Let me start off by saying that The LEGO Movie is my personal favorite movie of the year, so the rest of this may be (read: definitely will be) biased. With its true-to-brand depiction of the little yellow guys and gals popping about its gorgeously realized worlds, its whiplash-inducing deluge of jokes, references, and acerbic wit, and brilliant redux of the classical Hero’s Journey, this isn’t just my favorite movie of the year, but in years. And perhaps more importantly in this day and age: it’s one of the cleverest, managing to tackle a beloved childhood property and not totally ruin it.
Earlier this morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced all of the nominees for the 87th Academy Awards. The usual suspects got their expected nominees, with the likes of Birdman and The Imitation Game leading the pack. But, as with all award shows, there’s been some shocking frontrunners left in the cold. Gillian Flynn’s script or David Fincher’s direction for Gone Girl jumps out, as does any mention of gems like Snowpiercer or The Babadook. But, undoubtedly most shocking is the Best Animated Film category and its lack of The LEGO Movie.
Admittedly, I haven’t seen all of the nominees for Best Animated Film, and while the ones I have seen are actually pretty great, listing a Best Animated Film category of 2014 without The LEGO Movie is essentially making a list of the greatest Star Wars movies and not including The Empire Strikes Back. Sure, it was never going to get a Best Picture nomination, and a nod for Best Original Song in “Everything is Awesome” is great, but to snub it from the category it absolutely dominated this year is shockingly near-sighted.
And that’s the biggest issue at play here: it makes the Academy appear weirdly out of touch. Is anyone still talking about How To Train Your Dragon 2 anymore? I liked that movie (and its predecessor is my third-favorite movie of all time, it should be mentioned), but, for me, it never truly justified its own existence. On the other hand, how many kids have you come across with Emmet t-shirts, or someone referencing “Everything is Awesome” online?
The movie feels ever-present in pop culture (“Everything is Awesome” and “Best Animated Film” topics trending on Twitter for most of the morning following the nominations), and it’s just about a year old. The Big Hero 6s and How To Train Your Dragon 2s and The Boxtrolls of the world deserve their time to shine, as well, but how in the actual brick did they edge out a movie where Morgan Freeman debates semantics with Dumbledore (Dubledoor?) and Gandalf?