Apple TV+ is far more than merely the Severance and Ted Lasso network.
A year after CODA broke through the mainstream to make Hollywood history with three Oscar wins including Best Picture, Apple’s streaming video service took home yet another statue over the weekend when the film The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
Apple put out a press release late Sunday touting the win.
“We are so proud of Charlie [Mackesy, the creator] and the brilliant team who brought The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse to the screen and we sincerely thank the Academy for tonight’s recognition,” said Apple Worldwide Video co-lead Zack Van Amburg in a statement for the press release. “This powerful story has deeply affected audiences around the world and has shown that no matter what age you are or where you live, it’s never too late to spread more compassion, empathy, and kindness in our daily lives. Congratulations to everyone involved, including our teams across the globe. We are all celebrating with you tonight.”
For his part, Van Amburg’s co-leader Jamie Erlicht said in part the film “shines a light on the magic of discovering connection in unexpected places, and we are honored that the Academy has awarded this beautifully moving film tonight.”
Regular readers of the column may recall I did an interview with Mackesy back in December ahead of the film’s debut on Christmas Day. Although not as overt in its depiction of disability as its TV+ brethren in See or Best Foot Forward (both of which have seen coverage here in the past), insofar as blindness or limb differences, respectively, are the thrust of the plot, Mackesy’s film nonetheless makes the point that mental health matters. More pointedly, poor mental health can be as disabling in its own right as any physical condition disables a person.
“I think general connection is what the book is about: how we really process and how we share life and how we go about communicating,” Mackesy said to me a few months ago about the film’s main theme and his intended purpose for it. “I suppose when we do that healthily, we get healthy mentally. I feel that, to just say the book is [primarily] about mental health is a mistake. It’s about existence. It’s about being human. It’s about connection and hope and fear and frailty.”
From a personal perspective, as a literal child of deaf adults who struggles mightily with maintaining positive mental health, it’s a bonafide ego-booster—reporters are human beings too—to see two pieces of media not only represent me journalistically, but also represent me in terms of my lived experiences. As I tweeted, it’s cool to see two pieces of entertainment I’ve done reportage on win major accolades; cooler still is, again, the representational angles inherent to both in terms of disability. My beat is not the entertainment world, but the angles with tech and disability in television and film are obvious and worth sharing. This is especially the case if a consumer technology company like Apple insist on leveraging their massive war chest to roll their own streaming service. The confluence of technology, disability, and Hollywood is important to recognize.
With The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse winning in Los Angeles, Apple noted “Apple Original films, documentaries, and series have earned 345 wins and 1,421 award nominations and counting.” This includes the aforementioned Emmy Award-winning Ted Lasso, whose third season premieres today on Apple TV+.
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse is available to stream now.