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Coco’s Big Oscar Wins

Academy Awards, Adrian Molina, Coco, Darla K. Anderson, Lee Unkrich, Oscars

Posted by Simoa • March 5, 2018

 

Though it might have been expected, Coco‘s victory at last night’s Academy Awards wasn’t any less sweet! And the film scored not one, not two, but three wins!

Remember Me

First there was the sensational performance of “Remember Me,” beginning with Gael Garcia Bernal accompanied by a guitarist as he sang the gentle lullaby version of the song. It was impossible not to be moved, especially with Bernal’s spotlight on the darkened stage while thinking of that pivotal moment in the film when the lullaby is first heard. But a show stopping spectacle was waiting in the wings! Miguel and Natalia Lafourcade sized the stage with their rendition, complete with Ernesto de la Cruz’s legendary stage. It was reanimated just for Oscar night and mirrored the film closely!

photo via Ava Duvernay

Best Animated Feature

“Viva Latin America!” Oscar Isaac, one of the award presenters, cried out before announcing Coco the winner. It highlighted just how important this film is to so many and was the first indicator of Mexican filmmakers winning during the broadcast. Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina were joined onstage by Darla K. Anderson and three in the film’s cast: Anthony Gonzalez (Miguel); Gael Garcia Bernal (Hector); and Benjamin Bratt (Ernesto de la Cruz). It was a first for Pixar filmmakers to be flanked by their cast at an awards show, and it’s particularly noteworthy since they’re of Mexican and Latino descent.

Once more, it was impossible not to be moved as Lee, Adrian, and Darla gave their acceptance speeches. This was truly a momentous win for Coco. If you missed it last night or if you want to watch it again (and really, who wouldn’t?), the segment appears below.

“Coco is proof that art can change and connect the world, and this can only be done when we have a place where everyone and anyone who feels like an other to be heard.” -Darla K. Anderson

“Love and thanks to my family, my Latino community, to my husband Ryan, each for expanding my sense of what it means to be proud of who you are and where you’re from. We hope the same thing for everyone who connected with this film.” –Adrian Molina

“…the biggest thank you of all to the people of Mexico. Coco would not exist without your endlessly beautiful culture and traditions. With Coco, we tried to take a step forward toward a world where all children can grow up seeing characters in movies that look and talk and live like they do. Marginalized people deserve to feel like they belong. Representation matters!” –Lee Unkrich

Anthony Gonzalez also got a moment at the microphone, making Lee’s declaration that much more resounding.

Best Original Song

Coco‘s win in this category was unexpected, perhaps because it didn’t take home the Golden Globe back in January. “Remember Me” marks Pixar’s second ever win for Best Song (previously awarded to Randy Newman for Monsters, Inc.’s “If I Didn’t Have You”). Songwriters Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez also secured their second Oscar win. There was no end to the inspiring speeches as Anderson-Lopez acknowledged the diversity of the nominees, while Lopez dedicated the award to his late mother.

“I really want to take a minute to look at this category of incredible nominated songwriters tonight. Not only are we diverse, but we are close to 50/50 for gender representation. When you look at a category like ours, it helps us imagine a world where all the categories look like this one.” -Kristen Anderson-Lopez

Although Dave Mullins’ short film “Lou” walked away empty handed, it was a spectacular night for Pixar and Coco. This film’s message of familial love, as well as its celebration of an underrepresented population, has been embedded into the cultural zeitgeist. It signals even more diverse and inclusive stories at Pixar and beyond.

Representation matters enormously, and so does Coco.

Congratulations to Lee, Adrian, Darla, the Lopezes, and the entire cast and crew for their tremendous movie and wins!

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Pixar and Oscar

Academy Awards, Coco, in depth, Opinion Piece, Oscars

Posted by Simoa • March 3, 2018

With the 90th Academy Awards airing this Sunday, March 4th, your trio of Upcoming Pixar writers are here with some musings on the awards show.

Academy Award for Best Animated Feature

Animated movies have been cemented in our culture for the best part of a century now, so it’s hard to believe that the Academy Awards, founded in 1929, only introduced the Best Animated Feature award in 2002. In the years since, so many beautiful animated features have become nominees in this category, and while it’s great that these movies are gaining recognition, it seems strange that this recognition doesn’t stretch over into other categories as often as it should.

There are only three animated movies that have ever been nominated for Best Picture: Beauty and the Beast, Up, and Toy Story 3. (None have ever won it though). And while I may be a little biased as an avid Pixar and animation fan, I feel like there are plenty of animated movies that easily rival the most critically-famed live-action movies out there. Or at least, more than three. It feels as if the creation of the animated feature category has caused the Academy Awards board to disregard these movies when considering them for any other merits besides being ‘a good animated movie’, or ‘pretty good…for an animated movie.’ Which is weird because, to quote Brad Bird, “animation is not a genre. It is a method of storytelling.”

So right off the bat, it’s like movies that happen to use animation as their art form are already unfairly regarded as ‘beneath’ live-action movies. And then there’s the issue that many animated movies seem to be completely overlooked. Pixar have won 50% of all the Oscars ever awarded for Best Animated Feature. Disney and Pixar combined have won ~70%. This is where I begin to feel conflicted – I love Pixar. I like to see them succeed. I am always happy and proud when a Pixar movie is awarded with an Academy Award. But, especially in more recent years, when a Disney or Pixar movie is nominated for Best Animated Feature, it almost feels like a guaranteed win. And it shouldn’t be! There are so many inspirational animation studios doing amazing work at the moment. Pixar is in good company.

The Academy Award members do a good job at nominating a diverse set of movies for Best Animated Feature (even after the rule change this year where all members, not just a specialist branch, were able to nominate contenders in this category). This year’s nominees include the Mexican-culture-celebrating Coco, the first fully painted animated film Loving Vincent, and the stunningly animated The Breadwinner by the very unique and distinctive studio Cartoon Saloon. It’s when it gets to the voting for which nominee should win where things seem to get a bit problematic. It’s been reported in the past that some members don’t take this category seriously, choosing to not even bother watching all the nominated animated movies. The fact that only Disney and Pixar – huge and very well-known studios – have won Best Animated Feature for the past five years seems like a pretty good indicator that members are just voting for whatever movie they vaguely recognize. Don’t get me wrong, Zootopia, Inside Out, and Big Hero 6 are all brilliant movies that are completely deserving of their awards, but the way the winners are chosen in this category is unfair to all the animation studios involved.

-Joanna

Pixar Always Wins

As we’ve seen on every Oscar night, Pixar does always win. (With a few exceptions where they either lost or didn’t even receive a nomination). Coco will most likely take home the grand prize. However! While Pixar movies are overwhelmingly the favorites, it’s unfair to the studio’s first film with an all Latino cast, one that celebrates a culture and country far too demonized by Hollywood and politicians, to be labeled as undeserving just because of the Pixar name. And if Pixar doesn’t win? The films are stellar whether or not “Academy Award winning” precedes the title.

Oscar voters are a disappointing bunch. Like the general population, they don’t consider animation a serious art form and usually choose Pixar because they don’t bother to watch the other worthy contenders. Whatever reasons they have for dismissing animation is their own business, but it is frustrating to think that Pixar’s wins weren’t always the results of a fair competition.

Coco deserves every honor it receives. I hope that if it’s the winner Sunday night, it was because voters honestly thought it stood up better against the other nominees. If the Academy and Hollywood at large are committed to inclusivity, then the film’s win for Best Animated Feature will not only be a win for positive Mexican representation, but a win for the entire industry.

-Simoa

Academy: What’s the Point?

I used to be a massive Oscar fan when I was younger. Between the star-studded ceremonies, the tear-jerking Oscar acceptance speeches, to the inspiring films that took home the gold, I was in awe and obsessed. I would beg my parents to let me stay up late on Oscar Holy Sunday so I could find out who would win Best Actress or what film would win Best Picture. Later I’d hold Oscar parties and watch everything that was nominated so I could make accurate predictions as to what would win and why.

It wasn’t until I got older and discovered the vast number of films that are released each year and how the Academy doesn’t even recognize most of them that I realized the Oscars themselves are not only a huge popularity contest, but also a con.

Behind all the glitz and the glamour, what do the Oscars actually represent within our culture? When one of the nine films nominated for Best Picture wins the prestigious award, does it make that film any better or any more worthy than the other ones that were nominated? Do you even remember what won Best Picture last year? Or five years ago? What about the other films that were released during the year and were snubbed when the nominations came out? Are those considered bad films because they weren’t nominated? I’d like to think of the Oscars as a celebration of all the hard work that thousands of talented individuals poured into each film released, whether or not they made the Academy’s cut.

One of my favorite categories at the Oscars is Best Animated Feature and each year I constantly find myself disappointed at the Academy’s lack of knowledge of the animation industry.

I’ve been a massive Pixar fan since I first remember going to the cinemas when I was a wee lass, but the animation world goes far beyond Pixar’s pearly gates in Emeryville. Pixar definitely raises the bar when it comes to animation and sets a high standard for storytelling, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only studio making good films, or Oscar worthy films. There are so many other studios around the world making equally compelling and engaging content that often go unnoticed. Whereas the Best Picture category is often compelling as the winner can sometimes be a film completely unexpected, there is really no suspense in the Best Animated Feature category because if a Pixar film is nominated then 9 times out of 10 they’re going to win the Oscar; unless a Disney film is nominated, like Zootopia or Big Hero 6. I’m not saying those films didn’t deserve to win but it would have been more entertaining had there been a little more competition among the other animated films nominated.

It’s nice that the Academy honors animated films that were made outside of Pixar or Disney or even DreamWorks, such as The Breadwinner or Loving Vincent, but that still doesn’t make up for the other films they left out this year and in the past. If the Best Picture category can have up to 10 films nominated, then the Best Animated Feature could have the same, of course depending on what animated films are released throughout the year.

The Academy does have a high regard for Animation – they added the category to the program in 2002 and even nominated Up, Beauty and the Best, and Toy Story 3 for Best Picture, so they obviously take animation seriously and know that it’s worthy of everyone’s praise and attention… but there’s still a long way to go before animation is anywhere equal to live action.

-Nia

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1/23/18: Pixar’s Oscar Nominations

Academy Awards, Coco, Lou, Oscars

Posted by Simoa • January 23, 2018

Oscar nominations were broadcast today, and Pixar secured three nominations in total.

“Lou,” the Dave Mullins directed short that played before Cars 3 (mysteriously overlooked) this summer, was nominated for best animated short film. The full list of nominees is below.

Once again, Coco has been nominated for both Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song, “Remember Me,” written by Disney’s latest and greatest songwriting duo, Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez! For some reason, Adrian Molina was not listed as a nominee.

[Update]: This Remezcla article explains why Adrian Molina was excluded as a nominee. The Oscar rules for who receives a nomination are below:

“The designated recipient(s) must be the key creative individual(s) most clearly responsible for the overall achievement. A maximum of two persons may be designated as nominees, one of whom must be the credited director and the other of whom must have a producer credit.”

It’s really unfortunate that Adrian Molina is not being acknowledged as a key creative individual for the film. Nevertheless, his contributions to the film simply can’t be overstated, and he deserves just as much recognition and praise as Lee Unkrich.

Congratulations to Dave Mullins, Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina, Darla K. Anderson, Bobby Lopez, and Kristen Anderson-Lopez!

See you on Oscar night! The 90th awards will be presented on March 4th, 2018.

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Piper Wins Best Animated Short Film at the Oscars

Academy Awards, Alan Barillaro, Marc Sondheimer, Piper

Posted by Nia • February 27, 2017

la-et-ms-animated-short-film-oscar-20170226

piper disney pixar

Many congratulations to the crew behind Pixar’s Piper, for taking home the award for Best Animated Short Film at last night’s Academy Awards ceremony. Piper is certainly an achievement in merging animation and technology with its minimalist approach to telling the story of a sandpiper hatchling trying to catch food on its own. Director Alan Barillaro and producer Marc Sondheimer were all smiles in the press room after humbly accepting the Oscar on stage. Backstage Barillaro mentioned, “When you talk technology, the art form is the pencil … we ignored the world of realism and went for the artistic choices. A lot of the work was looking at classical paintings… The challenge as an animator is you need to understand something before you can animate it.” Sondheimer then added, “We studied those birds and that really helped… For three long years!”

It’s safe to say that doing copious amounts of research certainly made a difference in the long-run.

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“Piper” Facebook Q&A

Academy Awards, Alan Barillaro, Marc Sondheimer, Piper

Posted by Simoa • February 22, 2017

The 89th Annual Academy Awards will air this upcoming Sunday, February 26th. Alan Barillaro, director of the Oscar nominated short “Piper” which captivated audiences last summer, was joined by producer Marc Sondheimer for a Q&A session at the Facebook Oscar Lounge. Fans submitted some interesting and thought provoking questions.

Do you create the story around a message you want to tell or is it the opposite?

Barillaro answered that character always comes first, and for “Piper,” his first feature as a director, he built the world around the character. He mentioned that animators are just like actors and their primary concern is to get into the character. This echoes the same belief of industry veteran Glen Keane, who also refers to himself as an actor with a pencil in his hand.

If you could make Piper again, what would you do differently?

Barillaro wouldn’t change anything because making mistakes is how you learn and you’re just stumbling through the process of filmmaking.

How long did you study sandpipers?

The research is always constant at Pixar. What’s most important is creating a language. For example, Barillaro observed that the way sandpipers ruffle their feathers to get warm could be used to express happiness in the film.

When asked about the announcement of the Oscar nominations, both Barillaro and Sondheimer mentioned how thrilled they were for the entire crew to be recognized. Something I’ve come to expect when watching videos like this one is the way Pixarians emphasize the collaborative  effort in every Pixar film. No one person receives all the credit. Barillaro was actually candid in admitting that as the director he didn’t have all the answers but had to rely on his enormously talented crew.

The video of the Q&A is available to watch on Disney-Pixar’s Facebook page. I encourage everyone to watch it, because Pixarians always convey so much enthusiasm when discussing their projects. Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer project the same kind of warmth and camaraderie of another director/producer duo, Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera!

Be sure to watch the Oscars this Sunday!

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‘Sea’ new Finding Dory characters!

Academy Awards, Finding Dory

Posted by Simoa • March 29, 2016

Finding Dory is now little more than three months away. We’ve gotten some intriguing teasers and character biographies, and now we’re excited to share some new images from the film. These images are courtesy of USA Today.

Dory’s parents we’ve already known (voiced by Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy), along with whale shark Destiny (Kaitlin Olsen), beluga whale Bailey (Ty Burrell), and the octopus Hank (Ed O’Neill).

There are some other unique characters as well, including loons and sea otters. The loons will apparently be stands in for the memorable sea gulls from Finding Nemo.

Quite the distinct character design! Looks a little shifty as well…

These baby sea otters are so adorable! According to Stanton, they kept the otters cute rather than dangerous. 

“The truth is, otters are quite vicious. But no one wants that to be true. So we didn’t follow that. The otters ended up being more successful as cute creatures that just stare at you. We knew the effect they have on people.”

Possibly the most interesting additions, Rudder (left, voiced by Dominic West) and Fluke (Idris Elba).

Rudder and Fluke’s voice actors appeared in the wildly successful television drama The Wire, of which Stanton is a huge fan. “I really wanted to witness a Wire reunion.” We can bet that there will be plenty for devoted fans to laugh over once these two sea lions take center swim.

Tell us what you think of these new characters and images! Finding Dory splashes into theaters on June 17 of this year.

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Jonas Rivera Wins PGA Award

Academy Awards, Inside Out, Jonas Rivera, Pete Docter, PGA Awards, Pixar

Posted by Nia • January 27, 2016

Congratulations to Inside Out producer Jonas Rivera who took home a Producers Guild Award for Best Animated Feature on Saturday’s ceremony.

Disney/Pixar

Disney/Pixar

The Good Dinosaur was also nominated along with Anomalisa, Minions, and The Peanuts Movie. The PGA Awards honor the best producing work in film and television and are usually a precursor to what takes home the gold during the Academy Awards. Next to the Oscars, it’s one of the most anticipated events in the industry. Here’s hoping that Inside Out also wins the Oscar for Best Animated Film next month! Best of luck to Jonas Rivera, Pete Docter, and the team at Pixar!

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Pixar at the Oscars

Academy Awards, Animation, Inside Out, Interview, John Lasseter, Jonas Rivera, Lava, Michael Giacchino, Pete Docter, Pixar, Sanjay's Super Team, Short Film, The Good Dinosaur, UP

Posted by Nia • January 16, 2016

Congratulations to the talented folks at Pixar for receiving not one but THREE Oscar nominations during Thursday’s announcement. Inside Out was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film and also scored a nomination for Best Original Screenplay; it will be the only animated film competing in that category. Sanjay’s Super Team took home a nod for Best Animated Short Film.

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"Sanjay's Super Team" Comes to the Con ? Director Sanjay Patel and producer Nicole Grindle are taking Pixar Animation Studios' new short to San Diego's Comic-Con International next month for its North American premiere and a peek behind the scenes of the production process. The Super Story Behind the Pixar Short "Sanjay's Super Team," slated for Thurs., July 9 at 11 a.m. in the Indigo Ballroom, Hilton Bayfront, reveals the unique inspiration for this incredibly personal film that features superheroes like never before. The short debuts in U.S. theaters in front of Disney-Pixar's "The Good Dinosaur" on Nov. 25, 2015.

Via Disney/Pixar

It was indeed great news hearing that Pixar was nominated for several awards, but it’s also hard not to acknowledge the slight disappointments regarding snubs to both The Good Dinosaur and Lava. In an ideal world, all four films released from the studio would have been nominated for Oscars. They all followed the Pixar standard of challenging both art and technology, paving the way for future animated films. The Good Dinosaur alone was revolutionary in it’s technical aspects and successful blend of animation against hyperrealistic backgrounds. Lava also showcased stunning backgrounds that were brought to life through the use of song; depicting the romance between two volcanoes without dialogue but only through a love ballad. Lava‘s catchy song was clearly absent from the Best Original Song nominees. Also missing from the Best Original Score category was Michael Giacchino’s beautiful work on Inside Out.

In the past, an animated film has even been nominated for Best Picture, such as Pete Docter’s last film Up. If an animated film can be nominated for Best Picture, then it’s director should also be recognized in the Best Director category. Inside Out was incredibly inventive and something we haven’t seen before. It cleverly took us inside the mind of a young girl and created relatable characters out of her emotions… not to mention simultaneously hitting us all with a wave of childhood nostalgia. Docter spent 4+ years working on the film; from writing the screenplay, approving every minute detail most audience members might miss, to even guiding a brilliant team of artists into crafting his vision. That time frame is longer than most live action directors work on a film.

In an interview with Screencrush, Pixarian Kelsey Mann explains why animation directors are just as worthy as notable live action directors in receiving acknowledgement from The Academy:

“From the ground up, directors at Pixar are in charge of everything from the story to the individual blades of grass. We start from nothing. Literally nothing. And it all has to be built from the ground up. And Pete is involved in every decision.”

Slowly audiences (and even The Academy) are beginning to realize that animation isn’t only for children, but it’s an art form entirely of it’s own; crafting stories a thousand times better and more original than most of the live action films released in Hollywood. Here’s hoping that one day an animated film will not only be nominated for Best Picture again, but will win it too.

We will definitely be keeping our fingers crossed for Pixar to take home all of the awards on the February 28th Oscar ceremony.

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Pixar Snubbed at the 86th Academy Awards

Academy Awards, Monsters University, The Blue Umbrella

Posted by Brkyo614 • January 16, 2014

The Oscars have been kind to Pixar over the years – with the exception of Cars 2, all of the studio’s features have been nominated for Best Animated Feature Film since the creation of the category in 2001. As a result, it came as a huge shock when Monsters University went unmentioned during this morning’s 2014 nomination announcements. Instead, these five films were chosen for the Best Animated category:

  • The Croods
  • Despicable Me 2
  • Ernest & Celestine
  • Frozen
  • The Wind Rises

The Blue Umbrella wasn’t nominated, either; in fact, it didn’t even make the shortlist for Best Animated Short Film. The five in that category were:

  • Feral
  • Get a Horse!
  • Mr. Hublot
  • Possessions
  • Room on the Broom

Monsters U was also absent at the Golden Globes, but the Oscars’ five animated film slots made a nomination seem like a safe bet. The film was mostly well-received by critics, so the omission seems to partially be a response to the backlash when Brave took home last year’s award above strong competition. Although Frozen and The Wind Rises are clear contenders to win this time around, the lack of even a nomination for MU is puzzling.

Still, the film has earned some love elsewhere, most notably from the Annies, BAFTAs, and VES Awards. Pixarians took the miss well; director Dan Scanlon tweeted a particularly eloquent response. Ultimately, it’s oddly appropriate that Monsters University, with its messages of moving on from failure and finding new opportunities, didn’t make the cut.

For the full list of nominees, head over to the official Oscars website.

What do you think? Was Monsters University worthy of a nomination?

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Woody’s News Round-Up! (3/1/13)

Academy Awards, Brave, Disney Parks, Monsters University, Ratatouille, Round-Ups

Posted by Brkyo614 • March 1, 2013

Monsters University is just under 4 months away! Get excited with a few new stories below:

Ratatouille
Coming to Disneyland Paris + MU at Epcot: Pixar characters’ presence in Disney Parks received a boost this week after Euro Disney’s Phillippe Gas announced a Ratatouille-themed ride making its way to Disneyland Paris in 2014. Further details remain undisclosed, but the attraction sounds like a smart (and obvious) choice for the park. (via Inside the Magic)

Additionally, a gorgeous Monsters University topiary recently debuted at Walt Disney World in preparation for the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival on March 6. Head over to MouseSteps (via Pixar Post) to see the astounding attention to detail.

Final Cover Art for The Art of Monsters University; Coming June 11:  Chronicle Books updated the Amazon listing for The Art of Monsters University, replacing the tentative cover art with a final, bolder design. Preorder now at Amazon or Chronicle Books, the latter of which currently lists a June 11, 2013 release date.

Monsters University Theater Standee: Another inventive step in the ad campaign for Monsters University, a Pixar Times reader recently spotted this standee for Pixar’s next film at the cinema. Step behind the blank ID and say ‘cheese’ for your student photo!

Pixar’s Oscar Toast for Brave: Spirits were high at Pixar Animation Studios this week following Brave‘s Oscar win. The official Brave Facebook page posted a few photos of the festivities that ensued; check out the gallery here.

Your thoughts?

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