The Oscar Project
I must admit I had no idea when I started this bracket challenge in early March how it would turn out. I just wanted to do a fun little bracket to get some engagement here on the site during the actual March Madness going on in basketball, and it surpassed my wildest dreams.
But enough of my rambling, you want to know who the winner is. Well, I purposely used the Pixar logo image here to force the actual winner announcement down the page a little bit. I had to make you work for it and scroll at least a little before giving you the answer.
And the winner is...
I had a vague feeling back at the beginning of this whole thing that this would be the result, but based on how some of the voting went early on, I wasn't sure if it would actually happen.
The final round came down to the difference of just a couple votes with Toy Story edging out The Incredibles by 5.26 percentage points. Any closer and it would have been a draw that I would have had to decide myself.
What this bracket really showed me about the Pixar films is that they are all REALLY good. The fact that many of the match-ups came down to one or two votes making the decision one way or the other tells me that it's really hard to separate which of these films is better than the others.
I've had a few conversations with folks about this who were aghast at how a certain film could've beaten another film, and I assure them that if I ran this same bracket again with the same seeding, it would probably turn out different, just like the actual basketball tournament. If I seeded the films differently, it would be a completely different outcome. We might end up with the same winner 8-9 times out of 10, but the path to get there would change each time.
If you're interested in getting an email update on the next bracket for the month of April, please drop your name and email in the form below and you'll get all the important updates as I announce the next bracket!
Just like the previous round, the semifinals did not disappoint, and provided two very close match-ups. In the end it was the powerhouse duo of Buzz Lightyear and Woody from the #2 seed Toy Story taking it to Mike and Sully from the #11 seed Monsters, Inc. and coming away with a spot in the finals. It was a bit of an improbable run for the Monsters, Inc. crew, having to take on Cars 3 in the first round followed by two much closer match-ups against powerhouses #6 Up and #3 Finding Nemo. Ultimately, Toy Story just proved to be too strong this round, and Monsters, Inc. was eliminated.
On the other side of the final, we find #9 The Incredibles. The super Parr family that first graced the screen in 2004 also had to beat several heavy hitters including their second round match-up with Coco (8), quarterfinals against top seed Toy Story 2 and finally knocking out 4th seed Inside Out in the semis. It remains to be seen if the Parr's can take out Buzz and Woody a second time to claim the overall championship and be declared The Oscar Project's Best Pixar Movie of 2021.
Lastly, I added a few extra questions to the survey this time. I'm just trying to gather some feedback on how people liked this diversion and get suggestions for future versions of this. Please take a second to complete those other questions after you vote as it will be a huge help in trying to target content for this page. Thanks!
Today is the day where the NCAA basketball tournament officially starts with four play-in games. With those games kicking off, it's time to move on to our semi-final match-ups with only four films remaining.
The quarter finals provided some of our closest match-ups to date and two of them came down to a single vote. At the top of the bracket, overall number one seed Toy Story 2 was knocked off by 9th seeded The Incredibles. Meeting The Incredibles in the first semifinal match-up is 4th seeded Inside Out after they knocked off the remaining Cinderella, 21st seeded Cars.
In the other close game, 11th seeded Monsters, Inc. narrowly defeated #3 seed Finding Nemo with one deciding vote. Mike and Sully will face off against #2 seed Toy Story, the only remaining Toy Story film, the only film remaining from the 1990s, and of course the earliest released film out of the remaining contenders.
So we are down to 4 films left and they are some REALLY strong contenders. I would be OK with just about any of these four films winning the entire thing. I also want to look forward to the next bracket we can do like this once we're done with Pixar films. I've had a few thoughts, but want your feedback as well. Before you go vote for the semifinal round, drop a quick comment below with a bracket of films we could explore.
I am starting off our deeper dive coverage of the films nominated for Oscars this year with a look at the three short film categories, Best Documentary Short Film, Best Animated Short Film, and Best Live Action Short Film.
I personally love these categories because you often get a wide range of stories all packed into small packages. Many of the films, especially in the animated category, are less than ten minutes long, so you can sit down and watch the entire category in less time than it takes to watch a full feature film, if you can find them that is.
That's the true struggle with these films. They rarely get released to theaters outside of film festivals, but with the rise of online streaming services and sites like Vimeo and YouTube, many of these are more accessible than ever. Out of the 15 nominees across the three short film categories, seven are readily available on YouTube, Netflix and Disney+. The remaining eight do not currently have distribution as of this writing, but may be released publicly prior to the Academy Award ceremony.
Best Documentary Short Film
With four of these five films available online, I was able to sit down and watch them back to back. I wish I could say these documentaries were uplifting and lighthearted, but with subjects ranging from anti-government protests in Hong Kong to the murder of a young girl to a WWII French Resistance fighter visiting the concentration camp where her brother died, you won't find much levity here. About the closest you'll come is the conversation between a grandfather and grandson on the eve of the younger man's concerto debut in concert.
These films are all fantastic. As I have some more time to digest them and think about them, I'm sure one or two may rise to the surface as my favorite to win the award, but right now they are all too fresh in my mind to make a pick.
Best Animated Short Film
The animated short film category is one that has been owned by Pixar shorts off and on for some time. However, as cute as "Burrow" is, I don't think it is strong enough to take home the prize this year. I say this having only seen that and "If Anything Happens I Love You," but already that film has my vote for the award. Fair warning, don't read anything about it before you watch, not even my summary below. The best way to watch that short is to go in blind.
I am hoping to get a chance to see the other three films, especially "Opera" which brings a very intriguing premise. As I am able to view them, I will update here with my thoughts as well as short reviews of each.
Best Live Action Short Film
As of this writing, I've only seen one film from this group but it is fantastic. The premise of "Feeling Through" is truly unique and once again, I went in knowing very little of what it was about.
I am also intrigued to see "The Letter Room" which stars Hollywood actor Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, Star Wars, Inside Llewyn Davis) He has been seen in a number of big budget films over the last decade or so, that I look forward to seeing what he is able to do in a short film format.
Finally, I recently heard an interview with Lawrence Bender, the producer of "Two Distant Strangers" as well as Joey Bada$$ who stars in the film. The story sounds like an intriguing look at police brutality in America mixed with a concept familiar to anyone who has seen Palm Springs (review) or Groundhog Day.
Today is Selection Sunday when it comes to the big basketball tournament, but what matters here is these Pixar films that are getting votes. We are on to the quarterfinals this week with only eight films left in the running.
Amazingly, there is one Cinderella left in our little tournament. Our 21st seeded Cars has made it all the way from the initial play in round where it beat out 12th seeded WALL-E, and through the second round match-up against the 5th seeded tearjerker Toy Story 3. Now it's matched up against another heavyweight in Inside Out.
The biggest blowout of round 2 was both of our undersea adventures. After getting out of the first round, 14th seeded Finding Dory was no match for the power of 3rd seeded Finding Nemo. The little clownfish now faces off against 11th seeded Monsters, Inc. which upset the high flying adventure and 6th seeded Up.
In the bottom of the bracket, 2nd seed Toy Story, Pixar's first feature film, held strong with a commanding win over 15th seeded Incredibles 2 and will face off against 10th seeded Ratatouille. We will see if the little rat that cooks can hold up against Woody and Buzz a second time after beating out 7th seeded Toy Story 4 in round 2.
Finally, at the very top, number one seed Toy Story 2 logged a decisive victory over 2020's first Pixar film (and 17 seed) Onward. The first Pixar sequel will face off against 9th seeded The Incredibles in the quarterfinals after the super family narrowly upset 8th seeded Coco.
So there's your bracket up to this point. With the field dwindling quickly, some of your favorites are likely being eliminated, so make sure you keep voting to keep your favorite Pixar films in the running as we look to crown the best Pixar film by the end of March!
Your favorite animated film
Pretty much anything that Pixar puts out over the last 25 years has been an instant classic, from Toy Story launching the genre of animated feature into the computer generated age, to visual spectacles like Finding Nemo taking us under the ocean and WALL-E taking us into deep space. On the surface, Pixar films are about animals, robots, monsters, or toys, but they all tell an essentially human story.
None is more human than exploring the emotions that each of us deal with on a daily basis and what better vehicle for this exploration that looking through the lens of a young girl going through some of the biggest changes and toughest challenges of her life. That is what Inside Out gives us and does it with perfection.
This film does it all. It makes you laugh (and get slightly annoyed) any time the Triple Dent gum jingle comes up. It makes you get angry right along with Riley when her dad is too busy with work to spend time with her (guilty). And don’t even get me started on Bing Bong’s sacrifice to help Joy. If you can watch that part of the film without at least tearing up, then you’re not human. It gets me every time and I’m honestly getting a little choked up just writing about it now.
Now, I’ve watched a ton of animated films in my time (anyone with kids knows how it works) and I can honestly say this is the best I’ve ever seen. Other films hit on some elements that you find in Inside Out, but none of them hit all the notes. Toy Story doesn’t really anger me or sadden me, unless you’re talking about the finale of Toy Story 3. The classic Disney animated princess films were never really intended to run this range of emotion. Films like An American Tale and The Land Before Time hit many of the emotions, but don’t stand up to the test of time visually.
If you’ve seen Inside Out, you know the emotional roller coaster of watching it as an adult. If you have kids, I hope you can use it as a vehicle to talk with your kids about their emotions. Call out when your family members are starting to burn up like Anger or express their displeasure like Disgust. In the end, Inside Out is about each and every one of us. We all have those variety of emotions inside us, and part of living a fulfilling life is understanding that all those emotions need their time. We can’t be happy all the time, just as we can’t always be angry, sad, disgusted, or afraid. It’s the balance of these aspects that makes us who we are.
Inside Out is available on Disney+.
Day 5 - A film where a character had a job you want | Day 7 - A film that you will never get tired of
We're on to a smaller batch of films that are coming to Disney+ next month and taking a look at the list of Pixar animated films.
If you haven't already checked out the previous posts in this series, please go back and look at the list of live action films and animated films coming to Disney+ when the service kicks off in a few weeks.
Pixar has done it again. Coco is a stunning film that delivers fantastic visuals, rousing musical numbers, and a truly emotional story that will bring the family to tears.
The film was nominated for Best Animated Feature as well as Best Original Song, for "Remember Me," winning in both categories and continuing the tradition of Pixar's success at the Oscars over the last thirty years.
At its core, it is a story of the importance of family, and never forgetting where you came from. Being set against the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos gives it an additional pop and lends itself to the beautiful colors and pageantry seen throughout the film.
I think it is safe to say that "Lou" is the first of the 2017 Oscar Nominated films I saw. This short film was presented before showings of Cars 3's theatrical release starting in June of 2017. Since I have kids that are the right age to love pretty much anything Pixar sends our way, we trekked out to see this one in the theater (actually as part of a double feature with Despicable Me 3 at the drive-in.
As with most Pixar entries into the animated short film category, this one quickly jumps to the top of the list and when I first saw it, I had a strong feeling "Lou" would take home the Oscar this year. The story is simple and easy to relate to. A bully on the playground is taking other kids' toys, he must learn his lesson with the help of...well, Lou. The characters are a little goofy, but at the same time very genuine with easy to understand motives.
I'm just a film buff who wants to watch great movies. Where else to find the best, than the list of those nominated by the Academy each year?