Animated movies: not just for children


Will Hanson

Popular animated movies like “Raya and the Last Dragon,” “Inside Out” and “Up” were popular amongst adults as well as children. “Up” is one of three animated movies to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

A reoccurring pattern of opinions was seen during the 94th Academy Awards. Many presenters at the award ceremony, such as Amy Schumer, Halle Bailey, Lily James and Naomi Scott suggested that animation is best enjoyed by children while adults simply had to put up with it. However, the idea that animation is meant for kids is not true.

Looking at some of the animated films and shorts for this year’s Academy Awards shows that animation can be meant for mature audiences as well. “Flee,” an animated documentary that was nominated for several categories including Best Animated Feature and Best Documentary Feature, covers the story of a refugee fleeing Afghanistan.

The film depicts a powerful message that may not be best suited for children and makes use of animation to do so. Even though “Flee” did not win Best Animated Feature, joking that animation is meant for children insults “Flee” and other animated movies aimed at adults by implying that they would not win since children do not watch them.

An animated movie may be meant for children but that does not mean that adults cannot relate to the content. This can best be seen with “Encanto,” this past winner for Best Animated Feature. “Encanto” may be presented in a way targeted toward children but covers the effect that generational trauma has on families. Generation is in the name “generational trauma” so, of course, the message is likely to apply to multiple generations.

Animation has been looked down upon during previous Academy Awards before and after the introduction of Best Animated Feature in 2001. This is shown simply through nominations. Before the Best Animated Feature category was added, animated films were typically given honorary mentions with only 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast” receiving a nomination for Best Picture.

Only two other films, “Up” and “Toy Story 3,” have been nominated for Best Picture since 2001. It has been rumored that Best Animated Feature was added as a category to ensure that an animated film does not win Best Picture.

Putting animation solely in its own category implies that it is a genre when it is actually a medium. Animation is not the story but rather the tool used to show it. It can look different depending on the method, such as the difference between stop motion and computer animation. Some films can even utilize multiple forms of animation such as “The Mitchells vs. The Machines”, another candidate for Best Animated Feature that used a combination of illustrations and computer-generated images.

Animators saw the comments made at the Academy Awards as an old insult, pointing out that animation for mature audiences does exist. Phil Lord, a producer for “The Mitchells vs. The Machines”, stands against the comments made as indicated on his Twitter, sarcastically remarking, “super cool to position animation as something that kids watch and adults have to endure.”

Director Albert Mielgo said it best during his acceptance speech for “The Windshield Wiper”, the winner of Best Animated Short following a man’s journey to find out what love actually is: “Animation for adults is a fact. It’s happening. Let’s call it cinema.”

It is time to stop looking down on animation and acknowledge that it is a medium meant to tell a story, just as every other film nominated at the Academy Awards.