spirited away oscar chances: doubtful?
As I pointed out back in February, the superb Spirited Away has made history as the anime movie to be nominated for an Academy Award. This article at Pulp Culture applauds the history-making nomination, but isn't sanguine about the film's chances.
"Spirited Away" deserves to be the runaway favorite to win the Oscar. It already has won every other award for animation, including the International Animated Film Society’s Annie Award and the Broadcast Film Critics Association’s Critics’ Choice Award. Film critics at the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and a dozen other newspapers named it their No. 1 film of 2002, animated or otherwise.
But film critics and Oscar voters are two different breeds. Oscar voters usually go for movies that are successful at the box office while still appealing to their pretentious yet middlebrow tastes. How else can you explain Best Picture winners like "Dances with Wolves," "Titanic" and "Gladiator"?
...In Oscar terms, "Spirited Away" has two strikes against it.
First, it is anything but pretentious. "Spirited Away" is a simple, "Alice in Wonderland"-like tale of a girl who becomes trapped in a magical world and is forced to take on adult responsibilities to save herself and her parents, who have been turned into pigs by a witch.
Second, and most important, "Spirited Away" isn’t a blockbuster. At its peak, it played in 150 theaters, and it grossed only $5.5 million.
Japanese animation’s popularity in America is growing, but Disney doesn’t quite know what to do with it. Disney was clueless at promoting an earlier Miyazaki film, "Princess Mononoke."
I’ve been critical recently of Disney’s handling of Asian films, but this is Disney’s chance to redeem itself. Disney could rush "Spirited Away" back into theaters with an ad campaign spotlighting the film’s Oscar nomination and other awards.
Over at Destroy All Monsters, I noted that Roger Ebert has picked Lilo and Stitch to take home the prize, predicting that Disney would back its own production rather than the import it's distributing, but that Spirited Away may be enjoying an edge in the "for your consideration" ads in Hollywood publications.