Oscars 2020: Disney / Pixar’s ‘Soul’ nominated for Best Animated Feature Brings NYC to Life in Every Detail

NEW YORK – Disney / Pixar’s “Soul” was released with almost universal critical acclaim, and now it’s nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

“Soul” tells the story of Joe Gardner, voiced by Jamie Foxx, a group teacher whose soul separates from his body. He ends up in The Great Before, where souls get their personalities before they come to Earth, and embarks on a journey to show 22, a soul voiced by Tina Fey, which is great being a human.

The cast includes:

The movie is set in New York City and those behind the movie wanted to make sure they had the right details. Anyone who lives in Brooklyn, Queens or Manhattan’s West Village will find this familiar in this film that plays like an ode to the Big Apple and its people.

Joe Gardner, hosted by Foxx, is a music teacher who dreams of becoming a jazz musician. And while the character is fictional, it’s based on a very real retired professor.

“The movie starts in my classroom,” said Dr. Peter Archer.

RELATED: Meet the real New York music teacher who inspired Disney-Pixar’s ‘Soul’

Her classroom has been recreated by an army of artists and their supervisors, such as Paul Abadilla, who was the artistic director of the sets for “Soul”.

“If we’re doing our job really well, the public shouldn’t notice,” Abadilla said. “The audience has to focus on the characters, the main characters, in the scene.”

“We need some seriousness right now. We’ve been through so much. You know, we’ve been through so much in the last few years. And I think we need some seriousness. I think we need good,” Foxx said of his role. “I think we need a film that seeks the good in people. This film is about helping someone, about helping someone see the world in a different way.”

The faces in the crowd are the center of Mara MacMahon’s attention, and dozens of background characters come from hundreds of detailed sketches and drawings.
“As the main character model in the movie, I work on the characters, which is a complement to the sets,” she said. “And what I loved is each of these individual person designs, you could tell there was a story behind it.”

They add realism, in the same way as small touches like graffiti.

“It just adds a sense of wealth and that sense of age and wear and tear to the city that made it even more believable,” said Abadilla.

RELATED: State of the Oscars: Diverse field highlights Oscar race

Among the great team that shaped this were those who grew up in the city, according to MacMahon.

“There were actually times in the movie where we were working on a particular shot or scene, and someone was like, ‘Hey, I’m actually from this neighborhood, and what I noticed when I was back home or that I visit my family usually see this,'” she said.

And all of this is intentional and vital, said Abadilla.
“That’s what the movie is about,” he said. “Celebrate the ordinary, the neglected things in life, right?”

That’s why you’ll find gum on the sidewalk in “Soul”.

Abadilla and MacMahon’s pride in their work and their determination to fairly represent the many different cultures found in New York City is evident in the end results.

So many people put their hearts and souls into making the smallest detail, and that has to be one of the reasons the film is nominated for an Oscar.

RELATED | “ Soul ” at the same time a celebration of black culture, a reflection on the meaning of life

Mark Your Calendars: April 25 is Oscar Sunday. Live coverage begins Sunday morning and continues throughout the day with special “On the Red Carpet” coverage leading up to the 93rd Academy Awards. After the final award ceremony, stick with “On The Red Carpet” for continued coverage. Make sure to follow @OnTheRedCarpet on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TIC Tac for all your Oscars news and information.

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