We have lost one of the greatest and wiliest actors of the 20th century in Peter O’Toole, who passed away yesterday at age 81. He had announced his retirement from acting in the summer of 2012, but of course, he can’t really ever fully leave us. We will never see a new performance from this titan, but those he delivered over a 50-plus-year career are among the most memorable in all of cinema. Of course, any fan of Pixar Animation Studios knows O’Toole best as the voice of Anton Ego, the feared critic with whom Remy the rat clashes in the second half of Ratatouille. But well before he entered the recording booth for one of only a few voiceover performances, Peter O’Toole entered the pantheon of cinematic perfection with a string of roles most actors would kill for.
2007 was an excellent year for cinema, one of the best in decades. This was the year of No Country for Old Men, Once, and There Will Be Blood, all films that deserve to be called works of art, ones we’ll pore over and analyze for years to come. And 2007 was also the year of Pixar Animation Studios’ best film yet, Ratatouille. Ratatouille, in many ways, is the culmination of all the blood, sweat, and tears put into the hopes that Pixar would ever be successful. They proved in various ways that they could do more than the average family film, but Ratatouille was a purer triumph. Though no full-length feature can be perfect, Ratatouille comes close and, in its climax, stands as the poster child for the (patent pending) “Pixar moment.”