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Oscars tragedy: Voters will have to snub Johnny Depp in 'Rango'

Poor Johnny Depp. It's bad enough that one of Hollywood's hottest superstars is still Oscarless after three past defeats: "Sweeney Todd" (2007), "Finding Neverland" (2004) and "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" (2003). Now it looks like "Rango" is such a financial and critical success that it may be an Oscar contender for best animated feature next year, but Depp himself can't be nominated.

Johnny Depp Rango entertainment movie news

That's because the Oscars don't have what the Emmys do: a separate category for voice-over performances. Isn't it time the Academy Awards created one? (Let's hear everybody's voices pipe in here, please: Yes!)

The TV academy has been recognizing the contributions of vocal talents since 1992. Until 2008, the winner of lead voice-over performance was chosen by a jury, which meant there wasn’t a list of nominees. Two years ago, the Emmys revamped the category to include a list of six contenders.

Dan Castellaneta ("The Simpsons") was the first winner under these new rules in 2009. At last year's ceremony, Anne Hathaway won her first Emmy for a guest stint on "The Simpsons," which has claimed 14 of these awards over the years. (It's unlikely that Hathaway will get any kind of award recognition for her recent work on the Oscarcast -- she and James Franco "won" our online poll as the worst hosts of the Academy Awards in the last two decades.)

Had the Oscars followed suit in 1992 and created a voice-over category, the likes of Tom Hanks ("Toy Story"), Mike Myers ("Shrek"), Paul Newman ("Cars"), Anika Noni Rose ("The Princess and the Frog") and Ed Asner ("Up") all could have been rewarded for their remarkable work.

Animation is one of the most successful genres of filmmaking. Pixar has never had a film take in less than $150 million domestically, and last year's "Toy Story 3" was the top-grossing movie of 2010, animated or otherwise, with a domestic haul of $415 million.

A common complaint from casual Oscars viewers is that there are too many technical awards and not enough performance ones. Of the two dozen competitive categories, only four Oscars go to actors and actresses. One more category featuring familiar faces could both downplay this rap and goose up ratings, which were down about 10% this year over last.

It's time for the academy to realize the potential of this untapped goldmine. Leading off the first lead voice-over race could be Johnny Depp. Other nominees this year could include two-time Oscar champs Dustin Hoffman ("Kung Fu Panda 2") and Maggie Smith ("Gnomeo & Juliet"). Double Academy Award winner Michael Caine could even compete against himself -- he's in both "Gnomeo & Juliet" and "Cars 2."

One-time Oscar contender Joan Cusack features in "Mars Needs Moms!" Hathaway is in "Rio." Other vocal talents on display include Bill Nighy ("Rango"), Owen Wilson ("Cars 2"), Jonathan Winters ("The Smurfs") and Antonio Banderas ("Puss in Boots").

-- Tom O'Neil

Photos: "Rango," left, Johnny Depp at "Rango" premiere. Credits: Paramount, left, Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (12)

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Animated or not, Johnny deserves 3 oscars in one night.

1 his an amazing actor
2 his movies will never date
3 for his wonderful sense of humour

and why not throw another one in for his good looks, gentle manner and simply a nice person.

It is the actor that make these animated personality's real. Without the person behind the voice, it is just a character. The actor makes it come alive and be lovable and believable. Just like we can identify with a character because a person is a good actor, we can believe and love an animated character because the person behind him makes him soo real, lovable and identifyable. That person enables us to get into that film and want to watch it and relate it to us or how things could be. That takes talent and it should most definatly be recognized!

I couldn't agree more!

I completely agree! With the amazing performances that come out of the animated movies this for sure needs to be a category that's added to the Oscars!
Movies such as Toy Story and Shrek do amazing in the box office and deserve to win awards in animation and direction but we can't forget the people that bring the characters to life we there voice.
Come on Academy add a Voice Over category!

No one ever said the Oscar selections or categories were fair, but you are correct: with the increase in box office winning animation the Academy should start to recognize the talents of those voice over actors who drive them. I am a fan of Johnny Depp, but many others deserve to be nominated for their powerful vocal acting chops. Any actor worth his/her SAG card can project a winning portrayal when they have facial emotions & body language to drive home a performance, but not many can do it with voice alone. So, I say...Wake up Academy! Animation is saving Hollywood, and you need to recognize the contributions of the actors who are voicing those films.

I totally agree with Cindy Myhra. There should be Oscar nominee for comedies and best comedic actors then we would have some really good,worth watching comedies.Johnny's Sam from "Benny&Joon" could definitely have had Oscar. What about animated films,I wouldn't mind if Academy include such nominee.I hope that one day Johnny eventually will win Oscar or a few Oscars

Loved Rango - Depp, Nighy, Isla & all the voice cast were perfect. But as far as your list, don't forget Robin Williams in Aladdin - fantastic! The evil sorcered in that wasn't too shabby, either.

Joan Cusack is a two-time Oscar nominee.

Why are we even talking about this? Does it even matter?

Ellen Degeneres deserved one for Finding Nemo

It's a bit over the top to call this a "tragedy." Whatever this is...and it may be an omission by the Academy that needs to be corrected and recognized...this is no tragedy.

The Emmys also have categories for comedy films as well. Depp could have had 4 or 5 Oscars by now if his performances of the 1990's would have been nominated. Well don't think Oscar people will change, they don't see talent in front of them if they were knocked over the head with it.


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