The New York Times critic Glenn Kenny said the animation of “Dear Basketball” had “gorgeous fluency,” but that the film was “substance-free, an advertisement for itself. It deserves to not receive an Oscar for that reason alone.”
“Dear Basketball” triumphed over “Garden Party,” about animals taking over a deserted mansion; “Lou,” about the contents of a lost and found box teaching a lesson to a bully; “Negative Space,” about learning to pack a suitcase; and “Revolting Rhymes,” a Roald Dahl adaptation.
In a year with intense focus on improper sexual behavior by men, many of them in the entertainment industry, Bryant’s victory caused a stir. An outcry when the film was nominated repeated itself on Sunday night, with some viewers and commentators pointing out that Bryant had been accused of rape in 2003. That case was ultimately dropped when the accuser declined to testify. Bryant said he believed the encounter was consensual, but acknowledged later that the woman did not.
Others, including Shaquille O’Neal, sent Bryant their congratulations. (O’Neal was overlooked for an Oscar for his lead role as a genie in “Kazaam.”)
Bryant’s Oscar joins a silverware collection that includes aMost Valuable Player Award, two N.B.A. Finals M.V.P.s, and five N.B.A. titles.