In the category for Best Animated Feature at the 2018 Oscars there were four (out of five) deserved nominations. Coco was a movie about a young Mexican boy trapped in the Land of the dead learning about his heritage. It is based on the Mexican holiday known as Dia de Los Muertos, or The day of the dead. The Breadwinner is about a young girl in Taliban controlled Afghanistan working to feed her family by pretending to be a boy. Ferdinand is about a bull who refuses to participate in bullfighting. Loving Vincent Is a film centered around the famous Vincent Van Gogh’s death. All of these films, by their universal themes and enchanting animation, are worthy of their nomination. Yet, there was a fifth: a film that I despise and hate with a passion—The Boss Baby
The Boss Baby (registering a mere 52% popularity on Rotten Tomatoes and 6.4/10 on IMDB) is not only one of the worst movies of the past year, but perhaps resulted in the most painful viewing experience I have suffered in my lifetime of watching movies. It only adds salt to the wound when, for some reason, The Boss Baby got nominated over The Lego Batman Movie (which also enjoyed more statistical appeal, earning 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.3 IMDB rating.) With this nomination, The Boss Baby now has more Oscar nominations than Patrick Stewart, Alan Rickman, The Shining, Groundhog Day, Frankenstein, The Big Lebowski, and Zodiac (2007). Such an accolade, in my opinion, is an insult to the Academy and their idea of celebrating the truly “great” films of the year.
Time and time again, movies like The Lego Batman Movie or Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight aren’t nominated for coveted awards; do the Oscars hold a bias against superheroes and their representation in the cinematic arts? The Dark Knight is a noteworthy example of a movie not being nominated for several Oscars it deserved. Of course, Heath Ledger’s nomination and win for Best supporting actor as The Joker is highly deserved. No other person that year matched his brilliance in character re-invention, but The Dark Knight was not nominated for Best Picture even when its legacy suggests (in some circles) that it is one of the best action films ever made. The outcry against the academy for the snub was so great that in the very next year, The Academy upped the nomination limit from five to ten in the Best Picture category… perhaps as an apology?
The Lego Batman Movie being cast out of the competition by The Boss Baby for Best Animated Feature is the same problem. A film that is highly regarded gets snubbed by a lesser film. According to RogerEbert.com’s justification for its 2-out-of-4-star rating of The Boss Baby:
“If this doesn’t sound exactly like a bundle of laugh-out-loud joy, that’s because it really isn’t.”
Their review of The Lego Batman Movie on the other hand (which had a 2.5 out of 4 review) stated:
“It draws upon decades of Bat-lore for its inside jokes (no previous incarnation of the Dark Knight is left un-zinged, including an obscure baddie known as the Condiment King) and cultural references that zip by faster than any souped-up Bat vehicle.”
There was only one moment in The Boss Baby that made me laugh and that was to due to a misunderstanding of the words said between Tim, the older brother, and the nameless “baby” when the latter was trying to get Tim to suck on a pacifier. I won’t tell you what I thought he said, but let’s just say that any humor in this film was the result of my twisted mind, and should not be attributed to the film’s creators. On the other hand, I can recall multiple times I laughed throughout The Lego Batman Movie. There was one scene in particular towards the beginning of the movie centered around Batman arriving home into his Batcave all alone heating up a chicken Alfred left for him in silence and then going into his own movie theater and watching Jerry Maguire and Marley and Me alone. The silence throughout this whole scene adds to the comedy as Batman seems totally pumped up by himself. The subtle comedy presented throughout this film is hilarious as it make jokes that diehard Batman fans such as myself and little kids that love the Lego franchise would understand.
The Academy’s dislike of superhero and thriller films, in general, is discriminatory and has passed over many great movies such as Logan and The Dark Knight. Then The Academy’s blatant insults to films that were amazing (but denied the statuette) such as Saving Private Ryan losing to Shakespeare in Love, and Citizen Kane (widely considered the greatest American film of all time) conceding victory to How Green Was My Valley. The Academy needs to step back and examine how they determine which films make it into nominations and which ones do not. For years to come people will remember one amazing film highlighting the escapades of a lego guy in a Batman costume far more fondly than a god-awful film that bores the audience with a talking baby in a suit.