The 91st Academy Awards are in a few weeks, and there’s a lot of buzz around which actors, filmmakers, and films will take home the prestigious awards. I’m an aspiring filmmaker and am fascinated by the film world. I’m personally a big fan of watching the Academy Awards every year and seeing who comes out on top for each category. It’s exciting trying to guess who’ll win for Best Lead Actor, Best Original Screenplay, or Best Picture. However, there’s a major part of the modern movie industry that is constantly ignored by the Academy every year, and that’s voice acting.
Oscars are given out to lead actors and supporting actors in live action films, but never for actors in animated ones. There has been an award for Best Animated Feature since 2002. There is even an award given out to Best Animated Short Film. Before that, the Academy was reluctant to have the animated category due to the slight lack of animated movies released each year. However, since then, animated movies have become major players in the film world. Multiple types of animation are at play, including hand-drawn animation, Claymation, computer generated animation, and more. Some animated films have been nominated for and have even won in other categories. On top of all that, there have been major voice acting roles in live action films for decades, like Darth Vader in “Star Wars,” most of the cast of 2016’s “The Jungle Book,” the entire cast of “The Dark Crystal,” and Rocket Raccoon in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Since this is the case, why are they still not recognizing voice talent for their art?
This is especially surprising since the Academy has recently announced the possibility of an Outstanding Popular Movie category for future Oscars ceremonies. A category like that defeats the purpose of the Oscars since they are awards given out based on the merit of the artist or film. This category turns the award show into a popularity contest regardless of how good the movies that are nominated are. I’m personally shocked they would rather add this category instead of one for voice acting.
What’s especially bizarre about the lack of a voice acting category is the thought of some actors not having a much-deserved award for their memorable performances. Tom Hanks deserves an Oscar for playing Woody in “Toy Story,” Ellen Degeneres deserves one for playing Dory in “Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dory,” and Mike Meyers should have won for “Shrek.” There are plenty of performers in this year’s movies that would have been perfect candidates for a voice acting Oscar like Bryan Cranston for “Isle of Dogs,” Shameik Moore for “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse,” and Holly Hunter for “Incredibles 2.”
Supposedly, a voice actor can technically win for the already-existing acting categories and that none have ever been nominated for them yet. In my opinion, voice actors and actors in live action roles should not be in the same category. They are each their own, separate art. Different skills are necessary for each one. With voice acting, all emotion must come from just the person’s voice. There have been live action performers who have tried bringing their talent to voice acting, but all they’ve accomplished is blandly reading lines like Justin Timberlake in “Trolls,” or Chris Rock in “Madagascar.” Because voice acting takes skills that are so different than live action acting, it’s necessary for the Academy Awards to celebrate them as different categories.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are often looking for new ways to gain viewers. One thing they’ve been looking into in recent years to gain those viewers is adding newer categories, and Best Voice Talent should be an obvious choice. It’s an important part of modern films, it takes a lot of talent to achieve a great vocal performance, and it’s a category people might care about. Hopefully, if enough people express their interest and the need for a Best Voice Performance category at the Oscars, the Academy will actually add it and finally give voice actors the recognition they deserve.