Pixar Helps Animated Features Meet Oscar
In 2001, the Academy Awards gave out their first Oscar for best animated feature, and every year since, Pixar Animation Studios’ unique and original films have been nominated. This year, Pixar saw their fifth win in that category and first nomination for best picture with Pete Docter’s "Up." The film also received nods for original screenplay and sound editing, and won for best original score.
"Up" is the second animated film to be nominated for best picture, after Disney’s "Beauty and the Beast" in 1991.
Loren Carpenter, a senior scientist at Pixar, is a voting member of the Academy. “Pretty much all of us expected 'Up' to win the animated feature category,” Carpenter said. However, he said that its other nominations, particularly best picture, were “long shots.”
Animated films rarely receive enough credit, simply because they are animated. “If an animated film is good—or great—people often say, 'It was good, even though it was animated.' They are stuck in thinking animated films are Saturday morning kid stuff,” Carpenter said.
But Pixar researcher Kurt Fleischer is optimistic. “It seems to me that the audiences for animated films continue to grow,” Fleischer said. “And that's the recognition that matters to me.”
There is a lot more going on in Pixar’s films, as well as many other animated films, than usually perceived.
“At Pixar, story is paramount,” said Fleischer. “In my opinion, that's what makes our movies successful.”
Carpenter said, “If any—and I mean any—employee proposes a story that is good enough to be a movie, they would get to direct it.” In practice, only "Cars" co-director Joe Ranft had no previous experience whatsoever in directing.
"Up" is Pete Docter’s second feature film after 2001’s "Monsters, Inc." He struggled with Disney on both films, especially the first, about which Carpenter said, “There were a lot of things he wanted to do that he was talked out of.” However, after an initial struggle persuading Disney on the subject matter, Docter had creative control on his second feature. “With 'Up,' he got his way on pretty much everything.”