Will Oscar voters fork over a Best Picture berth for ‘Toy Story 4’ like its predecessor? [WATCH VIDEO]

A new trailer has arrived for Pixar’s fourth chapter to its long-running “Toy Story” franchise that blasted off with Tom Hanks voicing  Sheriff Woody and Tim Allen speaking for Buzz Lightyear in 1995. Once again, the computer-animated 3-D tale that opens on June 21 preys upon our emotional attachment to childhood toys –but this time with a twist.

Bonnie, who inherited college-bound Andy’s playthings in 2010’s “Toy Story 3,” has become quite attached to a toy she created herself — a plastic spork called Forky (Tony Hale) who sports pasted-on googly-eyes, pipe cleaner limbs and popsicle stick feet. Woody, who always has his young owner’s back whoever they are, is dismayed when Forky disowns his toy status and becomes enmeshed in an identity crisis, declaring, “I was made for soup, salad, maybe chili, and then the trash” before he leaps out an RV van’s window.

As in the original story, Woody must go on a quest to retrieve Forky and convince him — like he had to with Buzz originally — that he is indeed a toy, one that will create fond memories for Bonnie as she gets older. There is something meta about a third sequel that recycles both a storyline and features a recycled character.  Along the way, the pair happen upon an antique store and meets baby doll Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks)and some creepy ventriloquist dummies before reuniting with his onetime squeeze Little Bo-Peep (Annie Potts) who uses her shepherd’s hook like a ninja these days.

SEE Tom Hanks’ 20 greatest films, ranked worst to best, including ‘Big’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan’

Given that the trailer has nearly 15 million views on YouTube, it is clear that this franchise still creates a gotta-see buzz. The real question?  Can a fourth film in a series, especially a ‘toon feature,  find a place in the Best Picture category? One already has: 2015’s “Mad Max: Fury Road,” which earned 10 nominations and scored six wins. It was the first film in the action franchise to get near an Oscar. Little wonder that Bo-Peep seems to have some Furiosa in her these days.

When the academy expanded the number of possible slots in the best-pic race to a possible 10 titles, “Toy Story 3” claimed a spot as just the third animated film to compete for the top prize following 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast” and 2009’s “Up.” It ended up winning Animated Feature and Best Original Song for “We Belong Together.”

In case you are wondering, the six other sequels that also got into the Best Picture race are 1945’s “The Bells of St. Mary’s,” 1974 winner “The Godfather: Part II,” 1992 winner “The Silence of the Lambs,” 2002’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”  and 2003 winner “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

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