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Disney In Depth: Analyzing Disney’s Oscar Wins, Nods, and Snubs
Brett Nachman   |  @   |  

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The 85th annual Academy Awards had its share of unexpected moments and sequences – I’m sure Jennifer Lawrence did not expect to stumble as she walked up the stairs – but for many who appreciate everything Disney, surely it were the wins, losses and outright snubs that may have caused the most surprises.

This edition of Disney In Depth explores what Disney movies should have won, what should have been nominated, and what wins didn’t surprise whatsoever.

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Wreck-It Ralph for Best Animated Feature

I find it quite surprising that Oscar voters selected Disney-Pixar’s Brave for Best Animated Feature. Brave failed to receive as much critical acclaim as the studio’s previous titles, as compared to Wreck-It Ralph, which opened to near-universal praise. Though Brave took home the Golden Globe in the same category, sometimes that win does not translate to Oscar gold. Remember how Cars snagged the Golden Globe, but Happy Feet took home the Oscar? I enjoyed Brave and thought co-director Mark Andrews’ acceptance speech was gold, but the movie stands as one of Pixar’s weakest entries (in terms of consistent storytelling). Yet Ralph boasts an overall well-executed narrative. You determine if this win was warranted.


John Carter for Best Original Score

Though Andrew Stanton‘s live-action debut featured some choppy plot narrative, the film surely works visually and aurally. Perhaps the best element is its electrifying, old Hollywood-style orchestration, as composed by the brilliant Michael Giacchino. This man is a musical genius, and he translated his dynamic drive to the Carter score, containing memorable themes, both intense and melodic. I realize the movie’s stigma may have limited Oscar voters from considering this score, but Carter – easily one of the best soundtracks of 2012 – could have easily stood in any of the category contender spots.

Brave for Best Original Song

I would not call any of the Brave songs as “instant classics,” but Julie Fowlis‘ charming performance for “Touch the Sky” and “Into the Open Air,” with music and lyrics by Alex Mendel, rightfully deserved a nomination or two. Adele definitely deserved her win for Skyfall, but I wonder why neither of these Pixar options found their place on a list with several mediocre melodies.

Wreck-It Ralph for Best Original Screenplay

Most of Pixar’s animated films have been nominated in this category, because they possess cleverness, creativity, and compelling narratives. Without any hesitation, I would argue that Ralph is the best-written product from Walt Disney Animation Studios since The Emperor’s New Groove. Ralph‘s screenplay offers a winning formula that never leans too far sappy nor sarcastic, with jokes a plenty and heart in spades. What a shame that Oscar voters did not feel strongly enough about Ralph, so let us all hope the story for the forthcoming Frozen leaves them breathless – and remembering to mark that movie on their ballots.

Marvel’s The Avengers for Best Sound Editing and Sound Mixing

Usually you would find a bunch of action films nominated in these categories – mainly because many of the high-quality action flicks that support superior audio – but this year that was not the case, save for Skyfall. I quite enjoyed how Avengers sounded crisp and well-edited, but unfortunately Oscar voters did not feel as strongly.


Paperman wins Best Animated Short Film

Can you believe that no Disney animated short film has been nominated in this category since 2006’s The Little Matchgirl – or even more surprisingly that no Disney animated short film has won since 1969’s It’s Tough To Be a Bird? Shocking, considering the Mouse House dominated this category during its early days in the 1930s. However, the animation studio is making a comeback, and Paperman defines the power of this medium in producing top-notch storytelling. Most everyone loved the tale of the hopeless romantic pining for the random woman he meets at the train station. I am one of them and could not be more thrilled with this win.

Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance as Lincoln brings him another Oscar

However Day-Lewis may have reached into his soul to accurately convey Abraham Lincoln’s essence in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln – even if that meant staying in character between filming – that energy must have worked for him. His invigorating role as the nation’s sixteenth president was bound to generate notice. Much more so than Benjamin Walker’s version of the guy as a vampire hunter I’m guessing. Nevertheless, Day-Lewis’ mesmerizing performance proves it sometimes pays to take a risk and portray a figure as big as Lincoln. Luckily for Disney, their distribution of DreamWorks films in recent years has proven an awards boon. Last year, The Help earned four Oscar nods – with Octavia Spencer nabbing Best Supporting Actress – and this year Lincoln achieved 11 Academy Award nominations and took home two (also for Best Production Design).

What do you think should have won, been nominated, or not even been featured as a nomination (and for what categories, of course)? Share your thoughts!

This is Brett Nachman, signing off. Return back to Disney In Depth Thursdays on Geeks of Doom, and be sure to follow me on Twitter for alerts of upcoming editions of the column. Have a good week!


  1. I agree that Wreck-it Ralph should’ve won Best Animated Film. Ralph was far superior to Brave in allspects, save hair. Merida’s hair was a true achievement. Surprised that the fired director was awarded with an Oscar. Is that a first in Academy history?

    Comment by Jason Prugar — March 1, 2013 @ 9:15 am

  2. Yes, Brenda Chapman is credited as co-director and won an Oscar. I’m not sure if that is a first, but there are certainly rare instances where award-winning films have multiple directors.

    Comment by Brett Nachman — March 2, 2013 @ 6:24 pm

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