Pixar’s ‘Soul’ and Nolan’s ‘Tenet’ bag the prestigious Oscars for the Best Animated Feature and Best Visual Effects respectively

The 93rd Academy Awards were held on 25 April 2021. Due to the pandemic and to promote social distancing, the award ceremony was aired from two locations in Los Angeles – The Dolby Theatre and Union Station. Pixar’s Soul bagged the Oscar for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score whereas Netflix’s If Anything Happens I Love You took home the Best Animated Short Film award.

Pixar’s Soul secured Academy Award after beating up the competition from its toughest nominations which included Onward, Over the Moon, A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, and Wolfwalkers.

Directed by Pete Doctor and Kemp Powers, Soul is a story about the afterlife of a Jazz musician who is on his mission to reunite his accidentally separated soul and body.

The movie created history even before winning the Academy Award. It is the first Pixar movie to feature a Black protagonist, voiced by Jamie Foxx, and the first movie with a Black co-director Kemp Powers. Due to the pandemic, last October Disney announced that it was opting to release Soul on its streaming service Disney+. Soul is the first full-length Pixar’s feature film that has been released on the streaming platform without being played in the movie theatres first.

Soul is Pete Docter’s third Academy Award after Inside Out and Up.

Netflix’s If Anything Happens I Love You took home the Best Animated Short Film award, after beating up the competition from Pixar’s Burrow, Genius Loci, Opera, and Yes-People.

If Anything Happens I Love You is a short film directed by McCormack and Michael Govier, and produced by Gilbert Films and Oh Good Productions. The story is about the journey of two grieving parents who experience an emotional void as they lost their beloved child to gun violence.

The streaming platform Netflix along with Disney won seven and five awards respectively creating a new record for streaming platforms. One of the reasons would be the pandemic induced lockdown which led to films being released on streaming platforms, making it the new normal. Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures Classics each won two Oscars. Apple TV+ also walked for Oscar nominations with its movies, Greyhound and Wolfwalkers, but did not convert those into wins.

Warner Bros’ Tenet took home the Oscar for Best Visual Effects beating down Love and Monster, The Midnight Sky, and The One and Only Ivan.

On winning the Best Visual Effects award, overall VFX supervisor Andrew Jackson said: “It is an absolute honour to be recognised for the work on Tenet. This award is for all the talented people who contributed to the effects in this film and that includes people not just from VFX and SFX but also from Stunts and the Art Department. I’d like to say a special thank you to all the teams who made the transition to working from home so easy and who continued to deliver such outstanding work on this remarkable film. This has been an extraordinary year and it is so good that the work has been recognised by the Academy, especially as this film was able to secure a rare theatrical release during these very difficult times.”

Jackson consulted with world-renowned physicist and Nobel prize winner Kip Thorne, whom the team had worked alongside previously for Nolan’s Interstellar, to ensure the film was grounded in scientific theory. This work enabled the team to shoot sequences that depicted the movement of objects through an inverted timeline – a solution that required an unprecedented level of pre-production VFX input to reduce the amount of VFX required in post-production.

Tenet is a science fiction action-thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan with VFX being provided by the DNEG team. The film stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, and Dimple Kapadia. The story is about a secret agent who is fighting for the survival of the entire World, who learns to manipulate the flow of time to prevent an attack from the future that threatens to destroy the world.

Tenet is the third Academy Award for DNEG VFX team lead Andrew Lockley, who earlier got Oscars for Nolan’s Interstellar and Inception, and second Oscar for the special-effects supervisor Scott Fisher, previously Fisher won for Interstellar. This is the fifth Academy Award win for DNEG in the last seven years, and its sixth win in total; the company has previously been recognised by the Academy for its work on First Man, Blade Runner 2049, Ex Machina, Interstellar and Inception. It follows the team’s BAFTA win for Tenet earlier this month.

Nolan is a director who involves a lot of SFX, VFX in his movies, but believes in producing as much as possible on camera. Nolan’s Tenet is heavily based on in-camera practical effects and Techniques, which were combined with digital work.

It took more than five years for Nolan to write the screenplay. Due to the pandemic, the release of the movie was delayed three times, and was finally released on 26 August 2020 and grossed $363 million worldwide.   

Chloe Zhao

Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland got three out of six awards, including the Best Picture. Chole Zhao won the Academy for Best Director for Nomadland, making her the first woman of colour and second Asian woman to win the Best Director award. McDormand nabbed the Best Actress award for her acting in the film Nomadland.

Nomadland won an Oscar after defeating the nominees of Best Picture including The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, Minari, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, and The Trial of the Chicago 7.

Antony Hopkins nabbed the Best Actor award for Sony Picture’s The Father which is the major upset among the fans who were expecting an award for Chadwick Boseman’s stunning performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The movie previously won Critics Choice Awards, SAG, and the Golden Globe Awards. Boseman died last year at the age of 43.

The full list of Oscar Award Winner 2021 are as follows:

Animated Feature Film
Pete Docter and Dana Murray

Animated Short Film
If Anything Happens I Love You
Will McCormack and Michael Govier

Visual Effects
Andrew Jackson, David Lee, Andrew Lockley and Scott Fisher

Best Picture
Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey and Chloé Zhao, Producers

Best Actor
Anthony Hopkins
The Father

Best Actress
Frances McDormand

Music (Original Song)
“Fight For You” from Judas and the Black Messiah
Music by H.E.R. and Dernst Emile II; Lyric by H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas

Music (Original Score)
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste

Film Editing
Sound of Metal
Mikkel E. G. Nielsen

Erik Messerschmidt

Production Design
Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: Jan Pascale

Actress in a Supporting Role
Yuh-Jung Youn

Documentary Feature
My Octopus Teacher
Pippa Ehrlich, James Reed and Craig Foster

Documentary Short Subject
Anthony Giacchino and Alice Doyard

Live-Action Short Film
Two Distant Strangers
Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe

Sound of Metal
Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés and Phillip Bladh

Chloé Zhao

Costume Design
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Ann Roth

Makeup and Hairstyling
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson

Actor in a Supporting Role
Daniel Kaluuya
Judas and the Black Messiah

International Feature Film
Another Round

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
The Father
Screenplay by Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller

Writing (Original Screenplay)
Promising Young Woman
Written by Emerald Fennell