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Soul
Soul Poster.jpeg
Official release poster
Directed by Pete Docter
Produced by Dana Murray
Written by
  • Pete Docter
  • Mike Jones
  • Kemp Powers
Starring
Music by
Cinematography
  • Matt Aspbury
  • Ian Megibben
Editing by Kevin Nolting
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release date(s) October 11, 2020 (2020-10-11) (BFI)
December 25, 2020 (2020-12-25) (United States)
Running time 101 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $150 million+
Money made $134.8 million

Soul is a 2020 American computer-animated fantasy comedy-drama film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed by Pete Docter and co-directed by Kemp Powers, the film stars the voices of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton, Rachel House, Alice Braga, Richard Ayoade, Phylicia Rashad, Donnell Rawlings, Questlove, and Angela Bassett. The story follows a middle school music teacher named Joe Gardner, who seeks to reunite his soul and his body after they are accidentally separated, just before his big break as a jazz musician. Soul is the first Pixar film to feature an African-American protagonist.

Docter began developing the film in 2016, working from his contemplations on the origins of human personalities and the concept of determinism. He co-wrote the screenplay with Mike Jones and Powers. The film's producers consulted various jazz musicians including Herbie Hancock and Terri Lyne Carrington, and animated its musical sequences using the sessions of musician Jon Batiste as reference. Apart from Batiste's original jazz compositions, musicians Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross also composed the film's score.

Soul premiered at the London Film Festival on October 11, 2020. It was set to be theatrically released on November 20, 2020, but it was canceled in the United States in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the film was released to stream on Disney+ on December 25, 2020, but was still theatrically released in countries without the streaming service. It became the first feature-length film from Pixar not to be given a wide theatrical release and the first to be billed as a Disney+ Original. The film received highly positive reviews from critics, with praise for its animation, story, voice acting, and musical score. At the 78th Golden Globe Awards, the film won Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Score. It was also nominated in three categories, including for Best Animated Feature, at the 93rd Academy Awards and 74th British Academy Film Awards.

Plot

Joe Gardner, a middle school music teacher from New York City, dreams of playing jazz, even though his mother Libba insists he makes his current job full time, fearing for his financial security. One day, Joe learns of an opening in the band of jazz legend Dorothea Williams and auditions at a music club. Impressed with Joe's piano playing, Dorothea agrees for him to perform later that night. As Joe heads off, his excitement distracts him, and he falls down a manhole.

Joe finds himself as a soul heading into the "Great Beyond". Unwilling to die, he tries to escape but ends up in the "Great Before", where counselors—all named Jerry—prepare unborn souls for life with the help of mentor souls. Each soul has a badge in which, once filled out with traits, grants passage to Earth. Mistaken for a mentor, Joe is assigned to train 22, a cynical soul who has always lived in the Great Before and desires avoiding Earth. Discovering that Joe is in a coma at a hospital, 22 agrees for Joe to find her "spark" to complete her badge and then take it so that he can return home. After Joe fails to find 22 a passion, they head for "the zone", where souls enter when their passions create a euphoric trance, and where obsessed lost souls arrive. They come across Moonwind, the captain of a galleon bearing a troupe of hippie mystics, and they help Joe by having him sense his body until he discovers his surroundings.

Joe hops back to Earth but accidentally carries 22, resulting in 22 entering his body and Joe entering Mr. Mittens, a therapy cat. They find Moonwind (at his day-job as a sign twirler), who agrees to meet them later at the music club to restore Joe to his body. In the meantime, 22 settles into Joe's body and enjoys small moments while interacting with Joe's peers. She holds poignant conversations with Connie, a student who planned to quit the band but changes her mind after performing a trombone solo; Dez, who wanted to become a veterinarian but now enjoys being a barber; and Libba, who accepts Joe's passion for music. Meanwhile, Terry, an obsessive accountant who counts souls headed to the Great Beyond, discovers that Joe is missing, and heads to Earth in order to send him to the Great Beyond and restore the count.

As the day ends, Joe and 22 rendezvous with Moonwind, but after Joe tells 22 that her experiences were not purposes, 22 flees with Joe tailing behind to find her spark. Terry notices them running into a subway station, and brings both back to the Great Before. 22 realizes her badge is filled out, yet Joe insists it was because of his traits, and that she didn't actually get her spark. 22 angrily tosses the badge at him and disappears into the zone. A Jerry informs Joe that instead of a purpose, a spark means that a soul is ready to live, but he refuses to believe this and uses the badge to return to Earth.

Joe has a successful performance with Dorothea but is not as satisfied as he desired, and realizes that his dream wasn't different from where he started. After noticing objects 22 collected in his body, and recalling the moments that they both enjoyed in life, Joe figures out these experiences were what gave 22 her spark. Deciding to return 22 the badge, Joe plays the piano to enter the zone and looks for 22, only to discover that she has become a lost soul. After chasing her down, Joe uses a maple seed 22 had kept to transport them to a memory of their time on Earth, and Joe convinces her that she is ready to live, returning her to normal. With her badge back, Joe guides 22 out of the Great Before, and she finally enters Earth.

As he prepares to head into the Great Beyond, Joe is stopped by a Jerry, who offers him another chance at life for inspiring 22 to live. Joe returns to his body on Earth and starts the next day committed to enjoying his entire life.

Voice cast

  • Jamie Foxx as Joe Gardner, a passionate jazz pianist and music teacher whose soul gets separated from his body after an open manhole accident.
  • Ramone Hamilton as young Joe Gardner
  • Tina Fey as 22, a soul with a dim view of life, trapped in the Great Before.
  • Graham Norton as Moonwind, a spiritual sign twirler.
  • Rachel House as Terry, a soul counter in the Great Beyond.
  • Alice Braga, Richard Ayoade, Wes Studi, Fortune Feimster and Zenobia Shroff as the five soul counselors in the Great Before who are all named Jerry.
  • Phylicia Rashad as Libba Gardner, Joe's mother, who works as a seamstress.
  • Donnell Rawlings as Dez, Joe's barber.
  • Questlove as Lamont "Curley" Baker, a drummer in Dorothea Williams' band and a former student of Joe's.
  • Angela Bassett as Dorothea Williams, a respected jazz musician and saxophone player.

Additionally, Daveed Diggs plays Paul, Joe's neighborhood frenemy; Cora Champommier plays Connie, one of Joe's middle school band students; Margo Hall and Rhodessa Jones play Melba and Lulu, Libba's co-workers; June Squibb plays Gerel, a soul who meets Joe before going to the Great Beyond; and Esther Chae plays Miho, a bassist in Williams' band. Cody Chesnutt provides his vocals, from his song "Parting Ways", as a street singer with a guitar.

Sakina Jaffrey, Calum Grant, Laura Mooney, Peggy Flood, Ochuwa Oghie, Jeannie Tirado, and Cathy Cavadini provide the voices of Doctor, Hedge Fund Manager, Therapy Cat Lady, Marge, Dancerstar, Principal Arroyo, and Dreamerwind.

Accolades

Award wins and nominations for Soul
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Academy Awards April 25, 2021 Best Animated Feature Pete Docter and Dana Murray Pending
Best Original Score Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste Pending
Best Sound Ren Klyce, Coya Elliot and David Parker Pending
AACTA International Awards March 5, 2021 Best Direction Pete Docter Nominated
Alliance of Women Film Journalists January 4, 2021 Best Animated Feature Film Soul Won
Best Animated Female Tina Fey Won
Annie Awards April 16, 2021 Best Animated Feature Soul Pending
Best FX for Feature Tolga Göktekin, Carl Kaphan, Hiroaki Narita, Enrique Vila, Kylie Wijsmuller Pending
Best Character Animation - Feature Michal Makarewicz Pending
Best Character Design - Feature Daniel López Muñoz Pending
Best Direction - Feature Pete Docter and Kemp Powers Pending
Best Music - Feature Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste Pending
Best Production Design - Feature Steve Pilcher, Albert Lozano, Paul Abadilla and Bryn Imagire Pending
Best Storyboarding - Feature Trevor Jimenez Pending
Best Writing - Feature Pete Docter, Mike Jones and Kemp Powers Pending
Best Editorial - Feature Kevin Nolting, Gregory Amundson, Robert Grahamjones and Amera Rizk Pending
Austin Film Critics Association Awards March 19, 2021 Best Animated Film Soul Nominated
Best Score Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste Won
Black Reel Awards April 11, 2021 Outstanding Film Dana Murray Pending
Outstanding Screenplay, Adapted or Original Pete Docter, Mike Jones, and Kemp Powers Pending
Outstanding Score Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Jon Batiste Pending
Outstanding Voice Performance Angela Bassett Pending
Jamie Foxx Pending
Phylicia Rashad Pending
British Academy Film Awards April 11, 2021 Best Animated Film Pete Docter and Dana Murray Pending
Best Original Music Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross Pending
Best Sound Coya Elliott, Ren Klyce and David Parker Pending
Chicago Film Critics Association December 21, 2020 Best Animated Film Pete Docter and Dana Murray Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Pete Docter, Mike Jones and Kemp Powers Nominated
Best Original Score Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste Won
Critics' Choice Movie Awards March 7, 2021 Best Score Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste Won
Critics' Choice Super Awards January 10, 2021 Best Animated Movie Soul Won
Best Voice Actor in an Animated Movie Jamie Foxx Won
Best Voice Actress in an Animated Movie Tina Fey Won
Florida Film Critics Circle December 21, 2020 Best Original Screenplay Pete Docter, Mike Jones and Kemp Powers Nominated
Best Score Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste Won
Best Animated Film Soul Won
Golden Globe Awards February 28, 2021 Best Animated Feature Film Soul Won
Best Original Score Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste Won
Hollywood Music in Media Awards January 27, 2021 Best Original Score - Animated Film Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste Won
Outstanding Music Supervision - Film Tom MacDougall Nominated
Best Soundtrack Album Soul: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Nominated
Houston Film Critics Society Awards January 18, 2021 Best Picture Soul Nominated
Best Animated Feature Film Soul Won
Best Original Score Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross Won
International Film Music Critics Association Awards February 18, 2021 Best Original Score for an Animated Film Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste Nominated
London Critics Circle Film Awards February 7, 2021 Technical Achievement Award Pete Docter Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards December 20, 2020 Best Animated Film Soul Runner-up
Best Music Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross Won
NAACP Image Awards March 27, 2021 Outstanding Animated Motion Picture Soul Won
Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture Pete Docter, Kemp Powers & Mike Jones Nominated
Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture Soul Cast Nominated
Outstanding Soundtrack/Compilation Album Soul: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Won
Outstanding Jazz Album – Instrumental Music From and Inspired By Soul Won
Outstanding Character Voice Performance – Motion Picture Ahmir-Khalib Thompson Nominated
Angela Bassett Nominated
Jamie Foxx Won
Phylicia Rashad Nominated
National Board of Review January 26, 2021 Best Animated Film Pete Docter Won
Top 10 Films Soul Won
Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards March 13, 2021 Favorite Animated Movie Won
Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie Tina Fey Nominated
Jamie Foxx Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Awards January 25, 2021 Best Picture Soul Nominated
Best Animated Film Won
Best Original Score Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross Won
San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle January 18, 2021 Best Animated Feature Soul Won
Best Original Score Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross Won
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards January 11, 2021 Best Animated Film Soul Nominated
Satellite Awards February 15, 2021 Best Animated or Mixed Media Film Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Pete Docter, Mike Jones and Kemp Powers Nominated
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Awards January 17, 2021 Best Animated Film Soul Won
Best Music Score Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste Won
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards February 7, 2021 Best Animated Film Soul Runner-up
Ursa Major Awards March 31, 2021 Best Motion Picture Pending
Visual Effects Society Awards April 6, 2021 Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature Pete Docter, Dana Murray, Michael Fong, Bill Watral Pending
Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Jonathan Hoffman, Jonathan Page, Peter Tieryas, Ron Zorman (for Terry) Pending
Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Hosuk Chang, Sungyeon Joh, Peter Roe, Frank Tai (for You Seminar) Pending
Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a CG Project Matt Aspbury, Ian Megibben Pending
Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Animated Feature Alexis Angelidis, Keith Daniel Klohn, Aimei Kutt, Melissa Tseng Pending
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards February 8, 2021 Best Animated Feature Soul Won
Best Score Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste Won
Best Voice Performance Jamie Foxx Won
Tina Fey Nominated
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