Discovering this fact really surprised me.
I went to Wikipedia (yes, yes, I know...) to look for past winners, thinking the list would date back a few decades... but the category was created in 2001.
"...this was also the first year for a newly-created category - Best Animated Feature Film. According to the Academy's rules, an 'animated film' had to be at least 70 minutes in length, have a significant amount of major animated characters, and be at least 75% animated. The three nominees this year were Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Monsters, Inc., and PDI/Dreamworks' Shrek (the winner), with its lovable green ogre (Mike Myers) and smart-alec donkey (Eddie Murphy). This was the first-ever Oscar for an animated feature film."
The complete list of winners over the last decade:
Spirited Away (2002)
Finding Nemo (2003)
The Incredibles (2004)
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
Happy Feet (2006)
Toy Story 3 (2010)
Pixar clearly dominates here, with six of the 10 wins. "Monster's, Inc." (2001) and "Cars" (2006) are their two films that have lost since the creation of this Oscar category for the 74th Academy Awards.
I still am irked that for eight of the 10 years, only three films were nominated. In 2002 and 2009 five films were nominated, which I believe to be appropriate as five nominations is the most common number for the various categories (best actor/actress, best film, et cetera).
The current rules state:
If eight to 12 animated features qualify in a year, either two or three will be nominated. 13-15 qualifiers allows for up to four nominations. Finally, when sixteen or more qualify, no more than five may be nominated.
One notable accomplishment despite these restrictions: four animated feature films have been nominated outside of their given category.
For Best Picture:
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Toy Story 3 (2010)
For Best Foreign Language Film:
Walt With Bashir (2008)
To conclude this post on the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, I will put forth my predictions for the three nominees this year (based upon what we've seen in this first half of the year):
Winnie the Pooh
Kung Fu Panda 2
... I'm not sure which/if any anime or other foreign films meet the requirements for nomination at this time.