For a very long time after falling in love with Disney’s ‘The Lion King’, I didn’t watch animated films. Honestly, I don’t know why. Perhaps it was a belief that no one could make a better animation film. Perhaps it was the bond I shared with Simba. I really don’t know.
And then one fine day, perhaps one of the best days in the life of the film-buff inside me I saw a movie that brought life to every child’s best friends – toys. ‘Toy Story’ was perhaps the game changer of its time. True, Disney was still making animated movies, scores of them. But a little animation studio that was an erstwhile computer graphics division of Lucasfilm, was the brain behind this wonderful game-changer of a film – Pixar Animation Studios. Was the genius of Pixar in its Photorealistic Renderman CGI software, its creative hero John Lasseter or the fact that the man at the helm was Steve Jobs (Yes, Apple’s Steve Jobs)? No one knows. But a daring, brave challenger of an animation studio was born. And with every passing film its cult grew. A section of moviegoers who did not miss a single Pixar film. People like me.
In its 26-year lifespan Pixar has arguably made the most brilliant animation movies in history. And by that I don’t mean technical brilliance. That’s table-stakes. Pixar has infused life into inanimate objects and made us laugh at their jokes, cheer in their victories, cry at their failures, scream at their faults and even love their stories. Be it Buzz Lightyear, Sulley Sullivan, Nemo, Lightning McQueen, Remy, Wall-E or even Carl Fredricksen; every single character has bonded with the audience much more than some live-action characters.
Today, I saw yet another Pixar gem called ‘Brave’. A really brave move by Pixar to have a young woman protagonist. True, Brave is not as good as some other of Pixar’s films such as Finding Nemo, Wall-E and Up. But that’s because every film by Pixar competes with its own films. Compare them to any other animation studio….Sony Pictures Animation, Animal Logic Studios, Dreamworks, Blue Sky Studios…and you’ll know that though the others are hugely competent and creative…they’re not in Pixar’s league. Little wonder, that in 2006 Disney who had been a leader in animated films for ages, bought out Pixar after the hugely successful Cars.
In 2001 the Academy Awards introduced a new category called Best Animated Film. Since then Pixar’s films have won it 6 times, apart from winning an overall 26 Academy Awards. Only 3 times in the history of the Oscars has an animated film been nominated for Best Picture….2 of those are Pixar’s. With all its films being among the 50 highest-grossing animated films and 3 of them being among the 50 highest-grossing films, I think Pixar will need a name change very soon – ‘Pics Czar’.