Will A Voice Actor Ever Get Nominated For An Oscar?

Don LaFontaine Voice Work

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.

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

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.

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