The Lego Movie Oscars Snub Is Garbage

The Lego Movie Oscars Snub Is Garbage

This morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — an institution that in March of 1995 declared Forrest Gump to be a superior film to Pulp Fiction, Shawshank Redemption and Quiz Show (Quiz Show!) — has decided that The Lego Movie, which was animated for the most part by Australian studio Animal Logic, is not one of the five best animated movies of last year. This is not a snub. This is a brickin' joke.

It is possible to conceive of a world in which The Lego Movie was not one of the best movies (animated, live action, documentary, fever-dreamt) of 2014. I'll concede that. It's hard to put gentle goofiness up against the first truly great MLK Jr. biopic and Bradley Cooper... murdering the shit out of people? Sure! That sounds good too. No Lego Best Picture nom is fine.

But to put The Lego Movie up against other pieces of gentle goofiness and decide that its gentle goofiness is of an inferior quality, to cast it aside in favour of a movie dedicated to a young man who apparently has still not sufficiently trained his dragon despite all evidence to the contrary (and not even to get into the issues surrounding dragon subjugation in the first place), is absurd. How could this have happened?

Let's start with the premise that there is anything objectively bad about The Lego Movie. Surely there must be? Of the 221 reviews listed on Rotten Tomatoes, 9 are negative, and the 4.1 per cent are fairly consistent in their critiques. Ed Whitfield of something called The Ooh Tray deemed it "the greatest commercial ever made", which was meant as an insult but I'm not sure really is one, even if you accept the premise, which I don't, because the only thing The Lego Movie sold me is whimsy and Will Arnett's Batman viability. The New York Daily News and Reel Film Reviews both found it "exhausting," which I read as "too much fun, we want less fun next time." And the others are a hodgepodge of that same misguided crankiness. I dismiss them all in full, and you should to. The Lego Movie is pure joy distilled and then infused into a billion bricks.

But! Maybe, despite The Lego Movie's unquestionable excellence, there were five animated movies this year that were even more unquestionably excellent? Perhaps it's just The Lego Movie's rotten luck that the animated equivalents of Laurence of Arabia, Citizen Kane and Ben Hur were all released in 2014? Or maybe they just nominated Frozen again five times? Let's take a look!

The Boxtrolls

A technologically innovative movie that has some heart. Which sounds a lot like The Lego Movie except with trolls that live in boxes (or wear them as... clothes?) instead of awesome Lego people.

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Remember the hijinks a boy and his dragon got into a couple of years ago? Here are more hijinks. And more dragons.

Song of the Sea

No idea. Probably good? It's DEFINITELY Irish. Guessing it could have used more Lego.

The Tale of the Princess Kayuga

Not thaaaat interested in irate emails from Studio Ghibli fans so let's just say this looks magical, sure.

Big Hero 6

A technologically innovative movie that has some heart. Which sounds a lot like The Lego Movie except with obscure robots instead of awesome Lego people.

All of these movies either are or seem perfectly OK and good. But to choose them and to ignore the most commercially, artistically and technologically viable animated film of not just last year but the last several years is unfathomable. I can't fathom it. There's no fathoming to be done. We are all fathomless.

Ultimately it's fine, of course. Everything is still awesome, despite the MPAA's bafflement. The Lego Movie doesn't need any more validation than it's already gotten. And even if it did, as co-director Philip Lord made clear, it can find that in itself.

Which is really what makes Lego special in the first place.


Comments

    So eloquently put. The Lego Movie was a rollicking good time and everyone I've shown it to (I had to get it on BluRay as soon as it was released), even the ones who had said "I'm not watching some kids movie" absolutely loved it.
    I guess the academy is more focused on the artist merit of each nomination, and not the primary purpose of film making itself - story telling and entertainment.

      I think you'll find that the primary purpose of most films made is money. Greed, pure and simple. Story telling and entertainment are the occasional by-products of this greed.

        True - though the Oscars are meant to be an awards by their peers for cinematic excellence.

        Plus, almost everything is about making money, else it would be called charity or a hobby. It's just a shame that for most mainstream movies there is a large, faceless corporation squeezing for as much profit as possible.

    Just because you enjoy a film doesn't mean that it should automatically fit the criteria for an award managed by someone else.

    The Lego Movie was a perfectly good film for an 8 year old. It was clever, had an easily understood protagonist, and a good twist. Also, loads of lights and flashing colours. But let's be honest, it was no Pulp Fiction, and the movies shortlisted for this Oscar (except Song of the Sea, never seen that) were downright better than it.

    Just like it's ADHD stylistic merit, The Lego Movie was destined to be a (very, very fun) flash in the pan...

      Yeah sounds like sob story because his favourite movie didn't make it

    I think the reason it didnt get a nomination is because it's not entirely animated. For a movie to be nominated for best animated movie, it needs to be 100% animated - but the lego movie had about 5-6 minutes of live action. Dont get me wrong, it's an awesome movie, but I completely understand their point of view.

      Also isn't it pretty common for movies that get released around the same time as the LEGO movie to usually miss out simply by being so long ago that no one remembers?

      It is eligible; it just needs to have 75% of the running time including animation, as well as a significant number of the major characters animated.

      I think the reason it didn't get nominated was they made Emmet the central character.

      Had it been Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Chairman Mao or Alexander the Great they'd have got 8 nominations.

        What they should have done, was re-make Crash, but with Lego.

      Yes not totally animated so therefore probably why dismissed...but the film definitely hit the market successfully with a whopping big audiences worldwide. We love u team lego

    I was pretty mad to hear about the snub until I saw what it was up against. Boxtrolls? Another superb movie from that studio. How to Train Your Dragon 2? Another great sequel from Dreamworks. The Tale of Princess Kaguya? Another gorgeous Ghibli swan song from the director of the Grave of the Fireflies (and it's especially sad how the studio's future is up in the air with their two best directors retiring). The only one I really feel doesn't belong on there is Big Hero 6. I feel it only gets nominated because it's a Disney film, and in reality, Disney could have done a lot better with it.

    How to train your dragon 2 got in but not The Lego Movie? That just seems wrong. I guess everything is /not/ awesome.

    Kayuga will win so the Academy can do the whole Ghibli appreciation thing, show a montage of Ghibli movies over the years. Everyone can laugh, cry and applaud as memories are brought back of their childhood and everyone will think "yes yes, a deserving win".

    But in reality... No one knows what Kayuga is. It is no where near Ghiblis best effort.
    Personally, although I appreciate the hand painted water colour style, I think its the worst looking animation they have done.
    My kids tell me it's boring. They have watched Ghibli movies over and over. Ponyo, Spirited, Totoro, Mononoke, Cats... over and over...
    Kayuga... boring. I'd tried, they can't sit through it.

    Lego movie... over and over...

    Last edited 16/01/15 9:31 am

      I'm really not sure about that. Most likely it'll depend whether Dreamworks or Disney has paid more bribes. Additionally, Disney has two horses in the race since Big Hero 6 is theirs as well, and they're far more likely to pay for that to win. Plus the simple fact is that the academy members doing the voting will mainly only vote for films they've had a chance to see, and Kaguya's cinema release wasn't that wide. It was just enough that they could qualify for nomination, really. Just like The Wind Rises was only nominated.

      Kaguya might win, but if it does it won't specifically be because of Ghibli, but because they've never given a nod to Takahata's work before. He's the more arthouse director of the two Ghibli mainstays and produces their more interesting and artistic films. He's 79 now and while he hasn't officially retired, this is probably his last film, especially with Ghibli's future as a studio in doubt.

      Not surprised kids would find the film boring, because it's not really a kids film. Neither are most of his other Ghibli films - I expect they'd find Only Yesterday even more boring, but it's one of the finest films the studio ever made, and Grave of the Fireflies is definitely not a film for children.

      As for what the film is, it's an adaption of an extremely old Japanese fairy tale, but with a slant around the struggle of a girl growing up under societal and parental expectations that she behaves a way contrary to her own nature. There's some strong feminist undertones to it and that probably will also make it go over well.

      It's also got a chance to win because of the artwork. I personally am not a huge fan of the style either, but in a medium dominated by CG, that messy watercolor and thick brush strokes look is quite unique and striking.

      Disagree. Kaguya is Ghibli's best effort in years. And it's not really a movie for children.

    Now I know profit is not what makes a movie good by anyone standards, but it is a small indication.

    618 - How to Train Your Dragon 2
    468 - The Lego Movie
    409 -Big Hero 6
    108 - Box trolls
    .1 - Song of the Sea
    ? - The Tale of the Princess Kayuga

    Just saying

    Last edited 16/01/15 9:35 am

    Dragon 2? give me a break. what a crap movie. lego movie was very well made. really surprised me. such a shame it got snubbed.

      I agree. Dragon 2 was lame compared to the first one.

    I've seen three of the five nominations and two of them are definitely better than The Lego Movie whilst the third is debatable. I grew up playing with lego and was super hyped for the movie. It was an incredibly fun movie to watch and 'Everything is Awesome, is as catchy as any song can be but the truth is that , objectively, the quality/production value is not quite there and it did leave me thinking it wouldn't have been difficult to make it a better film. There was something a little bit off about the whole thing for me. Big points for fun and nostalgia but I do understand why it didn't get nominated.

    Get it changed please!

    I just think that the MPAA people never owned Lego as kids.

    When I watched it for the first time, watching the end I just cried. I grow up on Lego and now as an adult with kids, I started to feel like I was Will Ferrell. I needed to let me kids play with my Lego and not lock it away.

      I'm still in the lock it away stage, unless they promise to put the blue bits back with the other blue bits etc when they pack it up...

    Shakespear in love, dances with wolves and mathew mcdouchenozzel... do i have to go on

    You don't expect these socially responsible, down-to-earth Hollywood people to be aligning themselves with a movie that may serve as a commercial, do you? After all, none of them does commercials.

    Last edited 16/01/15 3:38 pm

    So the movies nominated are:

    “Big Hero 6”
    “The Boxtrolls”
    “How to Train Your Dragon 2”
    “Song of the Sea”
    “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya”

    I have not seen Song of the Sea, but that's some competition LEGO Movie would have had. A shame it did not make the "Oscar cut".

    No mention of what the movies are actually judged on.
    I think the Lego movie is awesome, but have no idea whether it meets the criteria necessary to win.

    Will Ferrell as the voice of Lord Business was bad. Live, as The Man Upstairs, was worse.
    I was sorely tempted to not watch the rest, when he came on screen.

    He plays "annoying" really well - but that's ALL he does. in EVERY movie.

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