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‘Toy Story 4' wins animated feature, giving Pixar Oscar No. 10

Jessie, Buzz Lightyear and Woody in front of a chain-link fence in a scene from “Toy Story 4.”
The big prize: Pixar’s “Toy Story 4" became Pixar’s 10th winner of the animated-feature Oscar.
(Disney / Pixar)

Pixar notched its 10th animated feature Oscar win on Sunday as “Toy Story 4" took home the gold statue. Surprisingly, considering the box-office success of animated sequels, no franchise had ever collected more than one animated feature Oscar until “Toy Story 4" added to the previous installment’s Oscar in the category.

Producer Mark Nielsen said, “We want to thank the moviegoing audience so much, especially those who grew up with ‘Toy Story.’ We hope that your adventures with Woody and Buzz made growing up a little easier.”

“Toy Story 4" also is nominated for Randy Newman’s song, “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away.” Previously, “Toy Story 3" had also been nominated for best picture and adapted screenplay (and won for animated feature).

Producer Jonas Rivera said, “We take great pride in the fact that we get to make family films. ‘Toy Story 4' is a love letter to our families.”

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Director Josh Cooley said, “We are so, so grateful for this honor ... we just want to thank the academy for honoring our film next to so may beautiful animated films this year. we’re just proud to be among them.”

Although the third installment had seemed to beautifully wrap up the story of the secret lives of toys led by cowboy Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), Pixar opted for a fourth film, nine years later. “Toy Story 4" answered questions left open, such as whatever happened to Woody’s love, Bo Peep (voiced by Annie Potts). It introduced some new toy characters, including depressed Evel Kneivel-style stuntman Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves) and adorably neurotic trash refugee Forky (Tony Hale).

New director and co-writer Josh Cooley had grown up with the franchise and felt the burden of following up “Toy Story 3.” He told The Times in December, “I know the joy and the sense of excitement I got, going to those movies in the theater. All that joy I felt as an audience member, I wanted to bring into this film. It needed to continue that legacy and that joy. I had a lot of sleepless nights.”

Trailer for “Toy Story 4.”

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Co-writer Stephany Folsom told The Times then, “I grew up on these movies, ‘Toy Story’ was one of my formative movies, growing up. That’s one of the reasons I got into this business, to tell those kinds of stories.

“[‘Toy Story 3' writer] Michael Arndt was at the studio when I first got hired, and I said to him, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to live up to what you did,’ and he said, ‘Ehh, you’ll be fine,’ ” Folsom says.

The movie opened to $118 million domestically, which was then the fourth-highest animated opening ever, yet that was widely reported as a “disappointment.” It was cited as an example of so-called “franchise fatigue” as some unwanted and disliked sequels underperformed at the 2019 box office. However, “Toy Story 4" went on to gross more than $1 billion. And despite some letdown talk in early reviews, the film ended up with a 97% positive score on Rotten Tomatoes.

“There were waves of responses,” says Cooley. “Before it came out, it was, ‘Why are you making this movie?’ As people saw it, the questions changed, the responses became, ‘I really enjoyed it.’ I was in Mexico after a press screening and people were crying as they’re asking me the questions.

“I was walking through the park with my dog, and I saw some kids at a picnic table, and they were making their own Forkys!”

In its brief history, Pixar has now won 16 Oscars overall, including its 10th in the animated feature category.


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