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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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Coco and the Importance of Death

Adrian Molina, Coco, in depth, Lee Unkrich, Opinion Piece

Posted by Nia • January 22, 2018

Pixar isn’t afraid to tackle death and loss in their films; it’s a prevalent theme in almost every story and even an obstacle that so many of their beloved characters need to tackle to move on and grow. Death is featured at the start of Finding Nemo, when Marlin discovers his wife and children have been brutally eaten by a barracuda. And it’s obviously there in Up, as we follow Carl and Ellie through their beautiful relationship when they meet as children, get married, and until the very end with Ellie dying due to old age. There’s even the loss of growing up and leaving your childhood behind in Toy Story 3 when Andy packs up his stuff for college and ends up leaving his beloved toys with Bonnie. Although Finding Nemo and Up have those themes featured at the beginning of the films, the entire story does not spend it’s time focusing on how that loss has affected the characters, what happens when those characters die, or how they’re supposed to deal with that empty gap in their lives. It’s simply a tool to move the characters from one spot to the other to fulfill the other story the studio wanted to tell at that time.

But with Coco, Pixar’s latest film, death takes the helm and leaves room to open up conversation about that often-taboo topic. The film would simply not exist if it weren’t for death and the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead.

Coco is an important film for not only acknowledging the Mexican culture faithfully by embracing their traditions to a tee, but by also being a place where families can come together to discuss something that is a part of everyone’s lives, no matter their age, race, or religion; and most importantly, a place where they can fondly look back and remember all the cherished memories of loved ones no longer with them.

When I was 9-years-old my grandmother passed away from Leukemia – that was the first time I had heard the word death, the first time I had seen the mourning and the blackness. I saw the tears before but I never put two and two together. Now there was a face to death, a person that I once knew who was no longer on this earth.

I understood that my grandmother was gone but not the severity of it all. One day after she passed, I had caught my mother sitting alone, watching old VHS tapes of my grandmother. She was sitting quietly in front of the TV crying. The VHS tapes were showcasing happier times of my grandmother laughing and dancing, full of health and beauty. At that age I thought nothing of it but continued to my room, where I most likely started playing with my toys or finished my homework.

There was never really a time for my parents to talk about death with me because my grandmother’s passing happened so suddenly. I was thrown into the topic and because of that, I feared the death of my friends and my family. I didn’t want anyone to die and I didn’t really understand where they went – even though in church, especially with my Greek Orthodox upbringing, I was told everlasting life existed in places like heaven.

I was lucky to have another set of grandparents who I spent my childhood with. My other grandmother didn’t pass away until 2016, and I’m still left with one surviving grandfather who is in his early nineties. Though because of my initial brush with death at 9, I feared for the day when my other grandparents would pass away. I would leave them silly letters around the house when I visited in the summer telling them that I would never forget them and I would always remember them. I didn’t want them to go anywhere, and I wanted to stay in that moment surrounded by them, forever.

I saw Coco with my family and like so many others, it brought me back to all the wonderful memories I had with all of my grandparents. Just like when Miguel’s family came together in the end to celebrate the life of their ancestors, even the ones they didn’t know in their lifetime, I came together with my own family to discuss friends and family from days gone by. After the film we talked about all the good times we had together and laughed away our tears. We most certainly remembered them and most importantly, we remembered all the great things about their lives and how they helped us become the people we are today.

It’s important for animated films like Coco to feature death so prominently in the story. Animated films are mostly targeted towards younger audiences, which makes it even more special for children to experience themes like death with their families earlier on and to figure out what it means to them in their own time. It opens up opportunities for children to ask questions about what happens when loved ones die and for parents not to shield their children from something that happens to all things in time. It’s also vital to speak to children about death and to embrace all the ugly emotions that come with it. With the fear and sadness comes the happiness and love when one is faced with the warm memories of those who have passed. It’s OK to cry, to get emotional, and to discuss this sensitive topic; luckily we have films like Coco to help open up that opportunity for all.

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Coco came into my life at just the right time

Coco, in depth, Opinion Piece, Pixar

Posted by Joanna • January 17, 2018

(Coco spoilers ahead).

Has a Pixar movie ever been released at just the right time for you?

I finally saw Coco last Saturday – I saw it on my own in a quiet cinema, quiet enough for me to be the last person in the theatre by the time the credits were coming to an end. The final scenes of Coco resonated with me so much that I didn’t stop crying until the Pixar logo appeared again to signal the end of the movie. Usually I wouldn’t class ‘crying alone in public’ as a positive experience, but this was. It was cathartic; I could feel Joy and Sadness holding hands in my head. I think I found Coco so particularly poignant and affecting because I can relate to its themes so strongly – it feels like the movie came out at just the right time for me and has helped me confront my emotions.

This isn’t the first time I’ve felt that a Pixar movie has come into my life at just the right moment. I remember seeing Toy Story 3 with my close group of school friends when we were just entering our final year of school and starting to apply for universities. Monsters University reminded me amidst all my exams and assignments that succeeding academically isn’t all that life is. After graduating, I felt small and scared and powerless, but The Good Dinosaur encouraged me to accept my fears and face them with my head held high. I saw Cars 3 on its release date just a few hours after passing my driving test.

In Coco’s finale, Miguel sang to his great-grandmother Coco and managed to reach her. Fittingly, by hearing ‘Remember Me’, Coco’s memories of her father came flooding back, and her and Miguel were blessed with a moment of real connection and understanding. As someone who is currently losing her own grandmother to Alzheimer’s and dementia, this hit me hard. My granny can be sat in a room overflowing with her family, but look dreadfully alone and unsure. Most conversations with her are her retellings of old family stories which are slowly becoming jumbled and confused. If you ask her how her week was, you can see the frustration on her face as she fails to grasp onto slippery memories that never seem to be in the right place.

Miguel singing Mama Coco ‘Remember Me

But if you give my granny a book of poems, she reads them beautifully – she speaks with the confidence and character that I remember her having when I was younger. She doesn’t stumble over her words; she doesn’t have to struggle to remember anything. She just reads them, because they’re familiar to her. And suddenly I’m reminded of days I spent with her learning how to bake, spending summers, birthdays and Christmases with her, and listening to her (always expertly told) stories about our family going back generations. Miguel singing his great-grandmother Coco ‘Remember Me’ had the same effect as me handing my granny a book of poems. When Miguel succeeded in connecting with Coco, I felt that same wave of joy and relief as if I had just connected with my own grandmother and helped her break free temporarily from the haze and confusion of dementia. Coco came into my life at just the right time because it has encouraged me to try to have more of these meaningful moments with my granny while I still have the chance. And it’s reminded me that while my granny is slowly becoming lost, she’ll live on through our own memories and stories.

Sketch of Miguel and Mama Coco by co-director Adrian Molina

So is it just luck? Was I just lucky to have these movies to encourage me at the times I most needed them? I don’t think so. I think Pixar have a talent for creating movies that are naturally relatable and naturally strike a chord with people from all stages of life. It’s incredible that Pixar movies can feel so personal even though they’re made by thousands of people, for thousands of people. But by keeping the heartfelt messages at the very cores of their movies, they manage it.

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The Matriarchs of Coco and Why They Matter

Coco, in depth, Pixar Heroines

Posted by Simoa • January 16, 2018

There are slight spoilers below.

One of the things I love best about Coco is the strong female presence in the film. Although it’s a buddy movie with two male characters, women are vital in this particular story. They don’t only exist as peripheral characters either. Miguel’s journey to the Land of the Dead, where he learns the truth of his family history, involves three women of his family in very distinct ways.

Mama Imelda 

Mamá Imelda concept art by Daniela Strijleva.

She is the first character we meet, besides Miguel. He narrates the story. Mama Imelda was Miguel’s great-great grandmother. She banned music in the Rivera household, which has been in effect for generations. Miguel is the first in the Rivera line since his great-great grandfather to love and play music (in secret of course). As the young boy explains, his great-great grandfather walked out on his wife and daughter to pursue a music career. Rightfully livid, Mama Imelda banned music forever. Because of her husband’s betrayal, the Rivera descendants believe music is a curse.

We also learn from Miguel that Mama Imelda didn’t feel sorry for herself. She got to work instead. With a young daughter to support on her own, she learned to make shoes. It’s a skill she passed down to her daughter Coco, and when Coco married, her husband joined the family business too. In present day Mexico, the Riveras have continued the shoemaking tradition and operate Mama Imelda’s shop. Miguel is just expected to become a shoemaker, though he harbors musical aspirations.

It’s natural that Miguel doesn’t care about making shoes, but he takes the family business and his great-great grandmother for granted. Note that Imelda didn’t just find work; she actually started her own business. She also never remarried. In just a few minutes, her strength, resiliency, and independence are firmly established. I have to believe the filmmakers were deliberate with these insights into her character.

When Miguel comes face to face with Mama Imelda in the Land of the Dead, she’s severe and not to be trifled with. The audience is aware of this too immediately because she is berating a terrified office worker and wallops the woman’s computer with her shoe. It’s also fitting that Mama Imelda’s alibrije, Pepita, is a ferocious and stunning creature. Pepita is another version of Imelda; grand in size with massive wings and penetrating eyes. But Pepita has a tender and loving side like her human counterpart.

Pepita concept art by Huy Nguyen.

Later on, Miguel learns that Mama Imelda was a great music lover. She reveals a beautiful singing voice. She tells Miguel that she and her husband would sing while he played his guitar, and the memories light up her face with a fond smile. But the smile disappears. She and her husband had different priorities. Everything changed for her when Coco was born. “I wanted to put down roots. He wanted to play for the world.”

The severity of Mama Imelda melts away – all her pain and heartache and vulnerability are laid bare. None of that diminishes her incredible strength however. Something else I find striking about this exchange is that Mama Imelda is telling her story in her own words. Before, we had to rely on Miguel’s voice; now, Mama Imelda speaks with her own.

Mamá Imelda concept art by Daniela Strijleva.

Abuelita 

Now we return to the Land of the Living. Abuelita is Miguel’s grandmother and the head of the Rivera family. Abuelita’s house, Abuelita’s rules. As Alanna Ubach, who gave her voice to Mama Imelda says in this interview, in Latin households, the matriarchs are “the women that really bring the magical fairy dust to the entire family.” The most important rule in Abuelita’s house is absolutely no music ever. She honors Mama Imelda’s ban but takes it to another level. People singing outside the house are chased away. A bottle is snatched out of Miguel’s hands when he creates a simple rhythm by blowing into it. “NO MUSIC!”

Though she’s tough, domineering, and wants to protect her family from the music curse, Abuelita is defined by her great love. You only have to see how gentle she is with Mama Coco and the way she piles food onto Miguel’s plate.

There’s a moment in Coco that I find significant, and that is when Abuelita, frustrated by Miguel’s lack of interest in family traditions, looks to Mama Imelda’s photograph atop the ofrenda and asks, “What are we going to do with that boy?” It’s rhetorical, but she receives a solution anyway. I love this moment because Abuelita turns to the one person in the family tougher than she is, even though she isn’t there physically. But it highlights how important Mama Imelda still is to the family, and how the matriarchs are united in looking out for the Riveras.

Mama Coco

Miguel has a deep love and respect for his great grandmother. He treats her like a friend. Mama Coco has trouble remembering names and will sometimes call Miguel by the wrong one, but he says that it’s good to talk to her anyway. He tells her any and everything. Mama Coco is very old and frail, confined to a wheelchair, but Miguel welcomes her into his world with open arms. The world of a rambunctious 12 year old boy might seem foreign to an old woman, but the two of them just belong together. This shows what a good hearted kid he is, but it also lets the audience know that Mama Coco is still a cherished member of the family. In this film, a lot of reverence is afforded to the elderly. Also, grandmothers just make every story better.

Of course, Miguel’s close relationship with Mama Coco has even greater purpose. The film is named for her. She was the daughter left behind, and she never forgot her father. More importantly, she never stopped loving him. Mama Imelda wanted to forget him, wanted nothing to do with him in life or in death. But she was never the villain in this piece. Imelda and Abuelita after her were doing their best to protect Coco. In this film, it’s the love of women that covers a man’s mistake.

When Miguel sings “Remember Me” to his Mama Coco, her memory is recovered. It’s a tender moment between the two of them while the awestruck family looks on. Coco tells her story just as Mama Imelda did. The Riveras, stunned and joyful, listen in silence. How precious it is to hear family stories from our elders.

Mama Coco reminds me of the grandmother I never knew, who wore her hair in two long braids in the few photographs I’ve seen of her. Miguel is so lucky to have his Abuelita and Mama Coco, and to have met his Mama Imelda and learn her story firsthand. He set off on a quest to pursue a dream and follow in his great-great grandfather’s footsteps. But what he found was much greater. The history of the Rivera family is a song of women – proud, strong, and inspirational.

For a Latina perspective on the women and feminism of Coco, please read this article.

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Coco – digital and Blu-ray release dates revealed

Blu-Ray, Coco, DVD, Pixar

Posted by Joanna • January 12, 2018

Coco has been making its voice known around the world since its initial release last October – it has since earned an impressive number of accolades, from leading the way in the Annie Awards nominations (with 13 in total), to most recently winning the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film and the Critics’ Choice Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (Remember Me).

Soon, we’ll be able to watch this award-winning movie at home. Pixar just revealed the dates for its digital and Blu-ray releases in the US. Coco will be available digitally and on Movies Anywhere on February 13th, two weeks before you can pick up the Blu-ray on February 27th. You can watch the trailer Pixar released alongside this news below:

The Blu-ray and digital releases will include a number of bonus features as usual – we can all look forward  to hearing the filmmaker commentary with directors Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina and producer Darla K. Anderson. We can learn about the background of Coco through multiple featurettes, and gain an even better insight into Pixar’s film-making process with some deleted scenes introduced by Unkrich and Molina.

We have just over a month to wait until we can have the luxury of being able to watch Coco as many times in a row as we want… You can pre-order right now.

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Coco picks up a BAFTA nomination

Awards, Coco, Pixar

Posted by Joanna • January 9, 2018

Coco is continuing its successful trend this awards season after picking up a British Academy Film Awards nomination for Best Animated Film. Its fellow nominees are Polish-British Loving Vincent, and Swiss-French My Life as a Courgette. It’s nice to see such a diverse selection of movies in this category. The three nominees perfectly demonstrate how varied and exciting the world of animation is, all exhibiting different themes, animation techniques, and nationalities.

The BAFTA awards ceremony will taken place on February 18th – just over a month away. We’ll have our fingers crossed for Pixar, but all the nominees would be very worthy winners. Do you have any predictions for the outcomes of the 2018 BAFTAs? Let us know down in the comments, or on Twitter! (@upcomingpixar)

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Coco wins Best Animated Feature at the Golden Globes!

Adrian Molina, Coco, Darla K. Anderson, Golden Globes, Lee Unkrich

Posted by Simoa • January 8, 2018

Coco won the top prize at last night’s 75th annual Golden Globes. The film scored two nominations: one for “Remember Me” in Best Original Song and Best Animated Feature. While we hoped the film would walk away with both awards last night, we are incredibly happy for its Best Animated win!

 

Watch the clip below of Lee Unkrich accepting the Globe, along with co-director Adrian Molina and producer Darla K. Anderson.

 

Coco has made such a tremendous impact, both in Mexico and around the world. This truly is an honor for everyone involved, particularly the Mexican and Latino artists, consultants, and the actors who lent their voice talent to the film.

You can also watch the backstage video, in which the three answered questions from reporters and discussed the film’s enormous success worldwide. They re-emphasized their commitment to telling a story free of cliches. They also addressed the current John Lasseter situation, explaining their hopes for creating a safer environment with integrity, and making Pixar a better place for people to create art.

As Adrian Molina said, Coco is an encouraging film, for himself and the rest of the crew who worked on it. By creating an environment that prioritizes and includes more diverse voices, Pixar is taking steps to become better, and hopefully this will lead to even more positive change.

Congratulations to Lee, Adrian, Darla, and the entire cast and crew for their Golden Globe win! Be sure to check back here for more awards show coverage.

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Coco nominated for two Golden Globe awards

Awards, Coco, Golden Globes, Pixar

Posted by Joanna • December 11, 2017

The award nominations are still streaming in for Pixar’s latest movie Coco. It’s already dominating the Annies Awards with an impressive 13 nominations, and now it’s been nominated for two awards at the 2018 Golden Globes – ‘Best Animated Feature Film’ and ‘Best Original Song’ for ‘Remember Me’. See below for the full list of nominees in these categories:

Best animated feature film
The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Coco
Ferdinand
Loving Vincent

Best original song
“Home,” “Ferdinand
“Mighty River,” “Mudbound
“Remember Me,” “Coco
“The Star,” “The Star
“This Is Me,” “The Greatest Showman

We won’t have to wait long to find out whether Coco and ‘Remember Me’ will be the winners of their categories – the 75th Golden Globe Awards ceremony will be held on January 7th, 2018, at 5pm PST.

It’s been amazing seeing how Coco has affected the world in the short time since its release. 13 Annies Awards nominations, 2 Golden Globe nominations, thousands of overwhelmingly positive and touching reviews – and it’s not even out worldwide yet! In the US, it has topped the weekend box office for 3 weeks in a row, something that only 3 other Pixar movies has achieved (Toy Story and Toy Story 2 topped the box office 2 weeks in a row, and Finding Dory topped it an impressive 4 weeks in a row). And this is only the beginning of Coco‘s journey to inevitably becoming a beloved classic.

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Coco’s success continues with 13 Annie Awards nominations

Annie Awards, Cars 3, Coco

Posted by Joanna • December 4, 2017

In the short time since Coco‘s release, it’s already made a huge impact on the world, earning significant praise from fans and critics alike. It’s hardly surprising, but incredibly gratifying, that Coco has come out on top with the 45th annual Annie Awards nominations.

Coco received an impressive 13 nominations, including Best Animated Feature and Outstanding Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature Production. It even picked up a nomination for voice acting after Anthony Gonzalez’ spectacular performance as the protagonist Miguel, making him the youngest nominee in this section!

Cars 3 also received 2 nominations – one for Best Animated Feature, and one for Outstanding Achievement for Animated Effects in an Animated Production.

The Annie Awards is an annual event recognising achievements in the animation industry. The winners will be announced in their awards show on February 3rd, 2018. Congratulations to all the hard-working and dedicated staff that have worked on all of the nominated works!

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Bringing the music of Coco to life

Adrian Molina, Coco, Michael Giacchino, music

Posted by Simoa • November 29, 2017

Coco has won over audiences with its vivid portrayal of familial love. As much as it celebrates family, it is also a celebration of music.

Music is intimately woven into Coco, more than it is in any other Pixar film. This is only to be expected since its hero Miguel is an aspiring musician, but Coco‘s music is also influenced by Mexico which further sets it apart from other Pixar features. The filmmakers were committed to telling a story that eschewed stereotypes, one that painted an authentic and multifaceted portrait of Mexican people. The music would need these qualities as well. To achieve musical authenticity, songwriter Germaine Franco and consultant Camilo Lara were recruited to the team.

During the film’s press day in August, we were treated to a firsthand listen, learning about the myriad ways music blended into the film. And that musical presence springs directly from Miguel’s secret dream.

Federico Ramos, Michael Giacchino, Germaine Franco, Camilo Lara and Adrian Molina present at “Coco” Long Lead Press Day, which included a filmmaker roundtable, presentations about the music, story, characters and set designs of the film, on August 4, 2017 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Marc Flores / Pixar)

There are three types of music to be heard in Coco. The source music was very important, as it pulled from Mexico’s broad tapestry of traditional music. Mariachi is one example that figures prominently within the film.

Original songs inspired by Mexican music were written by co-director Adrian Molina, along with Franco, Bobby Lopez, and Kristen-Anderson Lopez. “Remember Me,” Ernesto de la Cruz’s most famous song, is a show stopping spectacle that recalls the glamour of Mexico’s Golden Age of cinema. Franco also noted that the song continuously reinforces the film’s theme of remembering our loved ones. The energetic “Un Poco Loco” with lyrics by Molina has a middle section which includes instrumentals only. This is one of the ways in which Lara’s purpose to create music that smells like Mexico was achieved.

Then of course is the score which encompasses character themes, as well as conflict and setting.

Federico Ramos, Michael Giacchino, Germaine Franco, Camilo Lara and Adrian Molina present at “Coco” Long Lead Press Day, which included a filmmaker roundtable, presentations about the music, story, characters and set designs of the film, on August 4, 2017 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Marc Flores / Pixar)

 

Michael Giacchino is one of Pixar’s most cherished collaborators. Coco marks his sixth film in this partnership. He detailed his process in composing the score, which began after he watched the film. It was a very emotional experience, not least because it brought him back to his childhood. Giacchino grew up listening to Mexican music, which he described as very melodic. Incorporating that sound into the score was a priority.

Giacchino is Italian, but the idea of family is so incredibly strong that he connected to the story, and the same is true for non Mexicans who have embraced Coco.

Authenticity is key in Coco, right down to the smallest details. The way Miguel strums the guitar had to be accurate. Pixar’s animators were praised as well for their attention to detail and making the guitar playing correct. The gorgeously designed guitar appears below.

The guitar at “Coco” Long Lead Press Day, which included a filmmaker roundtable, presentations about the music, story, characters and set designs of the film, on August 3, 2017 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

And it was this guitar that Federico Ramos (pictured above) played! As Giacchino said, the guitar was the only way to play the music of the film.

To learn more about the songwriting and scoring process, watch the featurette below. You can also catch a glimpse of the many musicians whom Franco praised for adding their own artistry and spirit to the music.

Though Coco details death and the afterlife, it’s a lively film and the music lives and breathes too.

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