A fairly common trend over the last few years has been a growing frustration among some people at the idea that the Christmas season is beginning earlier and earlier. Holiday music starts playing well before Thanksgiving, decorations go up near the beginning of November, and so on. In the world of film, the closest parallel is that of awards season (or the ever-expanding length of the summer movie season). There was a time when the Oscars were presented near the end of March. These days, it seems more likely that the Oscars ceremony might soon come near the beginning of February or beforehand. That, of course, has a ripple effect: every other awards body announces its victors before the Oscars, with some organizations starting, this year, as early as two weeks from now. But even the Oscars are jumping the gun, at least in terms of announcing some features and shorts that have made it onto their shortlists and longlists. Those lists include potential nominees for Best Animated Feature and Best Animated Short. For Pixar, there’s good and bad news within those lists.
It’s high time that Pixar was funny again. Before you begin writing fierce and angry comments, keep reading, even if you’re tempted not to. When people think of Pixar’s highest creative peak, they likely consider the four films released between 2007 and 2010: Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up, and Toy Story 3, movies typified more by their emotional highs than comic highs. This is not to say that this quartet of films aren’t funny; they are, and frequently so. But think of Up, and you hear the tinkling sounds of Michael Giacchino’s Oscar-winning score and the “Married Life” montage in its opening act. Consider WALL-E, and you may think of WALL-E and Eve swirling around in space, triumphant in their mutual admiration and determined to help the human race evolve once more. And Toy Story 3’s final act is an emotional flood for most audiences. Pixar hasn’t stopped being funny, but they’ve allowed themselves to be swept away by that flood.