Thursday 31 January 2013

And The Oscar for Best Voice Acting Goes To...


...No one. So why don't they have an Oscar for Best Voice Acting? These days, a whole host of famous actors and actresses have lent their voices to animated films and for some, these characters have since become signature roles. Maybe it's just a lack of respect for animation in general from the Academy, although an Oscar was created for Best Animated Feature back in 2002.

So what gives Academy? Any fan of animation over the age of 6 knows that brilliant voice acting can make all the difference. Some of my favourite characters of all time have been voiced by legendary performers and they shouldn't have been penalised for their work just because they appeared in an animated film instead of live-action. But who do you think would have deserved to win such an award? Love them or hate them, here are my five best picks;

Teri Hatcher as Mother/Other Mother - Coraline

Yeah that's right. Susan out of Desperate Housewives is actually a pretty damn good voice actor! Her role in the stop-motion animated 'Coraline' is the highlight of the film for me, where Hatcher gets to play both Coraline's Mother and her 'Other Mother' in alternate scenes. The real Mother is the more realistic yet less appealing of the two, due to her kind but weary demeanor. Where Hatcher's talent really stands out though is in her portrayal of the 'Other Mother', a twisted doppelganger who wishes to replace Coraline's eyes with buttons and keep her trapped forever in a parallel fantasy world. The two characters could have easily blended into one but Hatcher's performance makes both stand out as completely separate entities, all because of the tone in her voice. That's some talent right there. Give her an Oscar! 

Robbie Williams as The Genie - Aladdin

There were so many legendary voice acting performances that I could have chosen from the Disney canon, including villains such as Scar (Jeremy Irons) and Hades (James Wood), but if one role were to win an Oscar, then it would just have to be Robbie Williams for his manic performance in 'Aladdin'. The Genie is one of the most memorable characters that Disney has ever produced and its fascinating to watch him constantly adopt different voices and personas while providing the comic relief. What's even more incredible though is that William's actually improvised many of the lines himself in the recording studio, bringing his undisputed comic genius to the role. My favourite Genie moment has to be when he turns into a female news reporter commenting on Prince Ali's arrival, which is just hilarious, but his signature moment would have to be the song 'Friend Like Me', which you can watch below. You lucky things. Enjoy! 

Phil Hartman as Jiji - Kiki's Delivery Service

Some years after their initial releases, Studio Ghibli decided to record an English dub for all of their big films with performers as varied as Gillian Anderson and Anne Hathaway playing major roles. But who was the best? Billy Crystal was awesome as the talking fire demon Calcifer in 'Howl's Moving Castle' and I loved loved loved Suzanne Pleshette as the bathhouse witch Yubaba in 'Spirited Away' but for me, you can't beat a smart-ass talking black cat. SNL legend Phil Hartman recorded the role of Jji in 'Kiki's Delivery Service' not long before he died and it is easily one of the best voice acting performances of his career. Jiji could have easily been just a cute Disney-style cat but Hartman brings a cutting edge to the role that transforms the character into something far more memorable and steals every scene he's in. Posthumous Oscar anyone? Check out the trailer below and read more about Jiji right here.

Brad Bird as Edna Mode - The Incredibles

Anyone who has seen Pixar classic 'The Incredibles' will remember Edna Mode, despite her relatively few appearances in the film. Her small size, giant glasses and bizarre hairstyle helped Edna to stand out but what makes the character truly memorable is that condescendingly nasal voice. I was then shocked like many others to later discover that Edna was voiced by none other than Brad Bird, the director of the film. Seriously. How is that a man? Bird did an amazing job of bringing this unique character to life and if there was an Oscar for Best Voice Acting then this would be the equivalent of Judi Dench winning for her ten minutes in 'Shakespeare In Love'. Except this is better. Check out my favourite Edna Mode scene from 'The Incredibles' below, which is affectionately titled 'No Capes'.

Chiara Mastroianni as Marjane - Persepolis

When you think of animation, an Iranian biographical black-and-white drama based on a graphic novel is not usually the first thing that comes to mind, but 'Persepolis' has to be one of the best animated films of all time. What's particularly impressive about this heartfelt true story though is that the protagonist Marjane is voiced by the same actress as both an adult and a child... in both the French and English dubs. Mastroianni's voice acting feels completely genuine and makes the lead character that much more relatable to audiences worldwide. This kind of dramatic foreign role would have been prime for at least an Oscar nomination if the film was live action instead of animation. Damn you Academy! If you haven't seen 'Persepolis' yet then watch the trailer below and then go out and buy/download it right now!

So what do you think of my choices? Would any of these be Oscar-worthy? And should there even be a category for Best Voice Acting? Let me know what you think by commenting, liking and sharing below.


  1. Brad Bird and Robin Williams are standouts in these examples. But I am saddened that "Voice Artists" no longer exist. As I'd mentioned to you before, I consider Mel Blanc a wondrous talent and the King of voice artists, by my estimation. Those were the days when the film characters, be they animated or not, mattered much more than a great star who may have voiced him/her. And Blanc made some incredible characters come to life with the help, of course, of those at WB's Termite Terrace and other subsequent classics through the years.

    It's great you brought some attention to animation. Well deserved and well done!


    1. I'm a huge fan of animation but I didnt know who Mel Blanc was until I just googled him...embarassing. He's a legend!!! Definitely the King of Voice Artists in my eyes!You're absolutely right that it shouldn't just be about the big names but unfortunately, its those voices who bring in the extra money these days.
      Do you have any other voice acting performances you would consider in this category? That is, if it existed???

  2. That's a good point, I never thought about why there was no Voice Actor nomination, because there certainly should be.
    If one had been well established some time ago, I feel like Phil Harris certainly would have won an award for Baloo in The Jungle Book.

  3. How did I not think of him!? Phil Harris is incredible in The Jungle Book and his performance as Baloo is one of the first great voice acting roles of animation in my eyes. Good call! Are there any other performances that you would have nominated for this award over the years?