Chalk one up for ‘WALL-E’

Posted by · 6:12 am · November 11th, 2008

The Academy has revealed the 14-strong shortlist of films competing in the Best Animated Feature category, and, well, it doesn’t make for very inspiring reading. What’s most significant about the news is that it means the nominees will, as usual, be limited to three films; to accommodate five, more than 15 shortlisted titles are required. That has only happened once before, in 2002. Here’s the list:

“Bolt”; “Delgo”; “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!”; “Dragon Hunters”; “Fly Me to the Moon”; “Igor”; “Kung Fu Panda”; “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa”; “$9.99”; “The Sky Crawlers”; “Sword of the Stranger”; “The Tale of Despereaux”; “WALL-E”; “Waltz With Bashir”

It’s a nail-biting race. “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” may appear to be the locked-in frontrunner, but “Bolt” has Academy veteran Miley Cyrus powering its chances, and watch out for the lovely Australian stop-motion work “$9.99,” which is creeping up on the outside lane, and could take it all…

Okay, okay, forgive me for trying to make it sound a little more exciting. (I am pleased to see “$9.99” in there, though.) I think we can safely eliminate most of the titles on the list from consideration — even if the voters have in the past nominated the odd head-scratching dud. (“Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius,” anyone?) Anyway, We all know “WALL-E” is winning this by a country mile, so the only thing left to ponder is which two films it will beat.

“Waltz With Bashir” appears to be the next likeliest prospect, though the Academy has a hit-and-miss record of acknowledging non-family-oriented animation in this category. Ari Folman’s much-admired work looks to be on a similar course to “Persepolis” last year, but I’d feel more certain of its chances if it were half the film “Persepolis” is. (From where I stand, it’s intriguing, but not a home run.) I still think it’s in.

I’m guessing the last slot is a toss-up between “Kung Fu Panda” and “The Tale of Despereaux,” both seemingly the kind of safe, pretty family efforts featuring cute anthropomorphic critters that usually scrape into the category. I’ll go with “Despereaux,” if only because I was mildly charmed by the trailer.

Best Animated Feature remains, for me, the least interesting Oscar category — principally, because, in its seven years of existence, there has only once been a genuine race for the award. (I’ve personally never failed to call this category, which isn’t a good sign.) There’s almost always a crowd-pleasing juggernaut that crushes the competition, and deserving of recognition as they often are, I can’t help wondering if the category might be better off existing as a Special Achievement Award.

Anyway, congratulations, “WALL-E.” Please collect your Oscar, do not pass go, and so on.

→ 12 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

12 responses so far

  • 1 11-11-2008 at 7:19 am

    AJ said...

    The next year that there will be a real fight for Animated Feature will be 2011, because there are two pixar films coming out. I wonder if swapping Newt for Cars 2 had anything to do with the Oscars. The Bear and the Bow will likely win over Cars 2, but they might feel bad about being morons and awarding the horrible, preachy Happy Feet.

  • 2 11-11-2008 at 7:42 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I don’t see why they should feel bad — Happy Feet was bizarre, but it was a hell of a lot more interesting than Cars.

  • 3 11-11-2008 at 9:03 am

    Luke Gorham said...

    Agreed, whole-heartedly. To my mind, “Cars” is Pixar’s only dud.

  • 4 11-11-2008 at 9:22 am

    Nicole said...

    Okay I know this is off-topic, but this guy has seen Benjamin Button and givs his review.

    I know it is just his opinion , but he thinks that it will get some technical nods and maybe one for Taraji for supporting actress . He states that in the comment sections. Overall he liked it, didn’t love it.

    “Regarding this movie’s Oscar-worthiness, it will probably get some technical noms. Best Picture? Maybe, because this has been a really weak year and I don’t see many other exciting prospects on the horizon. Pitt might get one because what he did was difficult but he might be eclipsed by showier turns from the male leads in movies like MILK, FROST/NIXON or THE WRESTLER. I like what he did but it’s hard to get all fired up about such a passive character. I don’t know if Cate Blanchett’s role was complex enough for her to garner a nom. If anyone has a chance, it would be Taraji P. Henson for Supporting Actress.”

    I know everyone has been passing along hearsay from a friend, but this guy actually saw it, so I’d thought I’d share.

  • 5 11-11-2008 at 9:53 am

    Nicole said...

    Here’s the Poster

  • 6 11-11-2008 at 10:09 am

    Silencio said...

    I keep going back and forth over WALL-E and Kung Fu Panda. I feel that WALL-E is more ambitious and visionary, but Kung Fu Panda was more fun and surprising. The style of animation was also more enjoyable to me in Kung Fu Panda. The best part of WALL-E was the closing credits, but it is a quality film. I just think I’d watch Kung Fu Panda more often than WALL-E.

  • 7 11-11-2008 at 10:17 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Wall-E is a miracle of a film, a masterpiece. Waltz With Bashir is also brilliant but indeed a bit too grim for this category. Kung Fu Panda has earned big bucks plust it’s no sequel, which gives it an edge over Madagascar 2.
    So that’s Wall-E, Waltz With Bashir, and Kung Fu Panda for me.

  • 8 11-11-2008 at 12:47 pm

    Tom said...

    It seems like everyone’s a bit quick to write off “Horton Hears A Who!” which is thought had a critical and box-office reception similar to that of “Kung Fu Panda.”

  • 9 11-11-2008 at 12:48 pm

    Tom said...

    Sorry, “I thought,” not “is thought.”

  • 10 11-11-2008 at 2:08 pm

    Nigel said...

    It is surprising they don’t allow anime films for consideration due to the small number of animated films released in North America each year. It definitely would help the credibility of the category.

  • 11 11-11-2008 at 2:44 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Yeah, I agree about Horton. It’s certainly a possibility.
    BTW I’ve just seen Madagascar 2 and Kung Fu Panda is certainly better in many ways. Perhaps Zimmer and Will.I.Am might get an original song nod. Now that would be crazy.

  • 12 11-12-2008 at 2:18 am

    Glenn said...

    Nigel, if more of them were submitted then they would be. But a lot of anime films don’t get theatrical releases outside of festivals and special screenings that don’t count towards a film’s eligibility.