“Ratatouille” issue isn’t an issue

Late to the table on Michael Cieply‘s 11.28 N.Y. Times piece about Disney and Pixar wanting to push Ratatouille for Best Picture rather than the “less prestigious,” ghetto-ized Best Animated Feature Oscar. Answer: the Best Animated Feature Oscar is a very high honor and should be regarded as such. Only the very best animated films are considered so what’s the problem? The friends of Ratatouille should leave well enough alone and stay on their side of the fence.

34 thoughts on ““Ratatouille” issue isn’t an issue

  1. For me, Ratatouille really IS the best film of the year (though a lot of end-of-year awards bait has yet to be released in New Zealand). But I kind of figured the best animated category means no animated film will ever be nominated for best picture again.

  2. Sorry, the Animated Feature Oscar isn’t a high honor. Sure, an Academy Award is great, but its importance is diminished if you’re only competing against a handful (rarely above 20) of films.

    Honestly, did any of the 3 nominees last year have any business being considered “Oscar-worthy”? They all ranged from “tedious” to “not bad I guess”, but none of them deserved to take home an award.

    The category is an obvious concession to the finanical popularity of the genre. Sometimes, truly exceptional films are in the mix, but if you’ve got a weak year, it means that the pickings are slim and/or the winner is subpar.

  3. THe problem? There aren’t even enough animated movies released most years to warrant having five nominees (last year missed it by one when they decided Arthur and the Invisibles wasn’t animated enough, if I remember right). If you made a really good movie, would you want it declared “the best out of these 15 in the genre” or “the best overall”?

  4. Thanks for the condescension (“stay on your side of the fence”? wtf) but the whole point is that yes, many of us think this is one of the very best of the year.

  5. Ironic that the New York Times should promote it for Best Picture when they themselves shamefully created a children’s best-selling list seperate from the “grown-ups” list after caving to pressure from “serious” novelists indignant over the success of the Harry Potter novels.

  6. The problem is that “The friends of Ratatouille should leave well enough alone and stay on their side of the fence”, I’m sure a common thought, unfairly dismisses a film that is superior than several of the Best Picture contenders. The post takes an incredibly patronizing stance, interpreted by me as, “There, there, Brad. You made a good computer movie for kids, but we’re here to discuss grown-up stuff.”

  7. If this was the best film of the year, then boy was this a more mediocre than usual year for film. Probably because this has been such a crappy year for general entertainment films it looks so much better to critics.

    RATATOUILLE is mildly enjoyable flick that never seems to make it to the next level. It is minor Pixar, a somewhat poorer cousin of THE INCREDIBLES, FINDING NEMO and TOY STORY. At least it was better than CARS.

    Which reminds me, when is Brad Bird going to do another original story?

  8. “Only the very best animated films are considered so what’s the problem?”

    The 12 finalists, the movies which are considered for the nomination, are:
    Alvin and the Chipmunks, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters, Bee Movie, Beowulf, Meet the Robinsons, Persepolis, Ratatouille, Shrek the Third, The Simpsons Movie, Surf’s Up, Tekkon Kinkreet and TMNT

    I’m not knocking every movie on that list, but to say that only the best are considered is obviously untrue just based on the first movie on the list.

    Past nominees for this award include: Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Ice Age, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Treasure Planet, Brother Bear, Shark Tale, Corpse Bride, and Monster House (as well as ‘Cars’ which, apparently, I’m the only person in the world who liked).

    You’re just trying to inflate the value of the award because you think ‘Beowulf’ is going to win. Once ‘Beowulf’ loses, you’re going to be screaming just as loud about how bad the category is, especially if it loses to ‘The Simpsons’, which it easily could.

  9. In some ways I prefer Ratatouille to The Incredibles, but neither is as complete as Iron Giant (for me at any rate).
    Yes the animated category somewhat ghettoizes animation, but up until they created the category, how many animated films were nominated for Best Picture? Beauty and the Beast. One. Am I missing anything else?
    Let’s face it folks, with or without the category, Ratatouille faces an uphill battle to be recognized in the big 5 – and I speak as someone who does love it.

  10. The Incredibles was easily one of the best of 2004. It was better than Ray, The Aviator, Finding Neverland and Million Dollar Baby (not Sideways, but Sideways didn’t win BP).

    That was a good mix of BP nominees, but it’s 2007, we have the benefit of hindsight: The Incredibles belonged in that list, not in the ghetto.

  11. Ratatouille should not be in the running for Best Picture because it is not even close to being one of the top 5 pictures of the year, and I agree that it is nowhere near the quality of The Incredibles. This is a remarkable year for films. No Country for Old Men and The Assassination of Jesse James are two of the best movies I have ever seen. I’m thrilled to get two masterpieces like this in one year (and I haven’t even seen There Will Be Blood, which could top them both.)

  12. Just out of curiousity RoyBatty, what would you consider ‘major’ Pixar films? Not arguing, just wondering.

    For the record I’m going with The Incredibles.

    I loved Rat when I saw it, but it’s been eclipsed by a bunch of better movies as far as “best of the year” picks go.

  13. “Their side of the fence?” I am generally a hater of the Oscars partly because it breeds this kind of elitist thinking. For a film to be a legit Best Picture contender it needs to be the “right kind” of great film. Is there anything worse than the ponderous, self-important, bloated pieces of shit that are made simply to bait Oscar voters? By creating all the sub-categories, the Academy is marginalizing animated films and documentaries. I’ll go the NY Times one better, I think Brad Bird should be considered as a Best Director nominee. He will likely get nominated for screenplay (as he did for The Incredibles). Bird is one of the best filmmakers working today, it’s a shame the Academy sneers at his work.

  14. Jeff, why are you so vexed about people who already have one of one award making a play for a higher award? I didn’t love Ratatouille (I still think Brad Bird’s best film is Iron Giant, by a long ways), but others did, and when it’s by no means clear that there are five clear favorites for Best Picture nominations, why shouldn’t Pixar go for one? I can see why you’d want to preserve a slot for There Will Be Blood/Before the Devil…/I’m Not There/whatever, but I can’t see why that’s Pixar’s concern. Let Ratatouille compete for Best Picture and let Persepolis win the animation award. That sounds more interesting than almost any other possible outcome, anyway.

  15. This all sounds vaguely familiar…

    13 years ago, HOOP DREAMS received so many accolades and raves from critics, the studio (Fine Line) started talking it up as a Best Picture nominee? The result? HOOP DREAMS wasn’t even nominated for Best Documentary. Now, one doesn’t necessarily follow the other, but I wonder how many Academy members feel like Jeff when it comes to animated films in general and RATATOUILLE in particular. I also think RATATOUILLE, while very good, wasn’t one of the best films of the year, but just because it’s animated doesn’t mean it shouldn’t try.

    Oh, and PAPRIKA isn’t one of the finalists for Best Animation Feature? That sucks. No offense to the others besides RATATOUILLE, since I haven’t seen them, but PAPRIKA shows more imagination than most movies in general these days, let alone animated films.

  16. I was none too sold on the Paprika guy, whatever his name is, thinking Perfect Blue was just okay and failing twice to stay interested in Tokyo Godfathers on cable, but Paprika is stunning. Maybe they need a Best Foreign-Language Anime category….

  17. This is a tough one. Although, for the record, any film that wins in the Animated Feature category is eligible for consideration in the Best Picture category. Although if anyone thinks a film could possibly win in both, I have some tasty swamp land I need to unload.

    I don’t know what the answer is. Rat is a great film and certainly deserves to be nominated in the Animated category, but I don’t believe it would stand a chance in the Best Picture crowd. And could easily lose both if they push it. At least Animated films are getting recognized now, so that is something at least.

    Better with an Animated category than without one I suppose.

  18. I think they should push Ratatouille for Best Picture only so I can hopefully see Paprika and Tekkonkinkreet duke it out for best animated.

  19. Sadly Zat, if Ratatouille isn’t in competition, Alvin and the Chipmunks is still more likely to be nominated for Best Animated than Paprika or Tekkonkinkreet.

  20. Ratatouillie is the first Pixar movie that didn’t do it for me. I blind bought the dvd because their rep is pretty golden, but now I regret it.

    In all the previous Pixar films there was a clear distinction between the animal world and the human world, or the fantasy world (Monsters, Toy Story) and the human world. Or there was a wholly contained world where humans don’t exist (Cars, Incredibles). The seperate, secret-ness of those worlds, and the imagining that went into dreaming them up is what makes these films special.

    In Ratatouillie there was only one world, where humans and rats collaborate on dinner, and frankly, I wasn’t buying into it. In the Pixar catalog, it is the odd man out.

  21. Ratatouille is now officially the most overrated film of the decade. It’s a pretty stupid idea in the first place – you just can’t pull off rats in a kitchen and not avoid that icky feeling, especially if your movie universe still treats those rats like vermin at the start – made even worse by the arrogant worldview it tries to sell: geniuses are geniuses, and all you lesser plebs should just marchstep to my tune or else get out of the way. Remy doesn’t allow any collaboration at all, doesn’t teach anyone anything, but merely looks for everyone to cowtow to a “genius” he is merely lucky enough to be born with.

    It really is a stupid film.

    Looks good though.

  22. Guys — PAPRIKA isn’t eligible this year, as it did a one-week Oscar-qualifying run in 2006 for last year. It was at the Laemmle Grande and they didn’t advertise it; Scott Foundas even told me I couldn’t put it on my LA Weekly ten best list for last year because the release practically didn’t count and no-one else had seen it.

    I saw it at a screening for Oscar voters that no-one else showed up to — just me alone in the Sunset screening room.

    One theory is that Sony Classics wanted it to run last year so they wouldn’t have to split their Oscar push with PERSEPOLIS this year.

    Now then — how is ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS eligible for Best Animated Feature and TRANSFORMERS isn’t? A painstaking calculation based on specific screen time of the animated characters? Seems silly.

  23. Paprika also was on the festival circuit late last year, so that would make it ineligible.

    Personally, it looks like Ratatouille is going to have some tough competition in the Best Animated category, with Persepolis getting strong buzz and Beowulf qualifying. Best film of the year? It might have a tough time winning its own category.

  24. Well, Paprika’s eligibility is irrelevant to me, it’s one of the best movies I saw in 2007.

    As for Transmogrifier’s comment, I don’t entirely agree but I agree enough to be glad someone finally said it. Gorgeous to look at, but why the hell is Pixar, who’ve had the most golden kid glove treatment from critics of any filmmakers in the last half century, making a movie whose climax is putting the critics in their place? M. Night Shmalayan got roasted for doing that in his last movie…

  25. “Paprika also was on the festival circuit late last year, so that would make it ineligible.”

    Actually not true. Both CRASH and MEMENTO (just the two that immediately come to mind) played festivals the year prior to their release and still were eligible. Have they since changed this rule?

  26. “why the hell is Pixar, who’ve had the most golden kid glove treatment from critics of any filmmakers in the last half century, making a movie whose climax is putting the critics in their place?”

    I don’t think RATATOUILLE puts critics in their place. I think it reminds critics and regular folks alike that critics do have their purpose, and that there are (or should be) standards for everything.

  27. “Now then — how is ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS eligible for Best Animated Feature and TRANSFORMERS isn’t? A painstaking calculation based on specific screen time of the animated characters? Seems silly.”

    TRANSFORMERS could be if it wanted to. The Academy doesn’t judge the merits of eligibility until the studio fowards a film for consideration. If Bay wanted to push for his film to be included, he could.

  28. Mgmax: first of all, because Pixar are collectively better filmmakers by far than Shyamalan; second, because Shyamalan’s dig at critics was obvious, petty, and small-minded while Ratatouille’s was warm, relatively complicated, and inclusive.

  29. Mgmax, Ratatouille is almost the definitive cinematic statement on the relationship between the artist and the critic, their responsibilities, and their relative worth in the grand scheme of things. The film is near perfect prior to the infamous flashback scene, but that puts everything over the top. It’s a necessary and hugely beneficial addition to the story of Remy and his journey from a rat with dreams to a fearless rat.

    The scene isn’t tacked on superfluously, as if Brad Bird and Pixar decided to use their soapbox to get back at those that have criticized them. It’s all about the story. It’s not a meta statement about critics and what they’ve had to say about Pixar films. If anything, the film should make critics feel like they have an important role in pop culture and art in general.

    M. Night Shymalan was pissed and insecure when critics ripped apart The Village, when they should have, and decided to kill one off in his film. I don’t understand how you can find a connection between the two things besides on a really broad level.

    If M. Night Shymalan wrote Ratatouille the following scene would have occurred at the end. Remy serves the critic eight sandwiches and the critic responds, “I liked all of them except the one that was shaped like a bug, it was decent, and the one shaped like a car was mediocre.” Then Remy would rip off the critics ear and yell, “You know nothing of sandwiches!” Then you’d find out Remy was a robot created by a think tank at the French version of the Food Network. But that’s just a guess.

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