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By Film Threat Staff | December 12, 2001

A feature-length animated film will be awarded a competitive Oscar(R) for the first time next March at the 74th Academy Award Presentations. The Best Animated Feature category was created in September, 2000, by the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which voted last night to present it for the first time in March, 2002. Nine films were declared eligible to compete by the executive committee of the Short Films and Feature Animation branch of the Academy, which recommended to the board of governors that the Award be given for this year.

The films are: ^ Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within ^ Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius ^ “Marco Polo: Return to Xanadu” ^ Monsters, Inc. ^ Osmosis Jones ^ “The Prince of Light” ^ Shrek ^ The Trumpet of the Swan ^ Waking Life
The eligibility of two of the films, Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius and “Marco Polo: Return to Xanadu,” is subject to their opening in Los Angeles prior to December 31. “Jimmy Neutron” is scheduled to open December 21, and “Marco Polo” on December 22.
The nominating process for this award will begin with a 100-member screening committee chaired by Academy Governor Tom Hanks and comprised half of animators and half of members of the Academy’s other 13 branches. That group will view the nine films and will determine the three nominees. The nominees will be announced on February 12. All voting Academy members worldwide are eligible to vote to select the film that will receive the Oscar.
Academy President Frank Pierson pointed out that the award is intended to honor not just a film’s animation work per se, but a film as an entire creation – taking the script, performances, score and other elements into account.
The Oscar for the category will be presented to “the key creative talent most clearly responsible for the overall achievement,” normally a single individual, on behalf of the entire production. In no case will more than two statuettes be presented.
Films submitted in the Best Animated Feature category also may qualify for Academy Awards in other areas, including Best Picture, provided they meet the rules criteria governing those categories.
Animated features have been recognized with Oscars(R) on numerous occasions in the past, beginning in 1938 with an honorary award to Walt Disney for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Animated features also have received special achievement awards as well as Oscars in editing, visual effects, song and score.
The last time a new Academy Award category was established was in 1981, when the Makeup award was created.
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