Waltzing to the top

Israel’s “Waltz with Bashir” received another major boost when the cream of American movie critics picked the path-breaking animated film for top honors.

The National Society of Film Critics named “Waltz” as the best picture of 2008 at its annual meeting on Saturday (1/3) in New York.

In its review of the film last October, The Journal reported that the film “combines state-of-the-art animation, an anti-war documentary theme, and a psychoanalytical approach to recover the memory of a traumatized Israeli soldier.

“The mixture may sound odd, but it all comes together as an integrated and haunting biographical movie. Director Ari Folman is also its central character as a 20-year old infantryman, whose unit spearheaded the Israeli advance into Lebanon in June 1982, with the announced goal of stopping incursions and rocket attacks on northern Galilee towns by the Palestine Liberation Organization.”

Israel’s current incursion into the Gaza Strip to eliminate Hamas rocket attacks gives “Waltz” an added relevance.

The top pick by the national critics, although rarely emulated by the Academy’s Oscar voters, does add further laurels to “Waltz,” earned at international film festivals, by the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn., and the Golden Globes nominating committee.

As The Journal predicted three months ago, the picture may well become the very first Israeli film to waltz off with an Oscar.