Will A Voice Actor Ever Get Nominated For An Oscar?

Published 5 years ago by

Don LaFontaine Voice Work Will A Voice Actor Ever Get Nominated For An Oscar?

As animation and motion-capture continue to expand in the film industry, some of the biggest names in Hollywood have become more involved. But will any of those performances ever turn into an Oscar nomination?

The subject matter in animation has evolved into something spectacular in recent years. What was once reserved for re-imagined fairy tales has now brought us Up and Toy Story 3, films that present serious gravitas that requires some intense emotions from the actors involved.

But in reality, animation is still a fabrication. The characters share little to no qualities with their human counterparts other than voice. One could argue the actors are simply chosen for audience recognition as opposed to their ability to portray that specific character.

The onslaught of award-winning motion capture has presented us with a more realistic possibility of an Oscar-nominated performance. I strongly believe Zoe Saldana was snubbed by last year’s Academy Awards when she was not nominated for Best Actress. Then again, the competition was pretty strong. But Saldana’s performance was integral to the believability and romanticism of Avatar.

avatar spoilers zoe saldana Will A Voice Actor Ever Get Nominated For An Oscar?

Another CGI character in need of recognition (beyond us fans) is Andy Serkis’ Gollum. The emotion displayed by the animation and the heart and soul of his motion-capture work are a combination like no other. But we are all done with the Lord of the Rings trilogy and his chance has come and gone.

It is important to recognize that the motion-capture work of today’s films implements countless features of the actor behind the character. Days are spent creating virtual characters from their human counterparts through digital science. So, every emotion expressed by these animated characters are directly influenced by the actors. Add to that the emotional possibilities of voice work and it shouldn’t be so far-fetched to expect an Oscar nomination in the near future.

Lord of the Rings Two Towers Gollum Will A Voice Actor Ever Get Nominated For An Oscar?

In the end, it all comes down to how the genre is perceived. We rarely see films presented in animation or motion-capture that encompass the same range or depth as a live-action Best Actor or Best Actress nominee, and so it creates a biased outlook on the genre, to the point where truly spectacular voice or motion-capture performances are overlooked. It really is a double-edged sword.

For now it doesn’t seem like there are that many “meaty” upcoming voice or motion-capture roles that will provide actors with a dramatic opportunity to explore their deeper ranges. Perhaps that’s why so many renowned figures in entertainment seek out jobs bringing animated characters to life: besides a short engagement with the production, these voice gigs give actors a chance to relax a bit while still earning a paycheck.

Do you think we’ll ever see an Oscar nomination from an animated or motion-capture performance? Did any past performances deserve a nomination? Discuss the possibilities in the comments section below.

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. Does Brad Pitt from Benjamin Button count? I mean, some of his performance was motion capture instead of actual makeup, same for Taraji P. Henson who got a best supporting actress nomination.

    Personally, they should have given Oscar nominations to animated voicework since Dory from Finding Nemo, while I do think eventually a voice actor will get an Oscar nomination, for now they have nothing but the Annie Awards.

    P.S., Sigourney Weaver deserved a best supporting actress nomination for Avatar over nominees Maggie Gyllenghal and Penelope Cruz.

  2. Andy Serkis also played as King Kong, but I don’t think that counts, but he should get something for that performance.

  3. I’m not sure if I want to see this happen. I’ve seen great voice work and motion capture but still nothing that competes with a real live action actors performance.

    As far as Avatar deserving an Oscar for Zoe I think that’s a huge stretch Avatar deserved awards for Sfx and nothing else. Zoe is very overrated in my opinion and Avatar was just a Meh film with mediocre performance a very un original re hash of an Disney film and no depth what so ever.

  4. I don’t think we’ll be seeing this happen anytime soon. And if we do, I won’t give a damn because it’ll just be some A-lister, same old same old. There are people who have made careers out of creating full, complete, resonant characters using nothing but their voice. Think about that. Nothing but their voice. Film acting is more heavily dependent on silence and physical expression than anything else. A voice actor has none of those tools. But when Al Brooks or Steve Carell is your voice actor, you’re getting a caricature of Al Brooks or Steve Carell. Are the performances good? Of course they are, because the actors are good. But the level of character creation is not the same as with Steve Blum or Billy West or Phil Lamar, actors who are creating a completely unique persona, devoid of their ow personality, own ticks or film persona. Will Steve Blum or Billy West or Phil Lamar ever win Oscars? Almost assuredly not. Because studios, and forget Disney features, look at something on the level of Warner Bros. Under the Red Hood, will always choose film actors over voice actors, for a host of reasons. Sad truth.

    Motion-capture is a whole different thing. Andy Sirkus’s performance as Gollum was…. amazing. Zoe Saldana’s performance as Neytiri was…. not. It was a good performance! She had some beautiful moments. But she wasn’t using the technology to create a performance or character that couldn’t otherwise have existed. If they’d slapped cat ears on her and painted her blue, they could have created that character with trick photography. She could have played Neytiri without any makeup or prosthesis at all if it had been set on the plains instead of Pandora.

    Voice actors, people who are practitioners of something that is just as much a craft as film or stage actors, are second class citizens in the eyes of studios. I doubt one will ever be given even the opportunity to be awarded anything like an Oscar, because those roles won’t be given to voice actors.

  5. Whoa Zoe for Avatar? She wasnt that good, the acting in Avatar wasnt that spectacular, great special effects but just decent acting. No Oscar nominations for any of them.

    The guy who did Smeagle and Golem in LOTR would be my pick for any motion capture actor nominee.

  6. i think Motion Captured Performance will get it’s own catagory someday.

    but voice acting will never get the same respect, though most good voice actors are better than any second rate actor.

    • its very, VERY sad to say, but i totally agree with you. i think that they should have someones voice in movies get their own award, but not a best actor or actress. not saying that none of them deserve it, just that ever since film, people who did animated voices never got the recognition compared to if they were physiclly in the film, i hope that it changes soon, but im not holding my breath…

  7. When they make an animated movie with a strong political message that the Academy agrees with, that’s when one will win.

  8. Hey Vic, shall we start counting the anti-Avatar vs Pro-Avatar posts now? Or is this a bad time? lol.

    • Um, yeah… let’s not.



  9. While I don’t think the performance is Oscar-worthy, I must say that the voice actor for Lotso in Toy Story 3 was incredible. He really made that character something special.
    Vic, if you ever do that best movie villains list I keep campaigning for, you better put Lotso on it! :)

  10. I think it may never happen in that a voice or motion capture performance is an altered performance. As much as the actor’s contribution lends weight and believability to an animated character, the animation is the only thing keeping the performance from being a radio broadcast (which do not get Oscar nods). Even motion capture involves animators tweeking the captured image (including and most importantly the face). I don’t want to offend any actors or fans, but at the end of the day a voice actor gives half a performance and motion captured actors give three-fourths. Maybe as the technology grows, a new catergory will be instituted to accomodate these talents.

  11. I’m confident that a voice actor will eventually get nominated for an Oscar. The law of averages alone pretty much means that it will happen. Someday a voice actor will bring us such a mesmerising performance that they’ll get serious recognition. It might not happen this decade, or the next, but it WILL happen.

    I think that normal actors are probably more deserving of awards in most cases, because they really have to put their entire bodies into their performances, including their voice.

  12. Wait a sec, the post says “voice actor”, not “motion performance”. I’m trying to stay focused here. ;)

    I’ve been hearing about nominating voice actors since Jeremy Irons’ GREAT performance as Scar in THE LION KING, and it still hasn’t happened. I think it’s unfair considering all the great voice-only actors that have worked their backside off for so many years and no one ever hears about them. I’m thinking Jim Cummings (Taz, Ed in THE LION KING). I’m thinking… um… see, I can’t think of anyone else. :S

    I do hope that when THE HOBBIT comes out, Andy Serkis gets another chance to be recognized. And Ellen DeGeneres as Dory (FINDING NEMO), Robin Williams as The Genie (ALADDIN) and Ned Beatty as Lotso (TOY STORY 3) will be recognized at least in mentioning!

    • Oh, let’s go back to the greats who never received Oscars: the legendary Mel Blanc, Paul Frees, Jim Backus (the voice of Mr. MaGoo), Marvin Miller, and the still-going-strong June Foray. Now, these deserve something, even posthumously.

  13. @Juan Carlos rodriguez
    Estoy completamente deacuerdo!!!!! All of those deserve Oscar nominations!!!!!

    • Why thank you for that! Heck, even Vin Diesel was a perfect choice for the Iron Giant. Or even Patton Oswalt in RATATOUILLE! Academy, wake up!

  14. No voice actor should get an OScar Nod until the animators do for providing the ACTING in the scene.

  15. Many ppl who deserve oscars dont even get nominated…….

  16. What will it take?
    An Act of God.

  17. If this is the case, we go back in time and I gotta’ nominate Craig Nelson for ‘Mr. Incredible’. Pixar did an outstanding job with animating the expressions & body language & such (as usual), but Craig brought humanity to that character and nailed it.

  18. Not going to happen. The Academy takes only one positive “modern” step every 5 years or so.
    We’ll have to probably wait for another 4.

  19. I believe that it’s PAST time for voice actors (especially those that some of us grew up with from the 60′s – 80′s) should get some sort of recognition for their work. In my opinion live action actors (meaning Brad Pitt, Harrison Ford, etc.) when they lend their voices to a fictional cartoon character, they don’t have the experience to be able to make that character as believably alive as voice actors who’ve been doing the job for 10 years or longer. I know that live action actors want to lend their voice to do movies like “The Chipmunks” and movies like that, but before they do, they should do research with voice actors on how to make the characters more believable. Look at some of the classic voice actors and their characters they did. Frank Oz who did Miss Piggy and Animal on “The Mupetts Show”, Peter Cullen who is well known for Optimus Prime on “Transformers” and Mogwai and the Gremlins on the move “Gremlins”, just to name a few of the things he’s done alone. Voice actors are extremely talented because they have to show a range of emotions just through their voices for their audience to pick up. No other actor has that kind of strict restraint to his acting job and still do such an amazing job at it as voice actors.

  20. there should be an oscar for best animated voice over actor/actress

  21. I thought the old guy from Up would’ve been a decent nominee. He had to recite some of his lines with funny delivery, while other times he spoke were really emotional.