Cue the band! ‘Soul’ could become 10th animated film to earn screenplay Oscar nomination

Just nine animated films have ever earned Oscar nominations for their screenplays, but the upcoming Disney/Pixar release “Soul” is currently on track to join their ranks. According to Gold Derby’s racetrack odds, the script penned by Pete Docter, Mike Jones and Kemp Powers is among the top five contenders to be nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the 2021 Academy Awards. Can “Soul” become just the 10th animated feature to be nominated for this prestigious prize?

SEE Pixar’s ‘Soul’ to be released by Disney Plus on Christmas Day

Of the nine animated films that have previously earned screenplay nominations throughout the Academy’s 92-year history, eight have come from the Disney/Pixar partnership, which is good news for “Soul.” The writing team behind 1995’s classic “Toy Story” was the first to break through with a nomination for Best Original Screenplay. The other Disney/Pixar films nominated in this category were “Finding Nemo” (2003), “The Incredibles” (2004), “Ratatouille” (2007), “WALL-E” (2008), “Up” (2009) and “Inside Out” (2015). On the Adapted Screenplay side, “Toy Story 3” (2010) earned a nomination for its script based on previous works. The only non-Disney/Pixar film nominated was DreamWorks’ “Shrek” for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2001.

“Soul” premiered at the BFI London Film Festival on October 11 and will be digitally released on December 25 on Disney+. In “Soul,” a middle school band teacher named Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx) receives news he will have an opportunity to play at the best jazz club in town. In his excitement, Joe races through the streets and falls down a pothole, transporting himself into a fantastical world known as The Great Before, a place where new souls develop before they arrive on Earth. Joining Foxx, the film also features the voice talents of Tina Fey, Phylicia RashadAhmir ‘Questlove’ ThompsonAngela Bassett and Daveed Diggs. Original jazz music was created by Jon Batiste and the score was composed by Oscar winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (“The Social Network”).

If “Soul” can snag a nomination for Best Original Screenplay it would also secure its spot as the heavy front-runner to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Since the Academy began handing out statuettes for animated films in 2001, every single one nominated in a screenplay category has won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. And while “Soul” has a good shot at earning a nom for Best Original Screenplay, winning that category would make history. No animated film has ever won an Oscar for its screenplay. Could “Soul” be the first?

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