Pixar's Soul had a rough road to release. It was first supposed to come out in theaters last spring, before being pushed to Thanksgiving. Eventually it came out on Christmas Day, but only on Disney+. But while the road for Soul to audiences was a long one, the movie is now reaping the rewards. Soul is getting some of he best critical reviews as well as strongest audience response of any recent Pixar movie. Some are wondering if the movie could have significant Oscar aspirations outside the Animated Feature category, and the film has taken a step in that direction having now secured nine NAACP Image Award nominations.
Jamie Foxx shared a post from his daughter, actress Corinne Foxx, to his Instagram Stories where she celebrated Black History Month getting "off to a bang" following Soul's nine nominations. The nominations include Outstanding Ensemble Cast, Outstanding Animated Motion Picture, Outstanding Writing In A Motion Picture, Original Soundtrack, Outstanding Jazz Album, and four of the five nomination slots for Outstanding Character Voice Over Performance, with nominations for Jamie Foxx, Angela Bassett, Phylicia Rashad, and Questlove. Only Chris Rock's performance in The Witches kept it from being a clean sweep. Foxx then took to Instagram himself to congratulate his co-stars.
First off, it's pretty awesome that the NAACP Image Awards have a separate category for voice over performances. Between traditional animation and the increased reliance on entirely CGI characters, there are a lot of acting performances that get completely overlooked without that option. I'd like to see more awards shows add that option.
The delay in Soul's release might have even been a good thing for the film's award prospects. While Soul almost certainly would have been considered a top-pier animated film, the fact is that the film's story, which celebrates not simply the little things in life, but the importance and value of life in general, was just the sort of story that people needed to hear at the end of 2020. It might not have resonated in quite the same way if it had come out on schedule.
Because many of the awards Soul was nominated for here don't exist at the Oscars, we certainly won't expect the movie to do quite as well there, but there are still some strong indications of future performance here. This morning we saw Soul nominated for Golden Globes for both Best Animated Film and Best Original Score. Soul has to be the front runner in the former category, and has a solid shot at the win in the latter as well.
One of the more interesting narratives coming out of this year's awards season might be on the writing side. Kemp Powers was nominated twice for the NAACP Image Award for writing, once for his work on Soul, and again for his screenplay for One Night in Miami, an adaptation of his own play. I can't find any evidence of a writer being nominated for the Oscar for both Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay in the same year, but such a thing is a possibility this year for Powers.
The 2021 NAACP Image Awards will be handed out March 27.