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Where Are the Family Films in the 2022 Oscar Nominations?

The Academy has an opportunity to elevate quality films for kids and families.

Topics: Quality Media

When the list of Oscar-nominated films for 2022 was recently announced, we saw family movies being underappreciated yet again. The Academy Awards have long tended to recognize films aimed at older teens and adults, but given the significant audience in the younger age ranges, we believe the Academy is overlooking an opportunity to recognize a more inclusive movie landscape.

Here are three reasons why the Academy should NOT ignore family films:

Family films better represent the viewing audience that pays to see films, which significantly contributes to the industry's success.

Ticket sales generally hover between $150 and $300 million for kids' movies each year. Spider-Man: No Way Home had the biggest box office numbers of 2021 -- and is an extremely entertaining movie -- but earned only one Oscar nomination (for Visual Effects). We know families are contributing to Hollywood's bottom line, but the selection of nominations is leaving them out.

The Best Animated Feature category (created in 2002) is typically the only one that many kids and families watching at home feel like they have a real stake in. But it's too simplistic to equate all family movies with animated films. And some of the animated films are definitely not for little kids (Flee, for example).

An Oscar nomination can help audiences find a movie they might have otherwise overlooked and broaden their perspective.

A more inclusive selection of nominees helps shine the spotlight on smaller and more diverse films with more modest marketing budgets. And the films that are nominated this year will affect what gets green-lit next year, setting a benchmark for the future across all genres and audience segments, including family films. The Academy has a huge opportunity to visibly elevate great family films in the industry.

Movies that are made with kids in mind shouldn't be overlooked for their contribution to the canon of films worth watching.

One of the last family movies with a G rating to be nominated for Best Picture was Babe ... in 1996. Babe is a story about aspiring to be something bigger than yourself and achieving it against all odds, a timeless message that's still relevant today. And even since 2009, when the Best Picture category was expanded to up to 10 nominations instead of five, only three films that we rated as appropriate for kids under 10 -- Up, Toy Story 3, and Hugo -- have earned Best Picture nods.

The Academy should avoid the appearance of dismissing family films as "merely" entertainment and therefore not worthy of being honored at the highest level. Family movies have messages that everyone can relate to, and they're not all simple stories. The Academy needs to overcome Hollywood's enduring bias against family films and celebrate genuine artistry regardless of a film's rating or target audience.

Common Sense Media honored more than 30 movies with the Common Sense Media Selection seal in 2021 for offering exceptional viewing experiences to families with kids 12 and under. With so many movies hitting the mark across our extensive ratings rubric, their underrepresentation at the Oscars creates a noticeable void.

Families need to know that there are many great family movie night picks out there, even if they aren't bringing home golden statues in March. From the aforementioned Spider-Man: No Way Home to Ron's Gone Wrong to Encanto and Ghostbusters: Afterlife, there's something out there for every kid -- and every family.

Betsy Bozdech

Betsy's experiences working in online parenting and entertainment content were the perfect preparation for her role as Common Sense's editorial director. After earning bachelor's and master's degrees from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in 1997, she began her editorial career at BabyCenter.com and then served as an editor at Reel.com, Emode.com, and AOL's Digital City before working as the site content manager at Netflix for three years -- and then joining Common Sense Media in 2006. She's a lifelong movie and TV fan (favorites include The Princess Bride, 30 Rock, Some Like It Hot, Saturday Night Live, and Star Wars) and is delighted to have a job that makes keeping up on celebrity and pop culture news a necessity -- which, in turn, helps give her (a little) cred with her two kids.

In her role at Common Sense, Betsy has had the privilege of moderating a Comic-Con panel, serving as a juror for the San Francisco Film Festival, touring the set of Imagination Movers, interviewing filmmakers like The Good Dinosaur's Peter Sohn, and much more. She is also a member of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists.

Follow her on Twitter.