Toy Story Throwback: Toy Story at the Oscars


Even though the next Academy Awards are still a while away, I thought that – with the Emmys this weekend and all – it might be a good time to revisit some of my very favorite archival material relating to the Toy Story films.  I usually don’t make a big fuss over awards shows myself, unless there’s a movie (or a television show, or a musical performer) that I care especially about – needless to say, anything Toy Story would definitely get me to watch!  And I’m no film critic or analyst, by any means, so don’t expect any discussion of the merits of nominations or statistical facts from me here.  With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s take a look at the toys’ presence at the Oscars back in 1996, 2000, and 2011…

Toy Story at the 68th Academy Awards – March 25, 1996

John Lasseter accepting his Special Achievement Award, with Woody and Buzz, at the Oscars in 1996

We’re so used to computer animation nowadays, it’s difficult to grasp just how groundbreaking Toy Story was back in 1995, as the first feature-length animated film.  Although the Best Animated Feature award didn’t exist at that time (it wouldn’t be introduced until 2001), Toy Story was nominated for Best Original Screenplay; and John Lasseter was given a Special Achievement Oscar for his innovation in computer animation:

I love how he says the toys hired their own limo, and Malibu Ken was the driver.  The best part, however, was when the toys came to life after he walked away:

Randy Newman was honored with nominations as well, for Best Original Song (“You’ve Got a Friend in Me”) and Best Original Musical or Comedy Score.   I couldn’t find a video of his performance with Lyle Lovett, but I am thankful for the footage that is still out there from Toy Story‘s first night at the Oscars.  It’s amazing how far Pixar has come since their humble beginnings.  And it’s so much fun to see Woody and Buzz competing for attention at the podium!  Is there anything better than Buzz running around in Woody’s cowboy hat, yelling, “howdy, howdy, howdy!”?  I think not.

Toy Story 2 at the 72nd Academy Awards – March 26, 2000

TS2 Oscars

Toy Story 2‘s presence at the 2000 Oscars was once the subject of much frustration for my friends and me.  See, we’d found a tiny snippet of the poster above, just a cropped image of Buzz, with what looked like Jessie’s arm linked with his.  Many hours of searching later, we were able to track down the full poster – albeit in very low resolution – which proved that Jessie had in fact been pictured as Buzz’s date (causing much fangirl happiness), and all the toys were decked out in their finest for the event.  We eventually found a rough video of it online that was better than nothing; however, after years of waiting, the Oscars finally posted the video on their YouTube, showing the characters’ full presentation of the Best Animated Short Film award that night:

Gotta love Jessie saving the day!  This is without a doubt my favorite Oscars moment, for all three Toy Story films.  So much attention to detail was put into this quick little scene.

Woody and Buzz announcing the nominees for Best Animated Short Film at the 2000 Oscars
The Potatoheads find their seat in the audience*
Storyboards for the Potatoheads’ scene*

Randy Newman was again recognized with a nomination for Best Original Song, for “When She Loved Me.”  Sarah MacLachlan performed Jessie’s song live:

Nancy and John Lasseter at the 2000 Oscars, with Woody, Jessie and Buzz*

I can’t let the 2000 Oscars go by without mentioning the toys’ outfits.  Look at those sparkles, and Buzz’s bow tie!  Even the Potatoheads and Bullseye sported their versions of formal attire.  Which begs the question, are the Roundup Gang toys able to change their clothes?  It’s not a deep or meaningful question to ponder, but a mystery nonetheless.  I especially like Jessie’s cowgirl bling – and I’ll share more about it in next week’s throwback post.

Toy Story 3 at the 83rd Academy Awards – February 27, 2011


The 2011 Oscars were a big deal for Toy Story 3 – I remember the night well.  Not only was the film nominated for Best Animated Feature, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound Editing, and – as with the earlier two films – Randy Newman nominated for Best Original Song for “We Belong Together;” for the first time since Beauty and the Beast in 1992, an animated movie – Toy Story 3 – was nominated for Best Picture.

Leading up to the Academy Awards, Pixar released a series of “for your consideration” posters, comparing Toy Story 3 to other classic and critically-acclaimed films in the hopes of gaining recognition and support in the Best Picture category:

But when Oscar night rolled around, sadly we didn’t get to see any toys presenting or attending.  We did, however, get to see Randy Newman perform “We Belong Together” live, with a montage of film scenes playing behind him:

This time – after three previous nominations for Toy Story music, and a Pixar win for “If I Didn’t Have You” from Monsters, Inc. – Newman was the recipient of Best Original Song:

And although Best Picture wasn’t to be, Toy Story 3 did win Best Animated Feature, which was accepted by director Lee Unkrich:

I think that both of these acceptance speeches are fantastic, and I was thrilled to see Toy Story 3 get the recognition (I believe) it deserved.

I hope that we will see Toy Story 4 earn its share of accolades, in keeping with the praise received by the three preceding films.  And I also really hope that Pixar will consider animating the toys for the 2018 Oscars, should the cast be “invited” to attend – how great would it be to see Buzz and Jessie, and Woody and Bo Peep, dressed up for a date night out?  I guess we’ll have to wait and see; but in my opinion, and from what we’ve heard so far, Toy Story 4 appears to have plenty of potential to live up to the standards set by the others.  Honestly, though, I’m not even worried about the 2018 Oscars right now.  I just want to find out more about Toy Story 4 first!

All images and videos are © Disney•Pixar and the Academy Awards.  Several of the Toy Story 2 photos were excerpted from The Toy Story Films: An Animated Journey by Charles Solomon. 



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