Oscar Loves WALL’E, Maison and Button

Nine months after its intial release in U.S theaters, Andrew Stanton’s critically acclaimed feature WALL’E took home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature at the 81st edition of the Academy Awards. Although Pixar’s ninth movie was also nominated for Original Screenplay, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and Song Oscars, it lost to Milk, Slumdog Millionaire and The Dark Knight in those other categories.

Stanton thanked John Lasseter and the team at Pixar for creating a cinematic safe haven where only a film like WALL’E could be made. He also thanked his high school drama teacher for casting him as Barnaby in Hello Dolly. “Creative seeds are sewn in the oddest of places,” he noted.

Kunio Kato’s poetic La Maison en Petits Cubes was the recipient of the Oscar for Best Animated Short, beating out the other four contenders Doug Sweetland’s Presto; Julien Bocabeille, Fran’ois-Xavier Chanioux, Olivier Delabarre, Thierry Marchand, Quentin Marmier and Emud Mokhberi’s SIGGRAPH winner Oktapodi; Alan Foulkes and Adam Smith’s This Way Up and Konstantin Bronzit’s Lavatory Lovestory. Japanese animator Kato, who speaks very little English, brought the house down with his brief acceptance speech ending with four classic words from the Styx songbook”Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto!’

Although many awards season watchers were expecting Ari Folman’s acclaimed animated feature Waltz with Bashir to nab the Best Foreign Language Feature trophy, the Israeli feature didn’t repeat its Golden Globe win, and the Japanese costume drama Departures won in the category. However, David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button continued its winning streak in the Visual Effects and Make-Up categories.

Hosted by the multi-talented Hugh Jackman, the awards show moved at a brisk pace. The producers offered a montage sequence dedicated to the animated features of the year, offering clips from some of the toons that weren’t even nominated for Oscars, including Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears A Who!, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and Space Chimps. Presenter Jack Black (the voice of Po in Kung Fu Panda) offered a great DreamWorks zinger. ‘I do one DreamWorks movie, and then take all the money from the movie, and bring it to the Oscars, and bet it on Pixar.”

Danny Boyle’s Indian rags-to-riches movie Slumdog Millionaire emerged as the evening’s top winner with eight Oscars’including Best Picture and Director. Kate Winslet, Sean Penn, Penelope Cruz and the late Heath Ledger were the winners in the acting categories. To see the complete list of winners, visit www.oscars.com.