Academy members, like everyone else, prefer to watch the movies that seem to "speak" to them. In 2012, the Academy was 94 percent white, 2 percent black, 77 percent male and had an average age of 63. Today, thanks to lots of very vocal complaints, people of color are now around 10 percent of the Academy voters, and 25 percent are female. But that still makes white dudes by far the majority of the Academy. And that's why movies about the struggles of white dudes in the entertainment industry will continue doing better in the Oscars than, say, movies about the Civil Rights movement or movies about Charlize Theron stub-punching Tom Hardy.
This brings us to another point ...
The Academy Awards Don't Mean The Same Thing To Every Voter
Hey, quick question: What are the criteria for determining which animated film of the year was "best"? Should you vote on the overall quality of the film? Or just the quality of the animation? Or how ambitious and difficult the animation was to pull off? Nobody knows! Animation is one of the award categories voters consistently have no fucking idea how to handle. Here's Jane's tactic:
"For best animated film, I'm going to pick the movie I enjoyed with my grandchildren the most. A few years ago, there was a good Japanese movie that took place around WWII that I was going to vote for (this movie), but my grandkids loved Frozen so much that I voted for that instead."
How do you say "Let it go" in Japanese?
We're not attacking Jane here; Frozen's a fine movie. But the fact that she sees animation as inherently for children has a significant impact on how she votes and thus on who wins. Voting in the Academy Awards isn't like serving on a jury. The name of the award may be specific, but everybody votes based on their own personal criteria. That's actually less a problem for big tentpole awards like Best Actor or Best Picture than it is for technical awards. Certain aspects of filmmaking are just much harder to judge, as production sound mixer Christian Dolan, who is not a member of the Academy, explained:
"Imagine a cooking award. If something is well-cooked but poorly seasoned, is the dish still good? The grill cook gets an award, but the sous chef who finishes doesn't?" Because of that, the "showiest" sound mixes typically get the award -- war films and anything sci-fi, for example. Even though, as Dolan points out, "actually getting good dialog on location is one of the hardest challenges."