As expected, 2014 has been fairly quiet so far for Pixar Animation Studios fans. Seeing as both Monsters University and The Blue Umbrella didn’t receive any Oscar nominations, there’s no studio-specific rooting interest in the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony. The next Toy Story TV special won’t be on ABC until, presumably, this December. And, as we all know, there’s still nearly a year and a half until Pixar’s next new feature film, Inside Out. In the meantime, thus, this column could either choose to focus on a recent bit of fan art gone wrong, or accentuate the positive and discuss the ways in which Pixar has embraced the quirks and stylistic flourishes of live-action filmmaking over the years. The latter option is far more palatable and less likely to induce a massive headache on this writer’s part, quite frankly. (Quickly, regarding the former option: inserting Pixar characters into live-action movie posters is a fine idea. Inserting Frozone into the 12 Years a Slave poster, in place of Chiwetel Ejiofor, is at best wildly misguided, and at worst something far more despicable.)
This past weekend, the Golden Globes were handed out, but Monsters University was nowhere to be found as the Hollywood Foreign Press failed to nominate the Pixar film for Best Animated Film. The Globes have been known to be a controversial awards show, though, with many calling it out for its questionable nominees and winners. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (or simply, the Academy), while not exempt from making controversial decisions, is more respected in the industry for the Oscars are still the precipice of awards season. The Oscar nominations were announced this morning, and Pixar will have to miss the Oscar parties as well as Monsters University was completely shut out.
Getting the opportunity to take a peek behind the curtain for a look at how a film is brought to life is enlightening. In the switch from VHS tapes to DVDs, studios began releasing more behind-the-scenes material for packaged films and television shows, providing audiences with additional inside access to productions. For art lovers, this has become an integral part of collecting. DVD and Blu-ray releases of Pixar films have usually included a great assortment of extra features taking us inside the studio and into the minds of the filmmakers. Now, on the web, you can get the closest look at the production of a Pixar film that we have ever seen.
It’s the most controversial time of the year. Awards season is officially underway, with various organizations beginning to announce nominations and even winners for what they consider to be the year’s best films. Where awards shows go, controversy follows closely behind, as bold choices are often made for which films, filmmakers, and actors are celebrated. On Monday, the Los Angeles branch of Association Internationale du Film d’Animation, also known as ASIFA-Hollywood, released their list of nominees for the Annie Awards, an event that many consider to be the biggest night for film and television animation. Pixar’s Monsters University and Toy Story OF TERROR! landed a combined 17 nominations. Find more details about what is in store for Pixar this awards season after the break!
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.
As the calendar turns to November, the awards race begins to heat up in Hollywood. Although the most notable of the awards shows, the Academy Awards, does not take place until March 2014, every studio aims to stay in front of the pack, especially as the holiday season is often stacked with films looking to capture the attention of critics and awards voters. Monsters University will be competing with Disney Animation’s Frozen to receive nominations in the Animated Film category, both of which the Academy stated have been submitted by Disney for contention. However, the Academy has also announced that Pixar’s 2013 short, The Blue Umbrella, did not make the shortlist of animation shorts advancing to the next stage and will not be competing for an Oscar.
We have grown accustomed to expecting a wealth of easter eggs in Pixar films, references to other films in its catalog. The Pizza Planet truck and A113 symbol are the most abundant, with both appearing in almost every Pixar feature film. The most challenging easter eggs tend to be those that reference upcoming films, as it is difficult to know what to look for. It is a tradition to hunt for easter eggs and one that has continued with the studio’s first television special, Toy Story of Terror. Take a look at images of the easter eggs we found after the break!
Depending on your age and attitude, it has become very difficult over the last month to not be cynical about the state of affairs at the Walt Disney Company. Though Disney appears to be, financially, as high as they’ve ever been, the company is cutting costs left and right, up to and including letting long-time employees go. Some of the more high-profile layoffs have targeted, inadvertently, one hopes, touchstones of many a Millennial child. Last year, people thrilled at the idea that Disney was now in league with the seminal video-game company LucasArts as part of buying Lucasfilm as a whole. A few weeks ago, those same people were depressed to hear that Disney shuttered the company for good, essentially outsourcing future video games. And now, Disney’s axed a number of their most venerated employees in the hand-drawn animation department, cementing the notion that hand-drawn animation is persona non grata at a company that built its reputation on that illustrative vision.