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Pixar’s awards hopes may lie with its short film, not ‘Cars 2’

January 16, 2012 |  1:50 pm

'Cars 2' and 'La Luna'

When Pixar's "Cars 2" lost the Golden Globe award for animated feature to Steven Spielberg's 3-D performance-capture film "The Adventures of Tintin" at Sunday's 69th ceremony, it marked the first time in the history of the Globes' category that a movie from the beloved animation house failed to capture the top prize.

That doesn't bode well for the John Lasseter-directed sequel to the 2006 film about race car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and the friends he makes in the little burg of Radiator Springs, given that the Golden Globe winner for animated feature has been repeated at the Academy Awards for the past four years (with all Pixar films).

If the trend holds, that means “Tintin” will take home Oscar gold.

“Sequels, I think, have a harder time [winning awards]," Lasseter told 24 Frames on the red carpet at the Golden Globes on Sunday. "But every sequel at Pixar is something totally different, and it’s as good or better than the original.”

That certainly was true with “Toy Story 3,” which last year earned an Oscar and a Golden Globe for  animated feature, in addition to a best picture Oscar nomination. But “Cars 2” — which has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of just 39% fresh — hasn’t won over audiences and critics as easily as the 2010 threequel.

This time around, Pixar's best Oscar hopes might lie in the animated shorts category, where its seven-minute film “La Luna” has made the shortlist. (Nominations will be announced Jan. 24.) Lasseter said when the short’s director, Enrico Casarosa, pitched him the idea for the mystical coming-of-age story, “It had this magic to it. I knew it would be so special.”

“We love making short films at Pixar,” he added. “They're these labors of love, these artists’ little visions, and they’re these beautiful little things. It’s not corporate filmmaking. It’s an artist really bringing something to life at Pixar.”

Casarosa felt similarly about Pixar shorts, as he told 24 Frames last month that the “La Luna” production “felt like a small studio inside a bigger one.”

“La Luna” qualified for Oscar consideration during its festival run and will screen in front of Pixar’s 2012 feature film “Brave,” which hits theaters June 22.

The animation studio chose “La Luna” over its two 2011 shorts featuring “Toy Story” characters to submit for academy consideration. But that doesn’t mean Pixar has outgrown Buzz and Woody — Lasseter told 24 Frames that more shorts with the beloved characters are on the horizon.

“We got some more in the works. We love those characters. We just want to keep bringing them to life,” he said.


Oscar shorts: Pixar takes on new poetic tone with ‘La Luna’

The Oscar race for animated short is down to 10, puddy tat

Golden Globes: Steven Spielberg says 'Tintin' is an animated 'buddy movie'

— Emily Rome


Photo: Pixar films "Cars 2," left, and "La Luna." Credit: Disney / Pixar