Beowulf has been approved by the Academy’s animation committee as one of the twelve animated features eligible for the Best Animated Feature Oscar! I’ve confirmed this twice with an Academy spokesperson…amazing news! Robert Zemeckis, Roger Avary and Neil Gaiman‘s film now stands an excellent chance of taking the prize because it’s such an eye-filling mind-blower — a truly revolutionary step in the delivery of 3D thrills and animated envelope-pushing.
What this decision really means is that it’s now down to a contest between Beowulf (emblematic of the new realms and wonders of mo-cap digital animation that are now upon us) and Ratatouille (a perfectly respectable and in fact beautifully rendered example of ’90s style animation). What makes this extra significant is that one of the old-guard voices who opposed Beowulf‘s Oscar- qualification is Pixar animation chief John Lasseter, who executive-produced Ratatouille.
So it’s a mano e mano between the rat vs. the dragon slayer. And as much as I hate to say it, given how touching, beautifully written and superbly made as Ratatouille is, HE feels that the rat needs to lose.
Not because it lacks anything as a film (far from it), but because Lasseter needs to be slapped around for trying to impede the forces of the brave new digital world. Let this be a lesson to all older fuddy-duds everywhere. If you try and block or discredit the new thing (whatever that thing may be), you are inviting the wrath of the forward thinkers of the world, and you may pay a price for this.
The other qualified titles are Alvin and the Chipmunks (semi-qualified pending viewing by the committee), Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters, Bee Movie, Meet the Robinsons, Persepolis, Shrek the Third, The Simpsons Movie, Surf’s Up, Tekkonkinkreet and TMNT.
As I wrote to Beowulf producer-writer Roger Avary last week, “[Your] film is obviously animated through and through. It deserves the Best Feature Animation Oscar, bar none. I don’t care what anyone says — this is not live-action except in the most rudimentary sense of the physical acting aspects, which represent, in my view, a relatively small portion of the whole.”