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'Toy Story 3' Director Rendered Speechless by Best Picture Designation

Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich Tweeted Thursday morning, "Wow. Time Magazine's Richard Corliss just named Toy Story 3 the best film of 2010. I'm speechless." Corliss wrote, "Why are Pixar films so often at or near the top of annual best-picture lists? Because, we say with some exasperation, nobody these days makes better movies...But the movie's most important lesson is for Hollywood: Watch this and see how it's done."

Corliss is the nimblest prose stylist in film criticism, the only one capable, say, of writing a book about Lolita in the form of a pastiche of Nabokov's Pale Fire. His immense prestige gives a big nudge to Disney's bigtime campaign to make Toy Story 3 the first animated best picture Oscar winner in history.

But even if it does win, the directors of animated films have a way to go in attaining top Hollywood status. Unkrich's name does not leap to people's lips the way Christopher Nolan or David Fincher do. The online version of Time's story misspelled Unkrich's name as "Les Unkrich." The print magazine spelled it right, and it was corrected online, but it's evidence of how obscure even the most eminent animation directors are. Unkrich has won three Annie Awards for directing (for Finding Nemo, shared with Andrew Stanton; Monsters, Inc., shared with Pete Docter and David Silverman; and Toy Story 2, shared with Pixar top dog John Lasseter and Ash Brannon). When animation finally wins respect in the best picture category, the next step will be to give these guys their due in best director.