In 1939, Walt Disney received an honorary Oscar for the pioneering achievement of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs — actually a custom set presented by Shirley Temple: a standard size statuette, surrounded by seven miniatures. It would be over half a century before another animated feature film, 1991 The beauty and the Beastwas even nominated for Best Picture (it fell to Thesilenceofthelambsand settled for Best Original Song).
But a small monosyllabic robot could have been a contender in 2009, if only they had let him: WALL-E, the moving little trash compactor at the center of Pixar’s tender sci-fi fantasy. Looking back, it’s surprising how prescient the film’s vision of a dark future world was; with a depleted Earth abandoned, humans drift through their days like sleepy calves in a floating sky-mall designed to meet all material needs, dazed by snacks and screen time. Little do they know that WALL-E has found a green pea of hope below, or that he’s fallen in love with EVE, the sleek, egg-shaped AI whose job it is to search for signs of lasting life. .
With those bare bones and almost non-existent dialogue, the animators managed to transform their wide-eyed muse – passionate recycler, hopeless romantic, Hello Dolly! superfan – in a golden age marvel: Buster Keaton with rust spots on his undercarriage. Alas, as Black Knightanother notable snub from Picture that year, he never made the cut; Slum Millionaire (not without reason) won. So we can only dream that 100 years from now, lost Blu-Rays will surface in the ether of space junk (Hello WALL-E!) and be redeemed.