By Benn Myers, commentary editor
Looking over the list of best picture nominees for the Oscar, I’ve had a difficult time picking a favorite. “The King’s Speech?” An undeniably good film by any standard. “Inception?” Maybe not the deepest film, but completely spectacular. “Winters Bone” was a perfect picture of desolation. The movies on the best picture list aren’t my favorite movies, but they’re all undeniably good pieces of art.
But as I was skimming over them for about the 10th time, something clicked into place for me: “Toy Story 3” should win Best Picture.
And I’m sure that nostalgia plays a big role in this. It’s like the “Toy Story” saga was engineered to hit my age group hardest. I watched the first film when I was still mastering the art of walking; the finale (about the isolation a boy’s toys feel when he goes to college) was released right as I was starting to write college applications and calculating where I wanted to spend the next four years. I’ve seen my fair share of sad movies, but none of them have hit me like “Toy Story.” That movie is simultaneously beautiful, charming, funny and depressing. No movie or piece of art has ever tugged at my heartstrings so adeptly, and I’m not alone. I don’t know a single person who walked out of that movie who didn’t have a similar comment to share.
Was “Winters Bone” depressing? Yes, but I never really cared about the mountain-bound meth-heads like I cared about Woody or Buzz.
Was “The Kings Speech” inspiring and moving? Yes, but not as moving as Buzz and Woody’s struggle to find a new home.
Was “Inception” innovative and original in its screenwriting and scenery? Not any more than the film which made me spend an hour and a half caring more about eight-inch plastic people than any other event or problem in the world.
Film is an art form, viable and powerful because of its innate capability to inspire and provoke empathy. This is the characteristic of “good” art: it makes us feel close to the characters while making us care about world and people who will never and could never exist. In this regard, “Toy Story 3” ranks as some of the finest art I have ever personally experienced. It’s a special film that can make you cry when a cowboy doll’s struggle for acceptance can touch you in a way that all the apocalyptic news reports in the world can’t.
Maybe I’m blinded by nostalgia or not considering the more refined tastes of many of the more film-literate among us. In any case, I’m sure of one thing: I loved “Toy Story 3,” and I think it’s about time they added a little golden statue to their cast.