One round down, five to go in the Pixar performance bracket. As I figured, most of the first-round matchups weren’t terribly surprising. (We’ll get to the one that did genuinely shock me soon enough.)
We’re now down to 32 seeds, which means 4 matchups per day over the next 4 days. Who would I choose to send forward? Read on.
(1) Tom Hanks, Toy Story vs. (8) Bob Peterson, Up: There will reach a point in this bracket where Tom Hanks’ masterful performance as Sheriff Woody reaches serious competition. And while I adore Up (the whole movie, not just the first 10 minutes), this is not serious competition. Hanks wins.
(12) Gael Garcia Bernal, Coco vs. (4) Jason Lee, The Incredibles: Hey, whatever happened to Jason Lee? Remember when it felt like he was in tons of films and TV shows around the same time? Weird. Anyway, he gets my vote here. Gotta have a solid villain performance represent here.
(6) Willem Dafoe, Finding Nemo vs. (3) Richard Kind, Inside Out: Bing Bong all the way on this one. Dafoe is typically great, but there’s less to his performance (by nature of the script).
(10) Tony Hale, Toy Story 4 vs. (2) Ed Asner, Up: This one’s hard. As I mentioned above, I adore Up. And I think Carl Fredricksen is one of the most fascinating and complex characters in Pixar history. …But I also think a lot of that is in the animation and in what Carl doesn’t say. Asner’s great as Carl, but a lot of the depth of his character is in how his facial features are animated, and in the character’s mostly silent backstory. So I give this to Hale.
(1) Albert Brooks, Finding Nemo vs. (8) Brad Bird, The Incredibles: A number-one seed is a number-one seed for a reason. Brooks is top-notch and he gets my vote here easily.
(5) Jamie Foxx, Soul vs. (4) Billy Crystal, Monsters, Inc.: So, in the last round, Jamie Foxx beat out Janeane Garofalo’s performance as Colette in Ratatouille…by a vote. That’s no exaggeration. One vote! Leave aside the typical reminder that your votes matter in every instance. I was not expecting the race to be so close, if only because Soul is so fresh in people’s memories. And it’s all for naught, because Billy Crystal deserves this one. He gets my vote here.
(6) Phyllis Smith, Inside Out vs. (3) Holly Hunter, The Incredibles: A toughie, for sure, but in part because Hunter’s performance ages extremely well, and in part because I kind of want a Broadcast News face-off later on in this bracket, I vote for Mrs. Parr.
(10) Steve Buscemi, Monsters, Inc. vs. (2) Tim Allen, Toy Story: So, I’m voting for Buscemi, and I’ll tell you why. While I’m noting here that we’re just voting on one film per performance, and it’s the original Toy Story for Allen, watching the sequels diminishes his work a bit. I’m not sure if it’s that the material doesn’t quite fit him as well after the original, or if the voice direction was different. But Buzz feels like a different, less impactful character after the original. I don’t quite know how to explain it, but Buscemi’s work in the original Monsters, Inc. just has the right aura of nastiness that ages well.
(1) Amy Poehler, Inside Out vs. (9) Kristen Schaal, Toy Story 3: I kind of wanted a Poehler/Fey matchup here, but alas. Poehler gets my vote handily. (She would’ve gotten my vote handily against Fey, as well, to be clear. But the SNL tie-in would’ve been ideal.)
(5) Ned Beatty, Toy Story 3 vs. (4) Patton Oswalt, Ratatouille: I was hoping that Ian Holm would’ve made a better showing in the first round, which he decidedly did not. Either way, I would’ve voted for the Ratatouille actor in this matchup, so Oswalt it is.
(6) Ellen DeGeneres, Finding Nemo vs. (3) Don Rickles, Toy Story: As with other matchups, we’re separating the art from the artist. (This is my way of saying that I’m not voting against Tim Allen for his politics, and I’m leaving out my personal opinion of Ellen here too.) I will give this to DeGeneres — as much as I like Rickles as Mr. Potato Head, I think there’s a bit more depth in DeGeneres’ work as Dory.
(7) Anthony Gonzalez, Coco vs. (2) John Goodman, Monsters, Inc.: Anthony Gonzalez is really quite good as Miguel. He is! And he’s sadly going down here against the excellent John Goodman.
(1) Joan Cusack, Toy Story 2 vs. (8) Kelsey Grammer, Toy Story 2: Cusack all the way here.
(5) Michael Keaton, Toy Story 3 vs. (4) Craig T. Nelson, The Incredibles: I know one’s a supporting character and one’s a lead, but I gotta go with Keaton here. I so enjoy him playing comic characters, and Ken is no exception.
(6) Samuel L. Jackson, The Incredibles vs. (3) Paul Newman, Cars: I’m not a big fan of the Cars franchise. But a) Paul Newman is a legend, moreso than Samuel L., and b) let’s be honest: Samuel L. Jackson gets a very thin character to play in The Incredibles. Outside of the “Where is my super suit?” line, he’s pretty much ill-served and wasted. Newman it is.
(7) Wallace Shawn, Toy Story vs. (2) Peter O’Toole, Ratatouille: O’Toole, in a true no-doubter.