Friday, May 13, 2016

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Animated Feature 2007

The Contenders:

Ratatouille (winner)
Surf’s Up

What’s Missing

The year in animation for 2007 is another one of those years where it looks like slim pickings on the animation front, but there are a couple of notable films that were ignored. My guess is that The Simpsons Movie wasn’t nominated because the animation isn’t of a sort normally picked for Best Animated Feature. Beowulf, which was motion captured, seems like the sort of film that isn’t typically nominated. I haven’t seen or heard a great deal of good about Happily N’Ever After, Meet the Robinsons, or Bee Movie so I can’t really comment and I haven’t heard much good about Shrek the Third. Sadly, Hellboy: Blood and Iron was released direct to video. In a perfect world, it would have been eligible.

Weeding through the Nominees

3: I honestly don’t have a thing against penguins, but for the second animated feature year in a row, I’m putting the penguin movie on the bottom. I don’t dislike Surf’s Up as much as I did Happy Feet, but I still didn’t like it much. The biggest problem is that character for character and plot point for plot point, Surf’s Up is nothing more than a remake of Cars with penguins standing in for the vehicles. Sure, penguins are an interesting twist except that the previous year’s winner in this category was about penguins. If stealing from multiple sources is considered research, Surf’s Up is too well researched.

2. The nomination of Persepolis would seem to belie the idea that Oscar won’t nominate a film with a more rudimentary style of animation. If I’m completely far, this is also the best of the three movies in terms of message and importance. Persepolis is a great story and one worth seeing, and I love that it was nominated because it’s the sort of film I might otherwise skip. Really, though, these Friday posts are often about where my heart lies and not my head, and for all of its qualities, Persepolis comes behind the movie I’m putting first. That said, I could easily see someone choosing this as the winner.

My Choice

1: I don’t cry at sad in movies; I tend to tear up when there are moments of emotional perfection—when what I’m seeing on the screen is so clearly perfect in some sense that I lose some control. Ratatouille has one of those moments at the end, when food critic Anton Ego is mentally sent back in time to his childhood from his first bite of food. It’s perfect because it’s the sort of thing that can’t be put in words but is also immediately identifiable as a shared experience, like the moment the man finds his childhood toys in Amelie. There’s such beauty in having a moment like that, and conveying it through a cartoon and inspired by a rat shows skill at the very highest level. Even if the rest of the film wasn’t any good, it would be noteworthy for this moment. Good thing the rest of the film is grand as well. Great choice, Oscar.

Final Analysis


  1. Have to disagree with you on this one. I actually like Ratatouille...a lot. Still, my vote would go to Persepolis. And i would definitely nominate The Simpsons Movie in place of Surf's Up.

    1. I'm cool with a vote for Persepolis. I love the nomination if only for the fact that it's not a movie for kids and we need more of that in the category.

  2. Agree. Ratatouille is a great film and Ego's first bite is one of those perfect moments in film that Pixar is really good at creating. I'm tearing up just thinking about it.

    I also love Meet the Robinsons. It skews a little young and the utter weirdness of the Robinson family bothers me, but the movie has a great message about family, some really fun time-travel ideas, and one of the best villains ever, the Bowler Hat Guy. Meet the Robinsons also comes really close a couple of times to creating perfect moments. People say Wreck it Ralph started the golden age of Disney computer animation, but I think it started with Robinsons.

    1. Tangled is generally what I've heard as the start of the current age of Disney. Since both Bolt and The Princess and the Frog come between Meet the Robinsons and Tangled, I'm inclined to think that might be the case. There's nothing that special about Bolt and The Princess and the Frog is good without being great.

      Ratatouille, though, is substantially better than its premise.