Why Pixar’s ‘Soul’ could make Oscar history for Pete Docter

Pixar has built an incredible reputation for filmmaking since its first feature film in 1995, “Toy Story.” As of this year the company has produced 21 animated movies, nearly all box office smashes with the vast majority being critical darlings. And perhaps the most successful director from the prestige studio is Pete Docter. This is why movie watchers are eagerly awaiting his next film, “Soul,” which will be released on Disney+ on Christmas Day. It’s a film where he could make Oscar history by being the first person to win Best Animated Feature three times.

Of Pixar’s first 21 films, Docter has directed three: “Monsters, Inc,” “Up” and “Inside Out.” All these films have a greater than 95% score on Rotten Tomatoes and grossed well over $250 million in the US.

However, it’s perhaps Docter’s award success that speaks best to his regard. He boasts one of only three animated films ever nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. This was achieved in 2009 when “Up” became Pixar’s first film to ever make it into the top category. The other animated Best Picture nominees were “Toy Story 3” (2010) and “Beauty and the Beast” (1991).

Pixar feature films have been nominated for 47 Oscars. The three films that Docter helmed received 11 of those nominations. To put that in perspective, he’s directed less than 15% of their films, but those films have received more than 20% of the nominations. All his films have scored nominations in categories outside of the Animated Feature race, including Screenplay noms for “Up” and “Inside Out.” He also personally has received Oscar bids for writing “Toy Story,” “WALL-E,” “Up” and “Inside Out.”

All his films have won an Oscar as well. While “Monsters, Inc.” lost the first ever Best Animated Feature race to “Shrek,” it was able to win Best Song for Randy Newman’s “If I Didn’t Have You.” His second feature, “Up,” won both Best Animated Feature and Best Score for Michael Giacchino. His third film, “Inside Out,” won his second Best Animated Feature honor (equaling the record). His three films have earned Pixar more than a quarter of their feature Oscars.

And the Oscars have not been outliers. “Up” and “Inside Out” both won the Golden Globe, Annie Award and BAFTA for Best Animated Film in their respective years.

Docter’s next film, “Soul,” tells the story of a high school band teacher (voiced by Jamie Foxx) who has a passion for jazz. If it continues this director’s form, then you can expect it to be the frontrunner for Best Animated Feature at all the relevant 2021 awards. And we will wait to see if he can get another screenplay nomination and break back into the Best Picture race.

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