LOS ANGELES — Guillermo del Toro won the third Oscar of his career and the first for Netflix in the animated feature category for “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” on Sunday.
The category has been dominated by firms produced by Walt Disney or Pixar for the past decade, with the exception of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” (“Spider-Man: A New Universe”).
“Animation is ready to take the next step. We are all ready for it. Help us keep animation in the conversation,” Del Toro, who had previously won Academy Awards for Best Directing and Picture for “The Shape of Water” in 2018.
“Pinocchio,” a frame-by-frame animated musical interpretation of the classic story of the puppet who longs to be a real boy, was considered the strongest contender in the category. He had previously won the Golden Globe and the top honor at the animation industry’s Annie Awards.
Other nominees for Best Animated Feature Film were “Turning Red” (“Red”), “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,” “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” and “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.” The sea beast” (“The sea monster”).
The English voice cast includes Ewan McGregor, Christoph Waltz, fellow Oscar nominee Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton.
“Pinocchio” received rave reviews for having an astonishingly beautiful production with a plot that tackled themes like love and death. At the opposite end of the 1940 Disney version, this “Pinocchio” also makes references to Catholicism, fascism and the horrors of war.
The movie wasn’t about the main character learning how to be the perfect kid, del Toro said.
“I think it’s a lesson that is urgent in the world,” he told reporters in the newsroom after winning. “We are saying that disobedience is not only necessary, it is a virtue.”
The director of Mexican origin said that animation is pure cinema, joining the animators who in recent years have combated the stigma that animated films are a genre only for children.
For Del Toro, animators should be treated as artists, not technicians. He pointed out that in “Pinocchio,” the animators appear in the credits even before the main voice actors.
“This is an art form that has held its own commercially and industrially on the kids’ table for a long time,” Del Toro said. “A win helps, but it’s about moving forward as a community to get it done.”
Co-director Mark Gustafson echoed the same message.
“It’s so great to know that this art form that we love so much, stop-motion (frame-by-frame animation), is very much alive and well,” Gustafson said.
Del Toro, who has established two film scholarships, says he is now committed to funding a stop motion class for students from Mexico at the Gobelins school of animation.
“The first duty of the agency is to do it really well… because you’re not doing it for yourself,” del Toro added. “You are doing it for the people who are coming after you and are looking for opportunities. If you don’t do that, you’re closing that door.”
When del Toro came to the United States in the 1990s, he was met with “a lot of overt and subtle racism.” He recalled “with great disgust” an interview his cinematographer, Oscar winner Guillermo Navarro, had with a talent agent.
The agent “said to him ‘why do I want a Mexican?’ I already have a gardener.”
While things have improved for people of color, there is still a very difficult glass ceiling to overcome.
“You have to keep pushing all the time. It does not end with a generation. It doesn’t end with one person,” Del Toro said. “But again, together we push that limit further and further and opportunities are created.”