(1995)5Lucia BozzolaThe biggest surprise about Chris Noonan's 1995 family classic wasn't that Mad Max auteur George Miller co-wrote and co-produced it, but that this exquisitely crafted work was the rare children's story as appealing to grown-ups as to children. Seamlessly combining live animals, animatronic beasts, and computer effects, Babe's fable about a pig's aspiring to prove his worth to his eccentric master and the rest of the barnyard animals was rendered intelligently and poignantly through the eyes and talking mouths of that menagerie. Amid the metaphorical caste system of supreme humans, ruling dogs, pliant sheep, a devious cat, and a Greek chorus of mice, Babe the piglet reveals the ageless need for an "unprejudiced heart," aided by an anorexic duck and the singularly open-minded Farmer Hoggett. Opening in the depths of summer, Babe impressed critics and audiences with its masterful effects, sly wit, and treacle-free emotion; the National Society of Film Critics voted it the year's best film. Babe went on to earn seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Director, and Supporting Actor for James Cromwell's low-key performance as Hoggett; it won Best Visual Effects. Its darker sequel Babe: Pig in the City, however, was lost in the 1998 holiday movie shuffle.