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Why Can’t Wall-E Be Best Picture?

Excerpt from I’ll Replace You (2008)

With four of the slots in 2008's Best Picture race presumably going to Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Slumdog Millionaire, and Milk, Gold Derby's Tom O'Neil today asks a collection of Oscar bloggers if they think Pixar's Wall-E might land the fifth one. The general consensus? Probably not: "As much as I'd like to see it happen — Wall-E was one of my favorites this year — I doubt it will," says one. "There are too many good live-action films vying for those five spots," claims another. Some think there's a small chance thanks to Wall-E's strong support base, along with the Oscars' preferential ballot (which lets voters weight their top choices), but most agree that the Academy's institutional bias against animation is just too strong, particularly since the creation of the Best Animated Feature category in 2001. But so what?

We know, Beauty and the Beast is the only animated film nominated for Best Picture in the Academy Awards' 80-year history. But, apart from its not being live action, what does Wall-E really have to do with its animated forebears? We can easily see how voters might've written off a Pixar classic like Ratatouille as kids' stuff — even if it was last year's top-reviewed movie — since it was about an adorable rat who learned to make dinner. But this one stars a rusted, outmoded garbage-compacting automaton tasked with cleaning up Earth after a freaking apocalypse — not even the most jaded cartoon-hating cinema snob could accuse Wall-E of existing just to sell stuffed animals. Has there ever been a darker, more subversive mass-market animated movie? Was there a darker, more subversive live-action movie released this year? Frankly, we still don't totally believe that it actually got made (and went on to earn half a billion dollars). If the Academy were ever going to break tradition and nominate a "kids" movie, we bet it'd be for one like this. Is a Best Picture nod unlikely? Maybe, but we still think it might happen.

Will 'Wall-E' be nominated for best picture at the Oscars? [Gold Derby/LAT]

Photo: Courtesy of Pixar