Films are never marketed as just "live-action," because that wouldn't make sense. Is the "live-action" movie a drama, a comedy, horror, or something else? This is obvious, but I mention it because it's exactly the kind of approach used to market and distribute animated features. When the Best Animated Feature Award was introduced for the 2002 Academy Awards, it seemed to give some legitimacy to animated features, but it also gave the wrongful impression that animation is just animation, and not, as is clearly the case, a method of making a film that can be scary, or dramatic, or weird, or funny, or any other adjective you can come up with. Animated features run the same gambit as any live-action flick, but when it comes to marketing and distribution they're often crammed under the "Animation" rubric.

p>Animation fanatics have been eschewing most American offerings for more substantial fare like that of Hayao Miyazaki for years, and when John Lasseter's wonderfully re-dubbed version of Miyazaki's Spirited Away went from a minor art house release to Academy Award-winning film and finally into a much wider release, it seemed to be a message to the industry that you can't treat all animated features exactly the same; that animation should be seen as a method of making a movie and not a genre in and of itself. Nevertheless, Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle, an Oscar contender, was given the same shoddy release and marketing push as Spirited Away. Mark Hairston wrote about this for Frames Per Second Magazine, but I think Amid Amidi of Cartoon Brew said it best when he wrote, "The development of the animated art is hampered not by a lack of vision from artists, but by shortsighted film studios that are unwilling to think outside of the box when it comes to animated film distribution and marketing." I'm not quite ready to stand up and demand that animated features be considered alongside live-action films during Oscar time, but time and time again I see films released in this particular medium that rival so many live-action releases. Perhaps it's foolish to think general audiences would ever accept animation as just as legitimate as live action, but I'd love to see it happen. Eventually, it wouldn't have to be about the medium, it would simply be about whether or not the movie is any good.