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The Oscars 2014: ‘Frozen’ vs. ‘The Wind Rises’

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This is an anonymously submitted user article for Frozember. Read more of the Frozember series, here.

It’s that time of the year again in Hollywood: submitting movies for Oscar consideration in hopes of winning big. This year, Disney submitted a few hopefuls, including the highly-anticipated Frozen. It is not only already compared to Beauty & the Beast by critics and raved by lucky early viewers, but also people are already claiming that it will win Best Animated Feature.

Now, it is no surprise that Frozen’s pinnacle song, “Let It Go” is being deemed as the shoo-in for Best Original Song. After listening to the movie version of it, I have to say to agree: yeah, it might win. And after hearing some of Christophe Beck’s score, it might have won if it weren’t for the ridiculous “musicals are not eligible” rule. But, Best Animated Feature? Frozen has a huge problem with three words: THE. WIND. RISES.

The Wind Rises is from legendary Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki and it’s his final movie ever. The Wind Rises is based on the true story about Dr. Jiro Horikoshi, a civil engineer who designed airplanes in World War II. Why is it a problem for Frozen? Well, let’s compare movies and talk about both movies’ strengths and weaknesses. And unfortunately, for Disney and Pixar fans, I will talk about the controversial Brave win (I do love Brave though) at the Oscars to make points.

Frozen and The Wind Rises are currently the two frontrunners according to many Oscar prediction polls, so that’s why I’m focusing just on these two films (and not including Monsters University).

Why The Wind Rises Could Win

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1) Based on a True Story

First, it is based on a true story. Unfortunately, for Frozen, the Academy typically prefers historical and dramatic movies to fictional ones. See why there are hardly any nominations for comedies? Exactly. (Even though movies like Chicago and The Lord of the Rings won Best Picture in years past, and movies like Juno, Little Miss Sunshine, and heck: Beauty and the Beast got nominated for Best Picture!)

The Wind Rises movie takes place in World War II. The Academy loves things topics like that. Best Picture movies such as last year’s winner, Argo, and The Hurt Locker are about wars. Best Picture movies like The King’s Speech are historical. The Wind Rises is both of these. Frozen is about…what? An animated, fantasy musical about two sisters with one having snow powers…and oh, a goofy snowman (who’s getting praised by critics, by the way) is somewhere in the mix.

2) Hand-drawn Animation

This point might strike some controversy: I really doubt it, but it could be because of the animation. While Frozen and the others are CGI, The Wind Rises is traditionally hand drawn. 2D animation can be very hard to come by these days and the novelty of it could tip the scales

I am most likely wrong and could have misread it, but I read somewhere that some of the Academy members don’t even watch the movies. They read the synopsis. *motions to point #1* Think about this year on how Pixar’s Brave beat Disney’s more deserving (in my own opinion) Wreck-It Ralph. A princess tries to save her mother from a curse in 13th-14th century Scotland against…video game characters?

3) Miyazaki’s Last Movie

The reason that will most likely set the deal for Best Animated Feature: It is Hayao Miyazaki’s last movie ever. And what is a better send off to a legend than giving him the big award to his last movie?  And not to mention, 11 years ago, one of his movies, Spirited Away beat Disney Animation’s very own, Lilo and Stitch and Treasure Planet, for the award.

Why Frozen Could Win

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1) Strong Family Relationships

The family relationships are strong. In Brave, we had the daughter and the mother, trying to fix their relationship before a curse ruined the relationship forever. It’s the same case for Frozen, but only this time with sisters. As demonstrated in “The Party is Over” clip, and the songs “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” and the reprise of “For the First Time in Forever”, the exploration of the relationship is very strong and it’s full of drama. Remember: the Academy loves drama. But, they also love family drama like Elsa and Anna’s.

2) Movie Musical

I think that the fact is a musical will help a lot. Look how many Disney greats are musicals. Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Pinocchio, Tarzan…the list goes on and on! Plus, a lot of Disney movies won Oscars and Grammys for their songs. And some of the greatest cinematic moments are from Disney. And I think Elsa, making the snow palace, as she belts out “Let It Go” will fit in perfectly with “one of the greatest cinematic moments“. Most importantly, music is a very important piece in storytelling. If the music to Frozen is as great as we hear it, it could help out a lot with the voting!

3) Rave Reviews

Frozen is already huge raves from critics. Right now, Frozen has a 100% rating in Rotten Tomatoes with critics praising the new story, music, characters, and animation. Like I said before, they’re comparing this to Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid. If the critics are actually saying that, then the film must be pretty darn great. Unfortunately, for The Wind Rises, it may have an 86% rating, but it still draws criticism due to the World War II theme.

4) Disney’s First Win

It’s Disney! Furthermore, Disney Animation has never won a single Oscar for Best Animated Feature! The category was created in 2001, just a few years after the great Disney Renaissance. By that time, Disney’s quality faltered and other studios came up to compete.

As everyone knows, Disney’s last hit movie, Wreck-It Ralph was the declared shoo-in for the winner in 2012, but Pixar’s Brave won instead, causing uproar. In my opinion, Ralph should have won because not only was it very creative with the story, the worlds, how they took video games etc., but also, to my surprise, it had a lot of heart and I honestly almost cried a couple of times. I think giving Frozen the Oscar this year would make it up to upset fans. And with the comparisons to the 90s movies and to the fact that Pixar doesn‘t have a chance this year, I think this would be the perfect first win for WDAS.

5) Future Animation Plate Getting Crowded

This may be the last time to give WDAS the big Oscar for a while. Disney’s next movie, Big Hero 6, has lots of competition next year with Book of Life, Rio 2, The Boxtrolls, and Mr. Peabody & Sherman. After this, Pixar will definitely win in 2015 and 2016. Even though WDAS won’t have anything in 2015, there will be no way that Disney’s two movies in 2016, Zootopia and the rumored fairy tale, Giants, will defeat Pixar’s highly anticipated, Finding Dory. So, Academy members, if you’re dying to give WDAS the Oscar, do it now or forever hold your peace.

Final Thoughts

In my opinion, I’m conflicted. I mostly want Frozen to win because WDAS deserves the Best Animated Feature Oscar because it practically created the category. I can’t think of a better first recipient than Frozen. But, at the same time, The Wind Rises is Miyazaki’s last movie and this would be a fitting farewell. But, why couldn’t Studio Ghibli just wait until next year to release the film? With Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur being pushed back by another two years, this would have been a shoo-in for 2015.

What do you think, readers? Do you think the Academy will give Miyazaki a very generous farewell gift, or will they give him the cold shoulder and finally let the WDAS take the gold?

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About Morgan Stradling

Morgan is a native of Arizona and is a desert rat who loves the heat--she doesn’t even turn on the AC in her car in the middle of the summer! She loves big eyeliner, Survivor, Lady Gaga, and, of course, animated films. She has her MBA in Marketing from ASU and now works as a Product Manager for a tech company. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.