It was the advent and huge popularity of 3d animated films that caused the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to create a category specifically for animated films at the Oscar Awards. It’s called the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and it’s been awarded each year since 2001. That was the year Shrek was released and it also happened to take home the trophy. Up to that point the release of animated films simply wasn’t common enough to warrant a category all on its own. There simply wouldn’t have been enough nominees. Thanks to Pixar and the huge boom in popularity and quality of animated films there were more than enough nominees each year to warrant an award that people would care about. Thus they’ve been giving it out every year since and the number of worth nominees has only grown.