and harder to support, and the historical revisionism is a bit much for anybody who was hoping it would be accurate. It just can't compete with Toy Story's lasting power and relevance.