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‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ could break ‘WALL-E’ record as most Oscar-nominated animated film ever

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” is a meticulously crafted labor of love that’s putting critics and audiences alike under its spell. The stop-motion adaptation of the Wooden Boy’s tale has been praised for infusing its source material with wondrous visuals and dark political themes. At the time of this writing, “GDT’s Pinocchio” is globally the most-watched film on Netflix and could gain traction with awards voters in the coming weeks. The movie needs seven nods—Best Picture, Best Animated Feature, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Score, Best Song, and Best Sound—to surpass 2008 juggernaut “WALL-E’s” record for most nominations received by an animated film.

SEE Guy Davis and Curt Enderle (‘Pinocchio’ production designers): ‘It’s always outside the box’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

“GDT’s Pinocchio” would be both the fourth animated and first stop-motion feature to get a Best Picture nomination. While its prospects have admittedly dipped in recent weeks, the movie is still a viable player in what’s turning out to be a dynamic and unpredictable season. It’s also Netflix’s highest-rated 2022 contender on Rotten Tomatoes (97 versus “Blonde’s” 48, “Bardo’s” 58, “White Noise’s” 64, and “Glass Onion” and “All Quiet On the Western Front’s” 91).

There are at least two good reasons for the streamer to prioritize “Pinocchio” over “Glass Onion.” The first is of course Guillermo del Toro himself, whose “Shape of Water” got Best Picture and won him a Best Director trophy in 2018; one awards cycle ago, “Nightmare Alley” got into Best Picture despite being counted out by most pundits following lukewarm reviews. Finally, as a history-making pick, “Pinocchio” would have no trouble distinguishing itself in a field of ten. 

SEE Oscars: ‘Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio’ could lead stop-motion renaissance in Best Animated Feature

Even if a slot in the top category eludes the Wooden Boy, “Pinocchio” could still match “WALL-E’s” six nods (or “Toy Story 3” and “Up” with five) and become the first animated film recognized in Best Production Design. Anyone questioning its merit should immediately check out “Handcarved Cinema.” The behind-the-scenes special, which Netflix released alongside the movie, accessibly explores the complex and fascinating world of stop-motion animation. Voters would be remiss not to watch it before casting their ballot. Gold Derby’s combined odds for Best Production Design have it in 9th place. 

“GDT’s Pinocchio” recently shot into the Best Adapted Screenplay top 10. Voters may appreciate the film’s original use of the “Pinocchio” narrative with which most of us are familiar. By turning the tale into a WWII-era screed against fascism and literalizing Pleasure Island, where traditional iterations had mischievous boys turned into donkeys, as a center for ideological indoctrination, del Toro and his co-writers have added new layers to a well-trodden story.

Unsurprisingly, it’s the overwhelming favorite to win Best Animated Feature and become only the second stop-motion film to do so. “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” recently picked up a few precursor wins (NYFCC, NYFCO, and NBR), but “Pinocchio” still looks safe at the Oscars. The industry is unlikely to pass up the chance to award such a high-degree of craftsmanship from one of its most respected filmmakers.

SEE Scott Martin Gershin (‘Pinocchio’ sound designer): ‘I didn’t really know it was working until right before the mix’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

Alexandre Desplat is an academy darling and will likely receive his 12th nomination for scoring the movie’s (appropriately) wood-instrument-based original music. Even if “GDT’s Pinocchio” underperforms, it’s strongly positioned here. “Ciao Papa” is ranked fourth in Best Original Song. It was just  nominated for both a Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice Award. 

“GDT’s Pinocchio” is one of the ten films eligible for a Best Sound nomination and is ranked ninth by Gold Derby’s combined odds. However, despite earlier predictions of a potential bid for visual effects, the category’s just-announced shortlist did not include the film. Still, it’s seven-nomination ceiling positions it to potentially outdo “WALL-E’s” record-bearing haul. Even if it doesn’t, an Oscar for Best Animated Feature and a precedent-setting nomination for Best Production Design would be nothing to look down our long noses at.

PREDICT the 2023 Oscar nominees through January 24

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