Nose on the Prize, but Which Oscar to Sniff?
Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios
Remy and Linguini in “Ratatouille.”
By MICHAEL CIEPLY
The New York Times
Published: November 28, 2007
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 27 — Eddie Valiant, the hard-nosed private eye played by Bob Hoskins in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit,"wasn’t about to fiddle with animation. “Forget it,” he said. “I don’t work Toontown.”
Now the makers of "Ratatouille" are about to find out if Valiant also speaks for the movie academy in Hollywood.
As the awards season heats up, the Walt Disney Company and its Pixar Animation Studios unit have been wrestling with a conundrum posed by their warmly received, computer-animated fable about a rat who aspires to become a Parisian chef: Any move to promote it as the year’s best picture might lead to ballot-splitting that would diminish its chances of getting the less prestigious but more easily won Oscar for best animated film.
More than a technical issue, the dilemma goes to the heart of Hollywood’s evolving attitude toward animated movies. Only one, "Beauty and the Beast," also from Disney, has ever been nominated for best picture by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (It lost in 1992 to "The Silence of the Lambs.") In 2002 "Shrek" became the first winner of an Oscar for best animated feature.Disney executives declined to discuss their award-season strategy for “Ratatouille.” But early indications show the studio walking an awkward line between reaching for the big prize and pointing voters toward the smaller one.
A two-page advertisement in Monday’s Daily Variety, for instance, described “Ratatouille” as “the best-reviewed film of the year ... around the world.” But it modestly offered the picture “pour votre considération” only as best animated feature, while also mentioning the screenwriter and director Brad Bird.http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/28/mo...es&oref=sloginDon Hahn, who produced “Beauty and the Beast” for Disney, meanwhile acknowledged that his own film might not have entered the record books with a best-picture nomination if the animated category had existed at the time.
“I hate to think that,” said Mr. Hahn, an executive vice president for Disney’s animation unit. “But as a voter, you tend to categorize animation as a genre as opposed to a technique.”
An admirer of “Ratatouille,” Mr. Hahn said he would be pleased to see that picture and its producer, Brad Lewis, end his own status as the only producer whose film was nominated for more than Toontown honors. “I absolutely want some company,” he said.