It’s just under two months until we find out if Up will have what it takes to make Pixar 3 for 3 in the past three years. Of the eight years that the Animated Feature category has been in existence, a Pixar film has been nominated every year they have had one released and they have won the category 4 times. They are the gold standard when it comes to animation and are always the frontrunner for the Oscar. There are two reasons why this year could be different: a break from the trends that have brought Pixar past glory, and more diverse competition.
Up doesn’t have a few things going for it that the four past Pixar winners did. For instance, the only two Pixar directors who have lead films to Oscar gold are Andrew Stanton (Wall-E, Finding Nemo) and Brad Bird (Ratatouille, The Incredibles). Up is directed by Pete Docter, director of 2001 Pixar film Monster’s, Inc., and Bob Peterson, member of the Pixar writing team. How much the director really is in control of the final result when it comes to Pixar is debatable. From watching the many “Making of” and “Behind the Scenes” featurettes from the Pixar DVDs, it’s obvious that Pixar films are very collaborative, and should be accredited to a team than an individual. However, the Academy may see something in Stanton and Bird’s work that they do not see in other Pixar films.
Also, and this is mostly just coincidental, but the pattern in the Animated category is against Up. It has so far been 2 years of non-Pixar wins, then 2 wins, then 2 non…etc. After two years of Pixar wins, the trends point towards another winner.
This year does have a more diverse field of competition than most. Rather than just one great Pixar movie in a field of sub-par CGI. This year we have already seen the 3D stop motion film Coraline, which has had great critical success. Later this year we have renowned director Hayao Miyazaki much anticipated Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea. Miyazaki’s film may just be the “something different” that could dethrone Pixar. If that’s not is, Wes Anderson has assembled an all-star cast of voice actors for his Animated version of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. If Wes keeps it kid-friendly while adding his usual wit, this could be destined for the Oscar spotlight.
If Up is good enough, it may just not matter how good the other films are. The unstoppable Pixar maching will rule.
Check out the poll on the right hand side and decide what you think of this year’s Animated Feature race.