Photo Recap: Disney’s Billion Dollar Babies Win Big at 2011 Academy Awards

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Nearly forty million viewers across the United States tuned in last night to see which of the past year’s films would be acknowledged with the most coveted award in the industry. Among the nominations were thirteen for Disney films across nine categories. When all was said and done and the pixie dust had settled, Disney walked away with four Oscars, split evenly among its 2010 billion dollar babies, Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3 and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.

With half the nominations for best original song going to Disney films (‘I See the Light’ from Tangled and ‘We Belong Together’ from Toy Story 3), it was a good bet that one of them would take home the Oscar and, sure enough, Randy Newman took the honor for his Toy Story 3 tune after his live performance along with a performance by Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi, accompanied by Alan Menken on piano.

During his acceptance speech, Newman joked regarding his ratio of nominations to wins, noting ‘my percentages aren’t great. I’ve been nominated 20 times and this is the 2nd time I won. At the Academy, at the lunch they have for the nominees, where they have like a Randy Newman chicken by this time…’

Backstage, Newman remained humbled and surprisingly candid as he addressed the press regarding his win and his career in general.

‘This is really very nice, you know.  I didn’t totally expect it.  You know, last year, I was nominated for a couple of songs from Princess and the Frog, but I knew it wouldn’t win. I knew the country thing wouldn’t win.  This time, I thought I might.  It didn’t help me prepare anything to say, but it was very nice, as it always is, when people want to give you something.’

Newman also confessed that he didn’t necessarily feel that the award-winning song was one of the best examples of his work, stating ‘this isn’t the most consequential thing I’ve ever done for a movie by a long shot. You know, I remember I thought the score of A Bug’s Life really helped. Toy Story 2 also. The Natural.’

This was Newman’s second Oscar win for the category of best original song, his first being for ‘If I Didn’t Have You’ from Disney/Pixar’s Monsters, Inc.

Alice in Wonderland‘s two awards were unsurprisingly for categories of the visual persuasion. The first of the two Oscars awarded went to production designer Robert Stromberg and set decorator Karen O’Hara for Best Direction. During his portion of the acceptance speech, Stromberg plussed the prized statuette by adding a Mad Hatter hat, scaled down to Oscar size, courtesy of his props department (you can see the hat applied to Stromberg’s awards in the photo gallery below).

The second of the two awards went to long-time Tim Burton collaborator Colleen Atwood for Achievement in Costume Design. This marked Atwood’s third Academy win, although she had previously been nominated several times, including for her work on other Burton films such as Sweeney Todd and Sleepy Hollow (all three of which also not-so-coincidentally starred Johnny Depp).

Arguably, however, the biggest award of the night that went to a Disney film was that for Best Animated Feature, which went to Disney/Pixar’s Lee Unkrich for Toy Story 3.

Backstage, at the urge of a member of the press, Unkrich expanded on his acceptance speech, explaining the importance of thanking his grandmother before all others.

Said Unkrich, ‘my grandma was always very supportive of me, and once she knew I wanted to make movies, she was always the first to say that she would see me.  She would say, I am going to live to see you get an Oscar, and unfortunately, that never happened, but she’s always been with me in my heart.  And there’s a moment in Toy Story 3 that’s very inspired by her. When I was making the first Toy Story which I edited, she got cancer, and I rushed home to see her because it was clear she was not going to be around long.  And there was a moment where I looked at her for the very last time, and I knew that that was the last time I was seeing my grandmother alive, and I took kind of a mental snapshot at that moment before I turned away and left.

‘And I always carry that with me now, and when we were making Toy Story 3, there’s a moment at the end of the film where Andy gets back in his car, and he kind of looks back at his toys one last time before he drives off to college, and I told this story to my animators, and Mike Arndt, my writer, everybody, and I would like to think in my heart that the moment is infused with just a deeper level of emotion because of that because I told that story.’

Unkrich also seemed optimistic about the prospects of an animated film earning Best Picture in the future: ‘I think the fact that two years running now we have had animated films that have made it and received Best Picture nominations show that the walls between live action and animation are becoming a bit more permeable.  I think we have a ways to go, but I think the fact that we made it into that category twice now, we have accomplished something.  And the fact that so many people around the world that even in the Academy have come up to me and said, you know, Toy Story 3 was my favorite film of the year, that just tells me that we are doing something right.  Hopefully, eventually people will just vote with their heart and if they truly think that a film moved them the most or excited them the most and it happens to be animated, that some day an animated film could win Best Picture.’

Below is our gallery of photos from last night’s awards ceremony, from red carpet arrivals to backstage with members of The Walt Disney Company family.

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Photos courtesy of and © A.M.P.A.S. and ABC respectively. All rights reserved.

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