Yesterday, the world reacted with shock and disappointment when it learned that Andrew Stanton, helmer of Pixar masterpiece Wall-E, could not win an award from the Directors Guild simply because, as a director of animated films, he’s not a member of that union, and the DGA’s draconian 70-year-old rules prohibit giving its highest prize to non-members. Even so, Stanton is taking it in all stride: “I’m not part of the Directors Guild, because in animation you’re not part of that union,” he told us at last night’s New York Film Critics Circle Awards (where his movie was honored as 2008’s Best Animated Feature). But he was slightly more bullish on Wall-E’s shot at Best Picture!
Some have speculated that, due to animated films’ traditional lack of acting by real-life human beings, Wall-E may have difficulty making inroads with carbon-based thespians, the Academy’s largest voting bloc. But Stanton hopes not: “I’ve got to say that actors were very involved with the movie, even though you didn’t see their face. Nobody’s job was being replaced by a computer — there’s a human artist behind every single step of the process that’s done in our movie, so it’s pretty much a big myth. Two hundred and fifty artists worked on this film, you know? Including actors.”
But does Stanton — whose films are all universally loved by critics and well rewarded at the box-office, and who famously told the Times last summer, “I never think about the audience … If someone gives me a marketing report, I throw it away” — even care about winning an Oscar? Apparently he does! “Certainly as a filmmaker, it’s the sort of biggest award there is in that sense,” he told us. “And there’s something special about it because you’re voted on by your peers, the people that you respect, that made you want to go into the movies, and that’s a huge pat on the back. So yeah, it means a lot.”