Janet’s Animation Corner: Animated Awards

In Features by Janet Leigh

It’s Oscar season, and when it comes to animation, there’s a distinct buzz around Pixar. Here’s hoping Riley’s got her emotions in check as Inside Out goes head to head with some pretty stellar films to seize the Mother Load: Best Animated Feature.

Hot off its BAFTA win, Pete Docter’s film has been tipped as the favourite for quite some time. Big deal, right? You saw that coming too? After all, it’s not like they don’t have a gazillion other Oscar awards clinking in their bag already. What’s one more, right? Wrong? Absolutely BIG deal. Big, hefty deal. In fact, it’s rather a huge slap in the face to all those naysayers who claimed that Pixar had lost its spark. But has the animation giant done enough to completely shake off those claims?

For those who regularly read my column (hi Mum, Mum….? No. Ok then *tumbleweed*) cast your mind back to 2015. I wrote a delightful article about how, in the eyes of many others, Pixar had run out creative steam. The ignition to those claims being the 2011 release of Cars 2.  When Lightening McQueen burst on to screens in the original movie, the spunky race car did laps round people’s hearts. So, when it came to the sequel, expectations ran dangerously high. Unfortunately for Pixar, five years on, viewers were less enamoured with McQueen and his pit crew and the sequel was branded a dud.

Now even I – Pixar enthusiast – can admit that Cars 2 wasn’t necessarily their strongest release but it certainly was not worth the first nail in the coffin. I mean, I’d still take a spin round Route 66 with Lightening McQueen any day.

But what’s worse than a disappointing sequel? Two disappointing sequels. The second being Monsters University. Then, when the animation company failed to release a movie in 2014, followed by continuous push backs to The Good Dinosaur’s release date, the rumours really began to soar. Pixar has lost its magic touch.

Fast forward to 2016, and it seems the team are desperately trying to dust off those cobwebs of shame. On the one hand, Inside Out successfully managed to capture the black hearts of those who claimed they were ‘done for’ but on the other, the same could not be said for their second release of the year. Despite the long wait, The Good Dinosaur underperformed at box office, with critics mumbling about “depictions of death and drug induced hallucinations” …Crazy talk to me. I found it pretty darn touching. But I cry at Mulan, so make of that what you will.

Securing an Oscar win this Sunday may be the cake but I fear the icing will come from the much anticipated release of Finding Dory this Summer. That lovable, forgetful fish that will be the benchmark for Pixar’s comeback. All they need to do until then is just keep swimming.