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Posted at 2:45 PM ET, 01/25/2011

THE 2011 OSCARS: Just how many wins might Disney/Pixar waltz off with?

By Michael Cavna


"Toy Story 3" director Lee Unkrich tweeted that he was "speechless."

In response to this morning's 2011 Academy Awards nominations, though, Unkrich and his Pixar pals can start preparing those speeches. Disney/Pixar received a dozen noms today, as the Academy recognized the studios for storytelling, special effects, sound -- and, in effect, the animated trilogy that changed the industry.

Unkrich's 2010 film is the first in the sublime "Toy Story" series to receive an Oscar nom for Best Animated Feature (the category was created in 2001, after the first two "Toy Story" films were released in the '90s). Unkrich can craft his acceptance now, because "Toy Story 3" looms as a shoo-in in this category -- both as a single film and as a recognition (like "Lord of the Rings") of the trilogy's collective achievement.

(It's worth noting, too, that "Toy Story 3" in this category goes up against DreamWorks Animation's "How to Train Your Dragon," which was directed by Disney studio veterans Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois ["Lilo & Stitch," "The Lion King."])

After campaigning for a Best Picture nod, "Toy Story 3" indeed received a nomination as one of the 10 best films, too. (Last year, "Up" was the first Pixar film to get a Best Picture nom.) The Academy will likely see "TS3's" Animated Film win as due recognition, so Unkrich's film faces a tall order trying to edge out "The King's Speech," "True Grit" and "The Social Network" for the big award.

"Toy Story 3" does have a better shot in the Best Adapted Screenplay, where Michael Arndt -- already an Oscar winner for "Little Miss Sunshine" -- will have to top the likes of "The Social Network's Aaron Sorkin.

"While I wish I could hog all the credit for myself," Arndt said in a statement Tuesday, "I would have gone nowhere and done nothing without the collective brilliance of the entire creative community at Pixar, who have always maintained that 'story comes first' and who are crazy enough to actually believe it."

Elsewhere, Disney/Pixar has the inside track for the Original Song Oscar with twin nominees: "Toy Story 3's" "We Belong Together" (Randy Newman), and "I See the Light" (Alan Menken/Glenn Slater) from "Tangled."

Disney/Pixar also has dual nominations in the Sound Editing category, where "Toy Story 3" will go up against sonic heavyweights "TRON: Legacy" (Disney) and Christopher Nolan's "Inception."

And the film that opened for "Toy Story 3" in theaters -- Teddy Newton's "Day & Night" -- will be a favorite for Best Animated Short.

Disney is competing partly against itself in the Costume Design category, with nominations for Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" (Colleen Atwood) and "The Tempest" (Sandy Powell). ("Alice" is also nominated for Art Direction and Visual Effects.)

(We should note: a host of nominated actors have upcoming Disney projects, too -- including best-actress nominee Natalie Portman, soon to be seen in Marvel's "Thor"; Geoffrey Rush, returning as Barbossa for this summer's "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"; and Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo, both set for 2012's "The Avengers.")

So Disney/Pixar certainly appears poised to waltz off with at least a half-dozen wins come Oscars Night 2011 on Feb. 27. And it is the achievement of "Toy Story" that should especially carry the night for the House of Mouse studios.

"When we began making the first 'Toy Story,' nearly 16 years ago, we never could have imagined the journey on which these films, and these characters, would take us." Unkrich said in a statement. "For 'Toy Story 3' to be recognized by the Academy as not only one of the best animated films of the year, but also as one of the ten best pictures of the year, is both humbling and overwhelming. I'm speechless; I feel like I've been blasted to infinity and beyond."

Well, well, Mr. Unkrich. Sounds like the fertile beginnings of an apt acceptance speech.

The Making of "DAY & NIGHT":

THE 'RIFFS INTERVIEW: How Michael Arndt went from celebrity assistant to 'TOY STORY 3' screenwriter in two moves

THE 'RIFFS INTERVIEW: 'TRAIN YOUR DRAGON' directors enter a new dimension

THE 'RIFFS INTERVIEW: 'UP' Animator Bob Peterson of Pixar

By Michael Cavna  | January 25, 2011; 2:45 PM ET
Categories:  The Animation, The Holly Word  | Tags:  Chris Sanders, Dean BeBlois, Disney, John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, Michael Arndt, Pixar, Teddy Newton  
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Ocasr's for "3": all they are nominated for!

Posted by: ZeldaJane | January 26, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse

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