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Oscar nominations: 'Toy Story 3' director Lee Unkrich breaking new ground

January 25, 2011 |  9:31 am

Toy Story 
Don’t try to tell “Toy Story 3” director Lee Unkrich that the expanded field of 10 nominees in the best picture category diminishes the honor in any way. “No way, we are thrilled. It is one of those things where you wonder if we would have gotten in there if there were only five films, but in no way does it make us enjoy this any less.”

“Toy Story 3” stands as the highest-grossing animated film ever with more than $1 billion in worldwide box-office sales, but Unkrich said he came into the project with apprehension about living up to the commercial and artistic successes of past Pixar films such as “Up,” “Finding Nemo” and “Ratatouille.” Unkrich is a Pixar veteran, but this was his first time in the lead director’s chair.

“I had lived vicariously up to this point through the nominations and awards for my colleagues, and it’s an amazing feeling now to see that it’s our turn,” said Unkrich, whose movie was also nominated in the best animated film category, where it will compete with "How to Train Your Dragon" and "The Illusionist."

The best picture nomination for “Toy Story 3” came as a surprise, Unkrich said, because of the historical disdain for sequels in that category. “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” named best picture of 2003, was the third film in that mega-franchise, so it’s not completely unprecedented.

“Somebody told me that we are the first sequel that was nominated for best picture without the benefit of one of the earlier films [in its franchise] being nominated, and that’s an amazing thing, really,” Unkrich said. “Only a handful of sequels have ever been nominated so we really didn’t think the best picture nomination was in the cards for us. The fact that we did get nominated in that category makes us very, very proud.”

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 -- Geoff Boucher 

Photo: "Toy Story 3." Credit: Pixar

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