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CalArts grad wins Oscar for "Frozen"

Director Chris Buck, a CalArts alumnus, wins for best animated film

Posted: March 2, 2014 7:07 p.m.
Updated: March 2, 2014 7:07 p.m.

California Institute of the Arts graduate Chris Buck, left, stands with Jennifer Lee, center, and Peter Del Vecho at a reception featuring the Oscar nominees on Friday in Beverly Hills. Buck and Lee are co-directors of the animated feature film "Frozen" and Del Vecho is the producer.

California Institute of the Arts graduate Chris Buck won an Academy Award for his work as the writer and director of Disney’s global hit “Frozen” in the category for best animated film on Sunday at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles.

Buck’s film was up against “The Croods,” which was also written and directed by a CalArts graduate, Chris Sanders.

The win for “Frozen” was — somewhat remarkably — Disney’s first win in the 14 years of the best animated feature category. (Pixar, which Disney owns, has regularly dominated.) With box-office that recently passed $1 billion globally, the film was sure to be the biggest hit to take home an Oscar on Sunday.

Perhaps atoning for past sins, Hollywood named the brutal, unshrinking historical drama “12 Years a Slave” best picture at the 86th annual Academy Awards.

Steve McQueen’s slavery odyssey, based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir, has been hailed as a landmark corrective to the movie industry’s long omission of slavery stories and years of whiter tales like 1940 best-picture winner “Gone With the Wind.”

McQueen dedicated the honor to those who suffered slavery and “the 21 million who still endure slavery today.”

“Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live,” said McQueen, who promptly bounced into the arms of his cast. “This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northup.”

A year after celebrating Ben Affleck’s “Argo” over Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this time opted for stark realism over more plainly entertaining candidates like the 3-D space marvel “Gravity” and the starry 1970s caper “American Hustle.”

Those two films came in as the leading nominee getters, and “Gravity” still triumphed as the night’s top award-winner. Cleaning up in technical categories, it earned seven Oscars including best director for Alfonso Cuaron. The Mexican filmmaker is the category’s first Latino winner.

The Oscars fittingly spread the awards around, feting the starved stars of the Texas AIDS drama “Dallas Buyers Club,” Matthew McConaughey (best actor) and Jared Leto (best supporting actor), and the Australian veteran Cate Blanchett for her fallen socialite in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” (best actress, her second Oscar).


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