Wallace, Canemaker Win Oscars

Despite tough competition from award-winning filmmakers Hayao Miyazaki and Tim Burton, Nick Park is adding a fourth gold statuette to his collection. Co-directed by Steve Box, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit hopped off with the coveted Oscar for Best Animated Feature Sunday night at the 78th Annual Academy Awards. The win caps off a phenomenal award-season run for the DreamWorks Animation and Aardman Animations collaboration, which recently swept the Annie Awards and trumped live-action competitors for the BAFTA for Best British Film.

Accepting the award for Wallace & Gromit, Park and Box sported big, striped bow ties and slipped miniature versions onto their Oscars. Park thanked the Aardman crew back at home in Bristol, U.K., prompting Box to add, ‘There’s an old saying that goes, if you make a bad film, you made it alone. When you make a good film, you made it together, and we all made this together.’ The directing duo then spread on some cheese by doing their best Wallace impressions, enthusing, ‘Cracking genius, Gromit!’

Park previously garnered Acaedmy Awards for his early short, Creature Comforts, and the half-hour Wallace & Gromit advenutres A Close Shave and The Wrong Trousers. The director earned his first feature win over Tim Burton and Mike Johnson’s Corpse Bride from Warner Bros. and Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle from Studio Ghibli and Disney.

Best Animated Short went to The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation from acclaimed filmmaker John Canemaker. John Turturro voices the role of a son struggling to iron out his turbulent relationship with his Italian immigrant Father (Eli Wallach) in this 30-minute autobiographical piece which was nominated for an Annie Award but ended up losing to Bill Plympton’s The Fan and The Flower.

This is the first Oscar nomination and win for Canemaker, whose film beat out Sharon Coleman’s Badgered, Shane Acker’s 9, Anthony Lucas’ The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello and Andrew Jimenez and Mark Andrews’ One Man Band, a Pixar short which won the Animation Magazine Oscar Poll. Canemaker thanked the Academy for its ‘faith in hand-drawn animation, which can still pack an emotional wallop.’

Snatching the statuette for Best Visual Effects was the King Kong team of Joe Letteri, Brian Van’t Hul, Christian Rivers and Richard Taylor. The crew beat out the wizards behind Disney/Walden Media’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Paramount/DreamWorks’ War of the Worlds. Among others, Letteri recognized the actor behind the Kong performance, remarking, ‘I’d like to thank Andy Serkis for giving us the heart of Kong.’

Other noteworthy wins include Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing for Universal’s King Kong, and Best Makeup for Disney/Walden Media’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The top acting kudos went to Philip Seymore Hoffman for Sony Pictures Classics’ Capote and Reese Witherspoon for 20th Century Fox’s Walk the Line, while Lions Gate Films’ Crash pulled off a surprise Best Picture win over the favored Brokeback Mountain from Focus Features.

For a complete list of this year’s Academy Award winners, visit www.oscars.org.