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‘Bear Story’ and ‘Ex Machina’ Makes Animation History at the Oscars

It was a night of firsts at the Oscars, at least in the animated shorts category.

Gabriel Osorio’s CG film Bear Story won the award for best animated short. The film claims a number of firsts, including the first-ever win for a Chilean film at the Academy Awards, as well as the first time a film from Latin America has won the animated short category.

Bear Story’s tale of a bear separated from his wife and son is a political allegory about the way that families were torn apart under Chile’s notorious dictator Augusto Pinochet. Osorio acknowledged the film’s subtext during his acceptance speech when he dedicated the film to his grandfather and “all the people like him who had suffered in exile. We really hope that this must never happen again.”

Ex Machina won the Academy Award for visual effects. The award was shared by Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington, and Sara Bennett. Bennettt is a co-founder of Milk VFX, which provided the film’s vfx along with Double Negative, Utopia, and Web FX. She is only the third woman ever nominated in the category, and the second woman to win the Oscar for visual effects in the 86-year-history of the category, which was earlier labelled the special effects category. (Note: This article has been updated. It incorrectly stated she was the first woman, but that honor belongs to Suzanne Benson who won in 1987 for Aliens.)

The last woman who was nominated in the visual effects category was Pamela Easley for her work on the 1993 movie Cliffhanger.


The award for animated feature was won by Pixar for Pete Docter’s Inside Out. It marks the eighth time in nine years that a Walt Disney Company film has won the animated feature Academy Award.

Congratulations to all the winners!

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  • Elsi Pote

    Congrats to Bear Story, keep it up Chile!

  • Since Ronnie del Carmen got an Oscar for Inside Out but (off the top of my mind) Steve Purcell didn’t back when Brave won, am I the only one curious about how the co-director thing works? Did they recently change it, or do they only give them out in leap years?

    • matt

      im not sure but according to imdb, brave had 2 directors, mark andrews and brenda chapman and one co director steve purcell. I guess the academy didnt want to give out three oscars for one film

  • ea

    Pixar won BAF. Woo…hoo. No one saw that coming. What a coincidence that Woody and Buzz Lightyear presented the award.

    • Honest_Miss

      To be fair, Inside Out deserves all the love and appreciation its getting. It’s really not fair to knock a movie simply because it came from a prominent studio, anymore than its fair to knock one from a small studio (for different reasons, of course). Just let the work speak for itself.

      • Exilov

        Let’s be real, though, even if Inside Out was mediocre and its competition strong… it still would have won because it’s Pixar/Disney.

        • Honest_Miss

          This just seems like such a disservice to the artists who worked hard on that film.

        • Inkan1969

          That was not true for “Cars 2” and “Monsters University”. Both didn’t even get noms.

          • Exilov

            Exactly. They didn’t get nominated.

            Since Ratatouille, whenever a Pixar film gets NOMINATED it wins.

          • Inkan1969

            Wouldn’t that imply that Pixar films that don’t measure up don’t get nominated then?

          • Exilov

            In some cases. Then you have Brave which beat out films that most people consider superior (Wreck-it-Ralph, Paranorman, etc.). Nominations usually aren’t the issue since, if I’m correct, animators and people in that branch vote for them. The issue is with the rest of the Academy who don’t give a crap about the winners, and will vote for whatever has the Pixar or Disney logo on it.

          • Inkan1969

            One of those movies being a Disney feature (WiR). If there’s some Disney conspiracy to lock the award, WiR would’ve been more likely to win than “Brave”.

      • J Kay

        Yeah, to be honest Inside Out was a fantastic film from an animation and technical point of view; the creativity that went into designing the different elements of the girl’s mind was fantastic… and yet the characters and story fell completely flat.

        Partly I guess that’s because Pixar shot themselves in the foot by making the main characters specific emotions, but those characters were ridiculously one dimensional. It was incredibly difficult to sympathise with Sadness, whose stubbornness came across as thoughtless at best and selfish and uncaring at worst – but EVEN HARDER to feel for Joy, who seemed to have assumed a position of leadership whilst lacking an iota of common sense or empathy.

        That elephant Bingbong, which, not gonna lie, completely creeped me out at first, ended up having the most emotional resonance, and they didn’t even explain why he was stealing memories at the start or anything.

        The ending, the “Big Revelation” that the audience gets from Joy is that Sadness is, in fact, a “valid” emotion. Sort of disappointing, really. OBVIOUSLY sadness is an important emotion, literally the ONLY person who didn’t get that is Joy. Will the sequels be Joy iteratively relinquishing her narcissism as she learns that Disgust, Fear and Anger also have their place? Okay admittedly I have no idea why Disgust is there anyway, but that’s not really my point.

        I feel like this realisation (re: the validity of emotions besides happiness) should have been a lot earlier on. I’d never advise following a formula, but in this case I’d say that a lot of the charm of Pixar movies comes from the alliance of unlikely friends, who solve their issues pretty early on and then work together to fix a larger and more far-reaching problem. In Inside-Out, Joy and Sadness are basically hindering each other the whole entire way right up until the very end.

        So I’m not knocking Inside Out because it’s from Pixar, I’m knocking it because its story didn’t feel like a live and pulsing thing, pushing the action forward and higher. Lacking the broad sweep of narrative flair that we’d usually expect, it seems to be locked into a myopic staring competition with itself; the story gets lost in the concept and the execution – and so it drags.

        That being said, it was a very impressive film for a variety of reasons. I loved the interactions between Riley and her parents, those small parts were extremely heartfelt, and clever as well. The particle effects on the emotions was pretty cool, and the different areas inside Riley’s brain were excellent. Also, I’m just a lowly animation student from the back of the animation boondocks haha. Who am I to question what Pixar decrees is right? The artists there have years of experience and prodigious skill and I’m just some kid with a secondhand tablet.

  • Chicken McPhee

    Anybody else found this downright RUDE?
    “We can create any world we want, we can play anything we want.”
    Sound familiar?

  • Two Pixar characters announcing the oscar for another Pixar movie felt really gross to me. Also super disappointing that Pixar got another oscar against more daring films. I loved Inside Out but an Oscar has the chance to somewhat direct the flow of money/attention in Hollywood, and it looks like all that will just keep going to Disney!

    • Exilov

      I think it’s beyond clear now that no matter what the nominated Pixar film will always win the Oscar because it’s a Pixar film.

      If Pixar doesn’t have a film nominated, but Disney does, then the honor will go to that film.

      It’s been like that since Ratatouille won. The only reason Rango, very deservedly, won in 2011 was there was no Pixar or Disney film up for the Oscar.

      Honestly at this point I think it might be a good idea for other animation studios to save their money and not invest too much into pushing their film at the Oscars – a feat that seems to be growing more futile year in and year out.

      It pains me to say that too, since I really, REALLY want to see How to Train Your Dragon 3 (assuming it ends the trilogy on a strong note) win an Oscar.

      Unfortunately, I don’t think it has a chance regardless of its potential quality. The Oscar will probably end up going to either Toy Story 4 or Gigantic.

      • HTTYDfan

        They should move HTTYD 3 to another year.

        • Exilov

          They already did. It was initially slated for 2017, but then got pushed back to 2018 shortly after Toy Story 4 was announced to be released in 2017 around the same time as HTTYD3.

          Then, months later, Pixar decides to push back Toy Story 4 to 2018…. again only about two WEEKS before the release date for HTTYD3.

          It gives the impression that Pixar is hell-bent on having their beloved franchise one-up HTTYD again like it did in 2010.

          • HTTYDfan

            Pixar must view HTTYD 3 as a threat to them. I mean correct me if I’m wrong but is there any non-Disney/Pixar animated franchise that is more popular then HTTYD at the moment? They know that their movie will do better but they still move TS4 so close to HTTYD 3 just to make sure that it doesn’t overtake them at the box office. Why is Pixar so aggressively competitive all of a sudden? I’m afraid that HTTYD 3 probably won’t win an Oscar due to how bias the Academy is towards Disney/Pixar movies, unless if some miracle happens, but it’s not the end of the world. In fact, HTTYD 3’s plot might make it more memorable then TS4, and when people discuss movies do any of them even bring up if that movie won an Oscar or not? I’m starting to think that Dreamworks is more humble then both Disney and Pixar combined.

          • Exilov

            Oh I agree. In fact, I remember hearing that they got all mad when Happy Feet beat Cars (the last time a nominated Pixar film lost the Oscar) and they made sure they went out of their way to emphasize how their films were “100% animated” (since Happy Feet used live-action people near the end). How this applied to Wall-E, however, with its own use of live action actors is baffling.

            I’m honestly just sick of the rabid praise Pixar (and to some extent Disney) seems to get these days – especially when besides “Inside Out” their last few films haven’t been that well-recieved.

            Also the double-standard annoys me. When DreamWorks has a sequel coming out people complain and moan about ‘unoriginality.’ When Pixar’s slate of future films are almost exclusively sequels and prequels (Finding Dory, Cars 3, Toy Story 4, Incredibles 2) everyone acts so excited.

            I can just hope HTTYD3 ups the ante and takes us to where no American animated film before has – epic in scope, and emotionally devastating without feeling manipulative (imho the last half hour of Toy Story 3). It might finally show American audiences that animation can be more than purely, kiddie pap.

            Then again, I remember people complaining about how ‘dark’ HTTYD2 was, so who knows. I just really hope Dean holds nothing back and delivers a classic ending.

            Heck, maybe the internet ought to make HTTYD the replacement meme for having won no Oscars now that Leo’s meme is no longer relevant ha-ha.

          • HTTYDfan

            I agree with you, except about HTTYD being a no-Oscar meme. I don’t treat this like a joke.

          • Exilov

            I don’t either… but it sure seemed to help get the push for Leo. Who knows?

    • Darren Hood

      Disney has always had the voters by the heartstrings, because they are essentially the best of the best even when compared to other years. For example let’s take a look at 1942. The year the groundbreaking and visually stunning “Superman” lost out to a cutsey Pluto cartoon “Lend a Paw” that while a charming and endearing cartoon was just business as usual for the Disney Studios. Are you telling me, that Superman the first ever cartoon to push the animation envelope with it’s visuals and fluidity of motion, was less of an effort than Disney’s factory roll out?

  • Strong Enough

    Disney/pixar characters announcing pixar as the winners. hilarious

  • Inkan1969

    But “Prologue” wasn’t really a short. It was a clip from his feature length “Lysistrata” project.