Toy Story 3 comes out on Friday, and the sense that I’m getting from early reviews is that Pixar, the most dependable studio in the world, has once again created an entertaining, touching film fit for the whole family. So what else is new? Still, it doesn’t seem like the film will get the same instant acclaim that Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, WALL-E and Up all recevied, meaning this year someone MIGHT be able to crack Pixar’s stranglehold on the Animated Feature Oscar (in the 9 years the category has existed, Pixar has won 5 times; Monsters, Inc. and Cars were the only Pixar films in that time to NOT win).
There will be stiff competition this year, however; already, How to Train Your Dragon hit a level of critical and popular acclaim usually reserved for, well, Pixar. The real critics’ darling, though, is likely to be The Illusionist, the new film by Sylvain Chomet (The Triples of Belleville), if the reaction to its debut at the Berlin Film Festival is to be trusted. Stunning visuals should give it the respect of the animation community; combine that with the pedigree of a Jacques Tati script, and we could see the second foreign language film to take the Animated Feature category (the first being Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away in 2003). My anticipation grows.