Wednesday, March 22, 2017

OVP: Animated Feature Film (2007)

OVP: Best Animated Feature Film (2007)

The Nominees Were...

Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, Persepolis
Brad Bird, Ratatouille
Ash Brannon and Chris Buck, Surf's Up

My Thoughts: There are times that Oscar will throw me for a loop in a category.  Situations arise where either I love two or three of the nominees equally, having to nitpick ultimately in this contest which slight flaw is enough to keep a nominee from taking the OVP.  There are other times where none of the nominees feel particularly worthy of winning an Oscar (cough 2011 Supporting Actor cough), and I end up just picking the best of a bad situation.  And then there are the rare cases like 2007's Animated Feature Film where Oscar makes it just, way, way too easy, giving me only one film that I genuinely enjoyed, who is totally worthy, and then two nominees that I just couldn't care less about.

Honestly, how do you not pick Ratatouille here?  I normally build toward some suspense, but if you've been following the 2007 Oscar Viewing Project's or read my other reviews up-top, you know that this is one of the easier Pixar victories I've encountered.  Ratatouille is a marvelous movie, as close as you probably get in terms of Pixar to a movie made almost entirely for grown-ups; it was part of that four-film streak from 2007-2010 where Disney's kid brother could do no wrong.  Here you have a charming tale (the screenplay is solid), but more importantly an ode to food, your dreams, Paris, and, well, who knew you could make those cliched topics feel rich and vibrant again?  The animation is warm and glowing, and there's nothing not to love here.  It doesn't, perhaps, hit the emotional heights of Up or the sheer ambition of WALL-E, but Ratatouille is a great movie, one that feels like an excellent meal.

The other two nominees, in my opinion, are kind of bland and uninspired by comparison.  I know that a number of people adore Persepolis, but I felt like it was one of those dull movies everyone pretends is important.  The film's animation is interesting, if a bit repetitive, but the story is erratic and inconsistent.  I get that it was based on Satrapi's life, but then she's not being honest about her memories because no person is that impressionable that late in life and still as whip smart as she writes herself.  I'm still thrown by the scene where she brags about getting a man arrested to her grandmother and "learns a lesson,"-it was so idiotic to think she'd do that and still convince us that the woman onscreen is intelligent.  All-in-all, I get why this was nominated (Oscar frequently goes to the foreign movie well here), but Persepolis only looks like a good movie.

The final nominee was the unexpected Surf's Up, probably here because we as a collective culture wanted anything with penguins to happen post-2006.  The movie itself has such a cool premise (the surfing documentary is such a neat idea for a children's movie), but every time they discard this motif, which is regularly in the second half, we increasingly get just another message movie for kids.  The problem is that the message itself is pretty questionable (have fun and don't worry about competition, which is great except for it certainly looks like "don't try" as the film ends rather than "have fun").  The vocal work is good, and the animation is occasionally quite rich, but abandoning the documentary aspect so quickly and often makes what could have been a cool surprise nomination all the worse.

Other Precursor Contenders: The Globes went for a much more mainstream fare than AMPAS in 2007.  While they picked the same winner, The Simpsons Movie and Bee Movie were the vanquished for the HFPA.  Meanwhile, the BAFTA Awards also decided to go a bit more mainstream, copying the Globes in winners/nominees save for Bee Movie being adiosed in favor of Shrek the Third.  The Annie Awards also went with Ratatouille as the winner (and considering their general Disney allergy, this is a big deal), besting Bee Movie, Persepolis, The Simpsons Movie, and Surf's Up.  The fourth place contender I would assume would be The Simpsons Movie (this was a huge hit at the time and expected by most to be a nominee), but considering that they haven't liked similar movies since (I'd bucket The Lego Movie in the same camp here), I wonder if it was in fact Bee Movie, which was a big deal even if it largely missed in terms of franchising, would have made it as Jerry Seinfeld was pushing that movie hard at the time.
Films I Would Have Nominated: It is a damn shame that in such a weak year for animation (seriously-look at the movies I just listed) that the Academy couldn't have picked a genuinely ace movie like The Simpsons Movie to be included.  Yes, it's an extended episode of the show, but it was well-crafted, smart, funny, and made the most of its big-screen position.  That they chose two paltry contenders instead is unforgivable.  In my opinion this is the biggest snub they've delivered since the inception of this category sixteen years ago.
Oscar’s Choice: Even if The Simpsons Movie had made it there's no way Pixar was losing at this point.  Ratatouille probably managed 70% of the votes.
My Choice: Ratatouille, but you knew that.  For second place I honestly think I'd go with Surf's Up, which at least entertained me even if Persepolis is more ambitious.  I'm mostly just mad that Homer didn't get to take Marge to the Oscars.

There you have it-the Animated Featured category.  Is everyone in agreement that Ratatouille deserved this trophy, or does someone want to stand out for Persepolis?  Anyone else still bitter about The Simpsons Movie missing?  And how often do you think Jerry Seinfeld watches Bee Movie now?  Share in the comments!

Past Best Animated Feature Contests: 20082009, 2010201120122013, 2014

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