Disney still flogging away at its ‘Toy Story 3’ best picture campaign


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As I’ve noted in the past, I think Pixar’s ‘Toy Story 3’ is easily one of the best films of 2010, but its chances of winning an Oscar for best picture this year are about as good (and I say this as a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan) as the Cubs winning the World Series. It just ain’t gonna happen -- not as long as most of the motion picture academy seems to view family-oriented animation films as lightweight fare.

So even though Disney has spent more millions than ever touting the film’s Oscar pedigree, it’s really, really throwing good money after bad. The film is pretty much a shoo-in to make one of the 10 best picture slots, but the odds are re-aaaaa-lly long when it comes to its chances of winning a statuette outside of the animation category. But what I don’t get is why Disney spent even more moola swaddling Thursday’s Envelope section with what is known in Hollywood marketing parlance as a ‘belly band,’ a wraparound sleeve featuring a picture of Buzz Lightyear carrying Jessie and adorned with another blurb singing the praises of the film.


The belly band wasn’t such a bad idea. But since Disney has been going around everywhere pronouncing the film as the best-reviewed movie of the year, couldn’t it have used a more serious critic to wax eloquent on the ad than Scott Mantz from ‘Access Hollywood’? Inside the Envelope issue, the studio ran a two-page ad with blurbs from all sorts of critical heavyweights, including my colleague Kenny Turan, the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern, Time’s Richard Corliss and the New York Times’ A.O. Scott. Why not feature one of their plaudits instead?

As it turns out, according to veteran awards-season wizard Tony Angellotti, who’s helping run the Disney Oscar campaign this year, the studio used Mantz because--gasp!--he was one of the few critics who expressly gave props to the film’s director, Lee Unkrich, and its writer, Michael Arndt. Disney has been trying to raise their profile to help give them a boost in their own quest for academy recognition. As Angellotti told me: ‘As you yourself stated in a previous story, animated feature filmmakers are too often overlooked by the media for their remarkable contributions. Thus, we wanted to underscore these filmmakers individually.’

Fair enough. But I go to ‘Access Hollywood’ for celebrity sightings, not cinematic perspective. If Disney really wants ‘Toy Story 3’ and its filmmaking team to be taken seriously, it should find a critic from a serious publication to sing their praises.

--Patrick Goldstein