Oscar nominations for Best Picture

Why Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ deserves an Oscar nomination for best picture

THIS IS THE YEAR that Pixar, by getting inside our heads, should complete the hat trick.

The pioneering animation studio has twice landed a nomination in the Oscars’ best picture race: 2009’s “Up” (co-written by “Spotlight’s” Tom McCarthy) and 2010’s “Toy Story 3″ (co-written by “The Force Awakens” scripter Michael Arndt).

With “Inside Out, ” Pixar deserves to return to the biggest ring. The film that delves into the emotions of an 11-year-old girl is not only one of Pixar’s best ever; it’s also one of the year’s most universally liked movies.

The movie, which picked up a Golden Globe for best animated film last night, is a virtual certainty for an animated feature nomination when the Academy Award contenders are announced early Thursday. It has a good chance of becoming the odds-on favorite against, in all likelihood, festival darling “Anomalisa” and Globe-nominated “The Peanuts Movie, ” with several other contenders (including Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur”) jockeying to fill out the field.

Yet now that the Oscars have a sliding scale (from five minimum to 10 maximum) for the number of best picture contenders — and because the Academy has nominated at least eight films for the big prize in recent years — “Inside Out” certainly deserves to be in the running for the top honor.

A handful of films seem assured of a best picture slot, including “Spotlight, ” “Mad Max: Fury Road, ” “The Revenant” and “The Martian.” “The Big Short” will likely get love. And the Academy tends to recognize even Spielberg’s slightly lesser efforts, so we’ll add in “Bridge of Spies.”

At that point, “Inside Out” merits a nod — even as such films as “Sicario, ” “Carol, ” “Straight Outta Compton, ” “Room, ” “Trumbo, ” “Steve Jobs, ” “The Hateful Eight” and perhaps even “The Force Awakens” hope to squeeze in the door.

Animation is often slighted because frequently viewed as children’s fare and often quite funny — and we know how reluctantly the Academy recognizes comedies in the best picture race.

Yet “Inside Out” strikes universal themes with such depth, elegance and humanity that Academy voters should be able to see past such prejudice. Plus, Pete Docter‘s Oscar pedigree for both direction and story buoys the chances for a film that has been widely praised for its inventiveness, charm and visual panache.

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