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Woody and Buzz to the rescue: 'Toy Story 4' could put Pixar back in the Oscar game

June 29, 2011 |  4:05 pm


Pixar flicks usually do well at the Oscars, but "Cars 2" was such a disappointment --at least for critics -- that there's no hope for it to zoom into the Oscar race. However, Tom Hanks just blabbed the news that could put the studio back in the academy contest in the future: "Toy Story 4" is in the works.

Last year's "Toy Story 3" was Pixar's biggest moneymaker to date ($1 billion), and it was a critical hit that earned five Oscar nominations and two wins (best animated feature and best original song).

The "Toy Story" films have a storied awards history. The first film earned director John Lasseter a special achievement Oscar in 1996 for pioneering computer animation technology and it became the first animated film to receive a screenplay nomination. (Its scribes included Pixar stalwarts Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter, as well as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" mastermind Joss Whedon.)  The second film was released in 1999, two years before the creation of the best animated feature category at the Oscars. But it won the Golden Globe for best musical or comedy picture.

It was "Toy Story 3" that made the biggest impression at the Academy Awards. It was the first in the series to receive a nomination for best picture and the second consecutive Pixar film to compete for the top prize. ("Up" was nominated in 2010.) These films were no doubt helped by the academy's recent expansion of best picture contest to 10 nominees, but when "Toy Story 4" hits the marketplace it may not have the same benefit. The academy has once again amended its rules so that now a film must receive a minimum of 5% of the vote to be nominated, which will yield five to 10 nominees in any given year.

Exactly when we might see "Toy Story 4" is unknown; Pixar waited 11 years between the second and third installments. Other projects in the company's pipeline include "Brave," scheduled for a 2012 release, as well as a sequel to "Monsters Inc."

-- Tom O'Neil