“This film started as s love letter to jazz, but we had no idea how much jazz would teach us about life.” Docter said, accepting the award on stage. “We don’t get to control what happens, but like a jazz musician, we can turn what happens into something of value and beauty.”
The Academy Award for best animated feature was first presented in 2002, and since then a film from Pixar has now received this honor 11 times.
Docter, who was named Pixar’s chief creative officer in 2018, previously accepted Oscars in this category for Inside Out and best picture nominee Up. He earned additional nominations for the screenplays of Up, Inside Out, Wall-E and Toy Story; best animated feature for Monsters Inc.; and animated short for Mike’s New Car. Docter joined Pixar in 1990, the same year that he graduated from CalArts, and became one of the screenwriters on the original Toy Story (1995).
Murray had one prior Oscar nomination, for animated short Lou. Her earlier credits include serving as production manager on Docter’s Inside Out.
“It’s a very exciting time at Pixar,” Docter said in the press room, pointing to upcoming features Luca, from director Enrico Casarosa (Oscar nominee for 2021 animated short La Luna) and Turning Red, from helmer Domee She (Oscar winner for 2018 animated short Bao). “We have an amazing slew of new directors and different styles.”
In addition to Soul, Up and Inside Out, Pixar titles that earned Oscars for best animated feature include Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Brave, Coco, Toy Story 3 and Toy Story 4.
Soul, the story of Joe (voiced by Jamie Foxx), a middle school band teacher who dreams of becoming a jazz musician, was originally slated to open in theaters in June of 2020. Plans changed due to the pandemic, and it instead debuted last December on Disney+.