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Pixar's 'Soul' leads Oscar 2021 nominations in quiet year for genre

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Mar 15, 2021, 8:46 AM EDT

While not unexpected, it was a quiet showing for genre titles during this year's awards season. The nominees for the 2021 Oscars were announced this morning and Disney/Pixar's Soul snagged the most with three for Best Original Score (Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste), Achievement in Sound (Ren Klyce, Coya Elliott and David Parker), and Best Animated Feature.

"What a blessed morning!" Batiste wrote on Twitter. "We are incredibly grateful to be considered for the Academy Award for Best Original Score for @pixarsoul! My first Oscar nomination!! This was a profoundly rewarding creative collaboration filled with so much love, light and lineage. Go team go."

In the category for Best Animated Feature, Soul is competing against Onward (another Disney/Pixar release), Over the Moon, Wolfwalkers, and A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon. Now streaming on Apple TV+, Wolfwalkers (directed by Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart) is the only animated offering of the bunch not to adopt a 3D aesthetic.

“From everyone at GKIDS, we extend our sincere, heartfelt congratulations to Tomm, Ross and the entire Wolfwalkers team on a much-deserved Academy Award nomination!” executive producer and GKIDS president Dave Jesteadt said in a statement. “Over the past ten years, GKIDS has been honored to support Cartoon’s Saloon’s commitment to hand-drawn animation, starting with their first Oscar-nominated film, The Secret of Kells, to Song of the Sea, and The Breadwinner. We are proud to celebrate this morning’s acknowledgment of Wolfwalkers by the Academy, which reinforces Cartoon Saloon’s reputation for cinematic artistry and its status as one of the greatest animation studios in the world."

The roster of animated shorts include: "Burrow" (which preceded Soul); "Genius Loci"; "If Anything Happens I Love You"; "Opera"; and "Yes-People".

Credit: Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Not surprisingly, Christopher Nolan's time-inverting blockbuster, Tenet, secured a pair of technical nods for visual effects (Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley, and Scott Fisher) and production design (Nathan Crowley and Kathy Lucas). Disney's live-action Mulan also landed two nominations — one for costume design (Bina Daigeler) and one for VFX (Sean Faden, Anders Langlands, Seth Maury and Steve Ingram).

In fact, the entire visual effects category is dominated by genre projects. Love and Monsters (Matt Sloan, Genevieve Camilleri, Matt Everitt, and Brian Cox), The Midnight Sky (Matthew Kasmir, Christopher Lawrence, Max Solomon, and David Watkins), and The One and Only Ivan (Nick Davis, Greg Fisher, Ben Jones and Santiago Colomo Martinez) fill out the lineup.

Lastly, Matteo Garrone's film adaptation of Pinocchio was nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling (Mark Coulier, Dalia Colli, and Francesco Pegoretti) and Best Costume Design (Massimo Cantini Parrini).

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which kept North American movie theaters closed for most of 2020, the Academy eased up on some of its own eligibility rules this year. Prior to the health crisis, any cinematic hopeful was required to play in Los Angeles theaters for at least a week (this was usually the case for features that went directly to streaming). Since that became impossible in 2020, the Academy asked that any film hoping to participate in the Oscar race must be made available on the organization's members-only streaming platform within 60 days of its public bow.

Overall, David Fincher's Mank leads the pack with 10 nominations, while the Best Director category made history with a pair of nods for two female directors: Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) and Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman).

The 93rd Annual Academy Awards will take place Sunday, April 25 at 8 p.m. EST on ABC. The telecast is set to take place from two locations: Dolby Theatre (the usual venue) and L.A.'s Union Station. For the full list of nominees, click here.