The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today unveiled its nominees for the best films of 2007, naming among them the three releases up for Best Animated Feature. Will the state-of-the-art CG wizardry of Disney/Pixar’s Ratatouille or Sony Pictures Animation’s Surf’s Up wow Academy voters this year, or will they instead go for the stripped down, traditional 2D appeal of Sony Pictures Classic’s Persepolis? We’ll know when envelope opens on Sunday, Feb. 24 as the 80th Annual Academy Awards take place at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, granted there is a ceremony this year.
Persepolis is the independent production going up against two major studio films, but Surf’s Up is proving to be this year’s little engine that could this year. Even with an impressive 10 Annie nominations to its credit, few expected it to get the thumbs up from the Academy, not even the folks at Sony Pictures Animation.
‘We really didn’t run any campaign here whatsoever,’ says Yair Landau, president of Sony Pictures Digital. ‘It’s our second movie. We took a lot of risks and broke a lot of new ground in terms of the documentary-style narrative, recording all the actors together, the cinematic techniques and our visual effects work in creating waves as characters, and that people recognize that is wonderful.’
Ratatouille Writer director Brad Bird shares a Best Orignial Screenplay nod with story guys Jan Pinkava and Jim Capobianco. The pic is also nominated for Best Music Score (Michael Giacchino), Best Sound Editing (Randy Thom, Michael Silvers) and Best Sound Mixing (Randy Thom, Michael Semanick, Doc Kane). Bird told Variety today, “What I’m happiest about is that animation is seen and enjoyed as much as other films. No matter what the medium is, you’re telling stories. The fact that the Academy sees animation as storytelling is wonderful. With Ratatouille, my involvement came late and there was pressure to get difficult challenges solved. There were still questions, storywise, to be answered. It was kind of like the train was going to leave the station and I had to figure out where it was going to end up.’
The always quotable Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis) was also up early for the news and stood behind her medium of choice. She told the trade paper, ‘I woke up this morning and had time to eat all my nails. I always wanted to make this for everyone. You have to make it personal. I didn’t want it to become an ethnic story. I wanted to show the humanity. No matter where you come from, it has to be an individual story. Making it in live action would be a big mistake. It would lose something.’
In the Best Animated Short category, the nominees are Josh Raskin’s I met the Walrus, Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski’s Madam Tutli-Putli, Samuel Tourneux and Simon Vanesse’s Meme Les Pigeons Vont Au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven), Alexander Petrov’s Moya Lyubov (My Love) and Suzie Templeton’s Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. Industry observers were surprised to find that festival favorites Luis Cook’s The Pearce Sisters and Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers’ Goofy short, How to Hook Up Your Home Theater didn’t make the nomination list.
The three films that made the cut in the visual effects race are New Line’s The Golden Compass (Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris, Trevor Wood) Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson, John Frazier) and DreamWorks/Paramount’s Transformers (Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl, John Frazier).
To see to full list of nominees, go to www.oscar.com/nominees.