Oscar Moment: “Toy Story 3”

29 03 2010

The 2009 Oscars were a little more than three weeks ago, so I think we’re ready to move onto 2010.  Next year’s ceremonies are 47 weeks away, but it’s never too early to start the chatter.

I felt like I should kick off my Oscars commentary this year with something that we all know will be in the running in some shape or form: “Toy Story 3,” the latest Pixar output.

Because it bears the Pixar brand, it automatically becomes the frontrunner in the Best Animated Feature race.  In the nine years that the category has been around, Pixar has won five of the seven times it has had a movie in the category (losing only with “Monsters, Inc.” and “Cars”) and the last three years in a row.  The studio is a juggernaut, and their movies clearly stand head and shoulders above any other animated film.

And “Up” scored Pixar its first nomination for Best Picture last year.  The expanded field is no doubt to thank for this, but it got me thinking.  With ten nominees every year, will there always be a spot for Pixar’s movie?

I looked at the history of the category, and it really doesn’t lend us any insight.  To be honest, it’s pointless and arbitrary to apply the rules of a five nomination field to one with ten.  But it’s obvious that having more nominees increases the chance for a niche to be carved in the category.  I think few can argue with the fact that Pixar has the respect in the industry to have their movies represented repeatedly.

But ultimately, it comes down to the movie, as it always does.  And “Toy Story 3” as expectations almost as unreal as flying a house with balloons.  Both of the original “Toy Story” movies have a perfect 100 score on Rotten Tomatoes, but in the eleven years since, Pixar has continued its unprecedented run with only one movie with below a 95.  “Cars” scored a 75% largely because the plot was stale in comparison to the other gems (in fact, it was the only Pixar movie since 2003 not to score a Best Original Screenplay nomination).

That proves a perfect segue into what must be the key element of “Toy Story 3”: the story.  People have incredibly fond memories of the first two installments, and in order to hit big with audiences, it has to strike the perfect chord of staying true to its roots but offering a new and exciting experience.  I’m a little tentative about all the new characters that Pixar is introducing in the movie.  They all need to serve a purpose to the plot and be used tastefully, otherwise they are just noisy lawn ornaments.

But honestly, this is Pixar we are talking about.  Time spent trying to find flaws in their work is time squandered.

Before I leave you, I want to talk about my plans for the “Oscar Moment” column this year.  We’ve been through a whole season together, and looking back, I can’t help but feel like I was just talking to a wall.  I set out to inform, and in doing that, I seemed to forgot to include.  This speculation is only fun if you all engage in it with me.  From now on, I am going to attach polls on Oscar Moments when I feel that they are worthwhile to gauge your opinion.

335 days until Oscars 2010!


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