Oscar Profile: Toy Story 3

by Tom Ingram

Who doesn’t like Toy Story? It was a perfect family movie, balancing slapstick and childlike wonder with surprisingly mature emotional exploration. It had something for everybody. The second movie turned out, in a shocking twist, to be as good as if not better than the first. These movies, like the Harry Potter series, have grown up with their audience. The original 90s Toy Story fans, myself among them, are around the same age that Andy is in Toy Story 3, and so this movie strikes a very personal chord.

Years after the second Toy Story, Woody, Buzz, and the gang are confined to a toybox. They haven’t been played with in years. They make a last-ditch attempt to get their owner Andy to play with them again, but it fails. Andy is going to college, and his room is being cleared out. Everything he doesn’t take with him is either thrown away, put in the attic, or donated.

Through a series of mistakes, the toys end up at Sunnyside Day Care, which seems to be a utopian toyland ruled by the soft-spoken pink bear Lotso Hugs. Woody, however, is insistent that they return home, and it’s not till he gets separated from the group that they learn the horrible truth: Sunnyside is a miserable prison and Lotso is a sadistic tyrant. The toys have to band together again to escape, not knowing whether there will be a home for them once they do.

As you’d expect from a Toy Story movie, it features top-notch voice talent, even for minor characters. Wallace Shawn, Don Rickles, Estelle Harris, Michael Keaton, R. Lee Ermey, and even Timothy Dalton all have delightful parts. The animation continues to push the envelope. You can almost feel some of the textures.

Nominations

Toy Story 3 is up for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Animated Feature, Best Original Song, and Best Sound Editing. It’s nice that it got the Best Picture nomination, but let’s be honest with ourselves: it’s only on the list because they expanded it to ten slots. The perception is still that animated movies can’t win Best Picture, and I would be very surprised if Toy Story pulled it off.

I’m not sure if it should get Best Adapted Screenplay, because it’s up against some heavy contenders. The writing was great, and I wouldn’t be upset if it did win. But I don’t think it will. Randy Newman’s “We Belong Together” is a pretty good tune. Not as catchy and iconic as “You’ve Got A Friend In Me”, but he certainly deserves an Oscar for his work on the Toy Story series and I suspect this will be how he’ll get it.

I can’t imagine Toy Story 3 not winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. It’s a shame, because this year’s Dreamworks picture, How To Train Your Dragon, would ordinarily be a serious candidate. So it goes. There’s always 2013.

I hope this is it for the Toy Story series. Not because the films are bad–only a soulless shell of a human being could say that. But its mission is accomplished. It’s seen its generation through to adulthood. As Andy said before tearfully driving off to university, “Thanks, guys.”

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