Monday, October 27, 2008

Wall-E for Best Picture?

The New York Times is reporting that the Hollywood studios have decided to push box offices success for the Academy Awards this year. With the viewership of the awards telecast falling every year for the past several years, the thinking is that the TV audience has no rooting interest in the independent, small films that the Academy usually honors. The way to higher TV ratings is to nominate films that the audience has actually seen.

Disney will be campaigning for Wall-E in the best picture category.

As early as midsummer Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal’s film critic, was arguing that “Wall-E” should be considered for best picture. “The time to start the drumbeat is now,” he wrote in a July 12 essay, noting the extreme difficulty animated films, while hugely popular, have faced in vying for the most prestigious Oscar. Only one, Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” released in 1991, has ever been nominated for best picture.

“If we didn’t do it, I don’t think we’d be giving the movie its due,” Richard Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, said of the decision to promote “Wall-E” for the top prize, even if that complicates the movie’s simultaneous bid for the more easily won award as best animated feature. One problem is a presumed tendency to split votes. Academy members can vote for a film in both the best picture and best animated feature categories. But they may not be inclined to do that or even know that the rules permit it.
The awards are often a rebuke to mainstream Hollywood, where the creative community gets to place art over business. The big question is whether the Academy membership, whose votes determine the nominees and the winners, will go along with this approach.

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