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Richard Linklater’s ‘Apollo 10 1/2’ Now Qualifies for Animation Oscar After Academy Initially Rejected It

The Animation branch reversed its decision after earlier disqualifying the rotoscoped movie, which rankled many animation professionals in October.

Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood

“Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood”

Netflix

After no small controversy and outcry, the Oscars have decided “Apollo 10 1/2” is an animated film, after all. Richard Linklater’s rotoscoped animated film has been declared eligible for nomination in the Best Animated Feature category, IndieWire has confirmed.

In addition, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ animation committee has confirmed that the A24 stop-motion film “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” and Canadian animated/live-action documentary hybrid “Eternal Spring” will also qualify for the animated feature award.

“Upon review of relevant background materials provided by the filmmakers, the Academy’s Short Films and Feature Animation Branch Executive Committee deemed ‘Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood,’ ‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,’ and ‘Eternal Spring’ eligible for consideration in the Animated Feature Film category for the 95th Academy Awards. The Academy is committed to recognizing the innovations within our industry,” an Academy spokesperson told IndieWire.

In October, IndieWire exclusively reported that the Oscars animation committee rejected “Apollo 10 1/2” from consideration in the Best Animated Feature category. The news was widely criticized by animation professionals and fans, with Linklater and Netflix attempting to appeal the decision.

In a letter shared with IndieWire, the Academy committee explained that the movie was rejected based on the amount of live-action footage used by Linklater and the animators to create the rotoscoped movie. Even though using live-action footage is standard for rotoscoping, one of the oldest animation techniques in the medium’s history, the committee wrote that it “does not feel that the techniques meet the definition of animation in the category rules.”

According to the Oscars eligibility rules, an animated film is defined as a “motion picture in which movement and characters’ performances are created using a frame-by-frame technique, and usually falls into one of the two general fields of animation: narrative or abstract.” The rules also exclude motion capture and real-time puppetry as animation techniques, qualifying that animation must figure in 75 percent of a film’s running time, with multiple major characters animated, for it to qualify for the feature prize.

Before the animation committee reversed its ruling on “Apollo 10 1/2,” “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” and “Eternal Spring” remained open questions in terms of eligibility. “Marcel” combines live-action and stop-motion techniques in following the title character (voice by Jenny Slate) alongside live actors, such as director Dean Fleischer-Camp itself. At the Savannah Film Festival in late October, Fleischer-Camp told IndieWire that his team was still in the process of submitting materials for qualification — which meant justifying 75 percent animation across the feature.

Jason Loftus’ “Eternal Spring,” which has been selected by Canada to represent the country in the international feature race, uses animation to reenact a 2002 incident where spiritual group Falun Gong hijacked a Chinese state TV station, along with present-day live-action footage.

Released by Netflix in April after premiering at the 2022 South By Southwest Film Festival, “Apollo 10 1/2” focuses on Stanley (voiced by Milo Coy), a fourth-grader living in Houston in 1969 prior to the Apollo 11 moon landing. The film is narrated by Jack Black as an older Stanley, with Glen Powell and Zachary Levi also starring.

In a statement to IndieWire, Richard Linklater said: “We are very grateful that the Academy’s animated branch now considers Apollo 10 1/2 an animated film and that the hundreds of artists who worked so tirelessly on it are acknowledged as having done so. We are especially thankful for the outpouring of support within the animation community and hope our particular journey has helped expand the Academy’s view of what animation is and can be and will hopefully make it better for others in the future.”

Ryan Lattanzio contributed reporting.

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