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Oscars 2022: Best Animated Feature Nominees Share Their Reactions: ‘It’s Surreal’

The filmmakers behind ‘Encanto,’ ‘Luca,’ ‘The Mitchells vs. the Machines’ and ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ weigh in

This morning, nominees in the Best Animated Feature Oscar got some very good news. And they responded, well, animatedly. TheWrap got on the phone to congratulate the filmmaking teams from “Encanto,” “Luca,” “The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” and “Raya and the Last Dragon,” and to hear about what this magical morning was like for them. (We didn’t get to chat with the filmmakers behind “Flee,” which was also nominated in the Foreign Language and Documentary categories.) As “Luca” director Enrico Casarosa said, “It’s so hard to make these movies, especially through the pandemic, so I think everyone in the 2021 batch of movies should be so proud.” Yes they should.

“Encanto”

Encanto Music
Disney

While “Encanto” is set in sunny Colombia, director Byron Howard found himself in a far chillier predicament this morning. “They announce these things so early and I am not good at getting up in the morning. I am freezing. My house was built in the 1950s and has no insolation. So I am buried under blankets. We have this text thread that’s been going between myself, Jared, Clark [Spencer], Charise [Castro-Smith] and Lin. Everyone is texting back and forth. I can’t focus because my glasses aren’t on. I can’t see the texts and am responding hopefully appropriately,” Howard said. “It’s an unreal moment.”

Director Jared Bush made sure to single-out Germaine Franco and her score for “Encanto,” which was nominated. (She’s the first female composer to ever handle the music for a Disney animated feature.) “I’m so excited for Germaine Franco,” Bush said. “We are so in love with her score. The fact that she is getting recognized is so fantastic. She’s a musician on the soundtrack as well.” Bush also single out “Dos Oruguitas,” which was nominated for Best Original Song. “It’s such a gorgeous song,” Bush said. Bush described the entire experience as being “bonkers craziness.” “I’m trying to make sure I’m responding to the right person,” Bush said.   

“Encanto” is available right now on Disney+.

“Luca”

Pixar

While Pixar movies are usually a shoo-in for the Best Animated Feature category, the lovely coming-of-age story “Luca” has an additional Oscar pedigree thanks to director Enrico Casarosa, whose short film “La Luna” was nominated ten years ago. “Oh it’s no big deal. Hanging out with the Steven Spielbergs of the world. Everything is normal,” Casarosa joked about the nomination. “You have to kind of pinch yourself. It’s quite a wake-up. It’s surreal. I needed five minutes for it to hit me. I went for a walk at dawn and was really basking in a lot of pride. It’s great to be recognized by your peers. I’m so honored.”

For producer Andrea Warren, it caused her to think back to her childhood. “I grew up in South Dakota as a kid and I always watched the Oscars. South Dakota and my experience felt so far away from Hollywood and actually making movies. It’s like, wow it’s actually happened,” Warren said. “That’s pretty cool.” Of course, Warren also notes, life doesn’t pause to appreciate the moment exactly. “I have to laugh because my kid’s like ‘will you make me some hot cocoa,’ and I got a notification about my dentist appointment later today,” Warren said. “It’s this funny mix of this amazing thing happening and life being as normal as it ever was.” Hopefully they both get a little time to bask.

“Luca” is available right now on Disney+.

“The Mitchells vs. the Machines”

the-mitchells-vs-the-machines-image
Netflix

“The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” produced by Sony Pictures Animation and released by Netflix, centers on an oddball family who wind up saving the world from a robot apocalypse. And you get the sense that the filmmaking team, including director Mike Rianda and producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, are an equally oddball family (their apocalypse-averting skills, however, are TBD). “We’re feeling great,” Lord said. “I always end up waking one minute before, almost on accident.” Miller interjected: “Especially for having had no coffee today.” Rianda sounded particularly taken aback by the adulation. “We were just trying to make something that we love and something that would be somebody’s favorite movie,” Rianda said. “It’s really wonderful that all of the amazing artists on the movie are getting recognized. The movie wouldn’t be what it is if you took one artist away. I’m proud of all of those guys.”

Rianda said he is in his hometown and he watched the nomination announcement with his whole family. “They’re all losing their minds,” Rianda said. “We’re super happy for the crew and Mike,” Lord said. “It’s a message in a bottle that floats out there. The fact that it hits shore and people found it and liked it, is really gratifying.” True to the story of the movie, their smartphones were blowing up. “A lot of emojis,” Miller said. “A lot of emojis happening this morning, which is good.” Rianda then shared an anecdote truly out of “The Mitchells vs. the Machines:” “I am also in my parent’s house in the sticks. Not only have I lost my phone but a gentleman just ran into the one cell tower. There is no internet. My dad was like, ‘I know John, who does the internet.’ And then my dad goes, ‘This is better than the time those woodpeckers were putting acorns in the telephone lines. Then we couldn’t even use the phone!’ That gives you a sense of where I’m at.” (Guess what character Rianda’s father inspired in the movie?) “Based on a true story, ‘The Mitchells vs. the Machines,’” Miller said. With any luck John the internet guy has gotten things sorted.

“The Mitchells vs. the Machines” is available on Netflix right now.

“Raya and the Last Dragon”

raya-and-the-last-dragon
Photo: Disney

Equally excited are the filmmakers behind the epic Disney fantasy “Raya and the Last Dragon” – director Don Hall is a longtime Disney veteran who won the Animated Feature Oscar for “Big Hero 6,” whereas his fellow director Carlos López Estrada is making his animated feature debut. “Feeling lots of things,” López Estrada said. “It’s a really unnatural, amazing, weird thing to be feeling.” Hall and López Estrada took over the project after a period of development that saw several filmmakers attempt to wrangle “Raya and the Last Dragon,” with its mythical overtones and deeply personal relationships. Not only were Hall and López Estrada the ones to complete the project, but they really took it all the way. “It is a wonderful feeling. We were building on the backs of those that came before us. We all share in this. And obviously with ‘Encanto’ too, we’re all friends and we all work on each others’ films and support each other,” Hall said. “It’s a big day for Disney Animation.”

“I’m equally happy for ‘Encanto,’” Lopez Estrada said. Not that either filmmaker has much time to enjoy the accolades; Hall’s next Disney animated feature “Strange World” is out this fall. “We’re in it, which is a very fun, electric part of the process,” Hall said. “Interestingly, a lot of times when you come off a movie like ‘Raya’ you have a long gestation period and by the time you’re in that zone again, it could be three or four years. It’s a familiar feeling.” López Estrada’s next project for Disney Animation was right behind Don’s. “What’s actually happening is we’re waiting for Don to be done so that we can start using all of the crew, because he’s taking up the entire studio. It’s like, We just have to wait until they’re done with ‘Strange World,’” López Estrada said. Then, jokingly: “We’re excited but very frustrated.” So chances are we’ll be seeing both Hall and López Estrada back at the Oscars very soon.

“Raya and the Last Dragon” is available on Disney+ right now.