The Academy Award for Best Animated Feature is one of the annual awards given by the Los Angeles-based professional organization, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Academy Awards, or Oscars, which are the oldest awards given to achievements in film, included the Best Animated Feature category for the first time for the 2001 film year. Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Up (2009) are the only animated films ever to be nominated for Best Picture, while Waltz with Bashir (2008) is the only animated picture ever nominated for Best Foreign Language Film.
The award is only given if there are at least eight animated feature films (with a theatrical release in Los Angeles). For the purposes of the award, only films over 70 minutes long are considered to be feature films. If there are 16 or more films submitted for the category, the winner is voted from a shortlist of five films (which has thus far happened only in 2002 and 2009), otherwise there will only be three films on the shortlist.
People in the animation industry and fans expressed hope that the prestige from this award and the resulting boost to the box office would encourage the increased production of animated features. Some members and fans have criticized the award, however, saying it is only intended to prevent animated films from having a chance of winning Best Picture. This criticism was particularly prominent at the 81st Academy Awards, in which WALL-E won the award but was not nominated for Best Picture, despite receiving overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics and moviegoers and being generally considered one of the best films of 2008. This led to controversy over whether the film was deliberately snubbed of the nomination by the Academy. Film critic Peter Travers commented that "If there was ever a time where an animated feature deserved to be nominated for Best Picture, it's WALL-E". However, official Academy Award regulations state that any movie nominated for this category can still be nominated for Best Picture. In 2009 when the nominee slots for Best Picture were doubled to 10, Up was nominated for both Best Animated Feature and Best Picture at the 82nd Academy Awards, the first film to do so since the creation of the category.
Computer animated films have been the big winner in this category, with seven wins in the nine-year history of the award. The only exceptions were in 2002 and 2005, with winners Spirited Away, a traditionally-animated anime film, and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, a stop-motion animation film. Both non-CG films were also non-American; Spirited Away came from Japan and Curse of the Were-Rabbit came from Britain.
Pixar Animation Studios has been the most successful organization in the history of Best Animated Feature. Out of the seven feature films made by Pixar between 2001 and 2009, all have been nominated for this award, and only two have lost (Monsters Inc. lost to Shrek, and Cars lost to Happy Feet). All five others (Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, WALL-E, and Up) won their respective years.
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