Some ‘WALL-E’ stuff

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A couple of readers recently posted “WALL-E”-related questions that warrant attention…

I don’t know much about the Oscars, but are animated films eligible for best picture? (I’m thinking of “Wall-E” here obviously).

Yes, any type of film is eligible for Best Picture, including types for which there is also a special category, i.e., animated films, documentaries, and foreign films. Only one cartoon, “Beauty and the Beast,” has ever been nominated, though, and the addition in 2001 of the Best Animated Feature category kind of ghettoizes cartoons, in my opinion. Academy voters figure, “Oh, we don’t have to bother considering the animated films for the top honors, because they have their own special category over here.”

But the fact is, animated films are often among the very best movies of any kind in a given year, and there’s already talk that “WALL-E” might break through the barriers and get a Best Picture nomination. At any rate, it’ll definitely win the Best Animated Film category.

Can it be nominated in both categories? Yes.

Should anyone be interested in the actual official rules for the Oscars, they can be found here.

Hey Eric, just wondering why you felt better about “WALL-E” than “Cars.” Here’s a quote from your “Cars” review:

“So what’s the problem? It’s hard to feel affection for the characters. They’re machines. Pixar films have often attributed human qualities to non-human things — fish, monsters, bugs, toys — but at least they were biological creatures (or, in the case of “Toy Story,” playthings in the shape of biological creatures). Cars are just cars. Even with eyes on their windshields and front grilles that look like mouths, and despite having personalities and ambitions and quirks, they’re still just machines.”

So what did “WALL-E” do better to allow you to feel affection for the talking machines? Is it the fact that they’re not real-life machines, or something else?

I dunno. For whatever reason, the “WALL-E” robots were more compelling to me than the “Cars” cars. Part of it is probably the design: WALL-E is simply a cuter, more sympathetic-looking creature than the automobiles were. But a more important factor is probably the story surrounding the characters. The plot of “Cars” is a familiar one; we’ve seen city slickers learn from humble yokels lots of times in other movies. The story in “WALL-E” is more original and more emotionally engaging. And when you think about it, part of what makes WALL-E so endearing is his situation. I suspect we might have adored him even if he weren’t drawn so cutely, just because of the predicament he’s in.

Finally, here’s something I wrote at Film.com that may be of interest: “Relax, People — the ‘Message’ in ‘WALL-E’ Is Harmless.

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