The Oscars Needs A Voice Acting Category

The Oscars Needs A Voice Acting Category

Every year, people who don’t watch the Oscars are full of ideas on how to improve the Oscars. If you’re suggesting Best Superhero Movie, Best Fight, or even Best Stunts, you’re better off watching the MTV Movie Awards. If you don’t know what a cinematography is and watch five movies in theatres a year (all of which come with limited edition popcorn buckets), then the Oscars probably aren’t your thing.

It’s fine not to engage with the Oscars, especially if you’re not a fan of movies that don’t have franchises. You’re better off ignoring them than forcing yourself to care and getting mad that Thor: Love & Thunder isn’t nominated. However, as someone who is a fan of the Oscars, there seems to be a major category being overlooked: voice acting.

Perhaps it’s my background in video games, where performances were traditionally voiced and only recently are we seeing greater use of mocap, but I have great respect for voiceover performances. It’s important in gaming to distinguish between voice acting and full performance capture, and given the chance most actors would prefer to go the full performance route, but we have decades worth of iconic performances in gaming where the actor had their voice alone to build the character.

Film is no stranger to this either, of course. Virtually all animated movies see actors rely on their voice entirely, with no motion capture. While there are a plethora of C-tier celebrity tie-in movies without much soul, they are washed away by the tidal wave of magnificent performances in the history of animation. It’s not just animation either. Scarlett Johansson was previously nominated at the Oscars for her role as an OS in Her, only for the nomination to be controversially rescinded due to Johansson never physically appearing on screen.

The chances of a voice acting category don’t seem all that high, unfortunately. If the Oscars is to make a change, it will likely be with crowd pleasing in mind, meaning some variation of an award popcorn movies would be up for. Also, while it has an Animation category, it is not voted in by animation experts and several voters have admitted to a lack of care for this category, as well as presenters often making it somewhat of a joke.

That doesn’t mean I still can’t go to bat for it though. Voice actors deserve far more recognition, and this would give them it on the biggest stage of all. I’m not sure splitting on gender lines is necessary (it has been mooted that the regular acting categories may not be gendered forever), but leading and supporting seems sensible. Without further ado, here’s who we’d nominate in these categories, if they existed. And if we got a vote.

Best Voice Performance In A Leading Role

Winner – Jenny Slate, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Scott Mescudi, Entergalactic

Lyric Ross, Wendell & Wild

Antonio Banderas, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Rosalie Chiang, Turning Red

Marcel the Shell is part animated, part not, and I’m not sure if it will even be eligible for Best Animated Feature, but Slate’s performance as the titular Marcel is moving and hilarious, and worthy of far more recognition than award season is likely to grant it.

Best Voice Performance In A Supporting Role

Winner – Sandra Oh, Turning Red

Christoph Waltz, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Florence Pugh, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

Kristen Schaal, The Bob’s Burgers Movie

Zazie Beetz, The Bad Guys

Where the Leading Role category had a couple of newcomers, we feel the five best supporting turns this year belong to actors who are already established. Indeed, Waltz is an Oscar winner, Pugh a nominee, and all four bar Schaal are best known for their live-action work. However, none showed up and phoned it in for the money, instead lending heart and passion to their roles – none more so than Oh, whose role as Turning Red’s fretful mother highlights why voice work deserves the spotlight.

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