Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"I... I like good food, ok? And... good food is... hard for a rat to find!"

Indeed, good food is hard for a rat to find. So is an Academy Award. That may change, however, since Pixar Animation Studies and the Walt Disney Company are considering promoting its rat-filled film Ratatouille as the year's best picture, not just the year's best animated picture. In the long history of the Academy Awards, only one animated picture was nominated for the top prize - 1991's Beauty and the Beast.

Under the academy’s rules, films nominated for best animated feature are automatically considered eligible for best picture. Similarly, their actors — though delivering only voice performances — are eligible for general acting nominations, though none have ever received one, and their writers and directors are similarly eligible for general awards.

But studios like Disney and DreamWorks Animation, which made Shrek, have come to fear that a push for best-picture votes, however well deserved, will pull some fans among the academy’s 6,000 voting members toward that category, while others cast a vote for animation.

Members could vote for the film in both categories. But Oscar campaigners assume that many would choose just one — a dangerous situation, given the small voting pool and the razor-thin margins that can determine a winner. Such a split could leave even a film as widely admired as Ratatouille — A. O. Scott, co-chief film critic for The New York Times, called it “a nearly flawless piece of popular art, as well as one of the most persuasive portraits of an artist ever committed to film” — without a prize.
Meanwhile a strong competitor like, say, Persepolis, about growing up in Iran, might slip into the animated winner’s circle.

Ratatouille is certainly the most charming movie of the year. I don't know if it's worthy of the top Oscar, but it should definitely be considered for the writing category. Anton Ego is one of the best characters of the year, animated or otherwise. He delivers one of the best lines in cinema - "I don't like food, I love it. If I don't love it, I don't swallow."

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