The Lego Movie's Oscar "Snub", And Why You Need To Get Over It

Don't cry Emmet, 'Everything Is Awesome!!!' is still up for Best Original Song.

Upon the annoucement of this year's Oscar nominations a week ago, one topic of conversation dominated all others. It wasn't the pleasantly surprising stack of nods racked up by Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, or even Michael Keaton's welcome return to the top thanks to Birdman.

All anyone seemed to want to talk about was The Lego Movie failing to be nominated in the Best Animated Feature category. Twitter overflowed with comments about the Academy being "out of touch", and movie websites put together lists both of the reasons why The Lego Movie deserved a nomination - and, according to many, a win - as well as the reasons why all the other nominees were less deserving.

Lego Batman: reason enough in the eyes of many to give 
The Lego Movie an Oscar right now.
I, meanwhile, simply couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. Whilst I enjoyed The Lego Movie (somewhat more than Sam), it never felt to me like a film of substance, let alone one of significance. "Great expendable fun, but never anything more", is how I described the film in my review last year, a viewpoint that hasn't changed since.

The fact that The Lego Movie has steadily hypnotised most of the Western hemisphere into believing it to be some sort of computer-animated version of The Godfather therefore confounds me entirely. Besides, just because a film is incredibly popular, does that mean we now automatically assume it will win Oscars, or at least be nominated for them? If that's the case, then Michael Bay has been robbed of at least four Academy Awards for each Transformers film he's churned out so far.

Perhaps some mild surprise at The Lego Movie's absence in the category is justified when you look down the list of past nominees and see the likes of Kung Fu Panda 2 and The Croods in recent years. But to call it a snub - as if Lord and Miller's ode to plastic building blocks not only deserved to be front and centre of the nominations, but also that it would be a shoe-in to win - seems hyperbolic and to be losing sight of the bigger picture, as well as somewhat insulting to the films that have been nominated in the category.

Song Of The Sea: my pick for Best Animated Feature.
Of the five Best Animated Feature nominees, I have seen only two. The three I haven't yet seen - Big Hero Six, The Boxtrolls and The Tale Of Princess Kaguya - I obviously can't comment upon in detail. That being said, seeing as they respectively come from Disney, Laika and Studio Ghibli, all of which have multiple previous nominations in the category, their presence seems reasonable at the very least. The remaining two - How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Song Of The Sea - in my opinion both deserve their nominations, being two of the most entertaining and well-crafted films (animated or otherwise) I've seen in 2014. My winner out of the pair would be Song Of The Sea, a beautiful film which I was enchanted by at LIFF last November.

It therefore seems fair to say that The Lego Movie has not been overlooked in favour of any undeserving nominees. But that still doesn't explain the unprecedented outcry its lack of recognition has sparked. In short, there is simply no justification for the snowballing outrage fans of The Lego Movie have voiced in the past week. Whilst entertaining, Lord and Miller's film isn't different or groundbreaking or controversial; it hasn't been mistreated, and just because many people love it doesn't make it automatically worthy of inclusion.

As a point of reference, let's turn our attention to another of last year's mainstream cinematic success stories: Guardians Of The Galaxy. A film with many similarities to The Lego Movie in terms of the overwhelming critical and popular acclaim it achieved, as well as the way in which it has swiftly permeated popular culture. Both films even share a leading man in Chris Pratt. Despite the huge amount of love for Guardians Of The Galaxy, it received only two Oscar nominations last week in the more minor categories of Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup And Hair. So where is the foot-stamping and dummy-spitting from the fans of James Gunn's comic book sci-fi flick?

This year's Best Makeup And Hair Oscar winner? Groot's 
keeping his twigs crossed...
Simply put, there isn't any. Why? Because the people who loved it (which, by the way, doesn't include me at all) know that, despite its popularity, Guardians Of The Galaxy is not a film made to win Oscars. They also know that not being nominated takes absolutely nothing away from their enjoyment of and affection for the film. And herein lies the sticking point when it comes to fans of The Lego Movie.

Those making all the noise about Lord and Miller's lack of recognition by the Academy have lost any perspective on the matter, convincing themselves that their new favourite animated movie should be everyone else's new favourite animated movie too. It isn't, of course. That's not to take anything away from The Lego Movie; it's a perfectly entertaining throwaway film, and that's fine. We need films that entertain for a hundred minutes without demanding too much from our grey matter. I love a good mind-bending psychological thriller as much as the next film addict, but sometimes you need some counterbalance, and films like The Lego Movie offer just that.

Anyone who sees The Lego Movie for what it truly is, whether they love it or loathe it, surely must therefore agree that the Academy's choice not to nominate it for Best Animated Feature is barely a surprise, let alone a snub. Whilst the dust has not yet settled, let's hope it has just over a month from now; whichever nominee does end up leaving with this year's Best Animated Feature award rightfully deserves to enjoy the moment with their little golden man, without having to worry about little yellow men still unfairly preoccupying everyone's mind.


By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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