Well, the first major-media reviews are in for Wall-E, and — as we suspected — it looks like Wall-E might be the best Pixar movie ever: As entertaining as every other Pixar movie, but even more artful and visually arresting than usual. "Breathtakingly majestic and heartbreakingly intimate," says the Voice's Robert Wilonsky. Pixar "has just topped itself. Again," writes The Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt. And the Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips calls Wall-E "the best science-fiction film so far this year, the best romance so far this year and the best American studio film so far this year."
So, let the debate begin, as it does every year: Can Wall-E become the first Pixar film — and only the second-ever animated film — to get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture? Could this be the year that the Academy finally realizes that Pixar movies are the closest Hollywood comes anymore to the great, classy populist entertainments that used to be nominated for a gazillion Oscars — the kinds of movies that everyone complains have disappeared from the Academy Awards?
Without even having seen Wall-E, we can easily say that nominating it for Best Picture would be the smartest thing the Academy's done in years. Wall-E will be critically beloved: We'll lay money on no major-studio release earning a higher Metacritic score this year. Wall-E will be popularly beloved: It will definitely make more at the box office than last year's five Best Picture nominees did combined. And think of the audiences you would get for an Oscar ceremony in which lovable Wall-E faces off against whichever quasi-indies get the other four slots. It could be a return to the glorious ratings (and popular relevancy) of yesteryear.
Make it happen, Academy! Nominate Wall-E for Best Picture!
(And, while you're at it, why not nominate Roger Deakins for Best Cinematography? It turns out, awesomely, he's behind the "lighting" in Wall-E. How cool is that?)
Related: David Edelstein on Wall—E [NYM]