Chagrin Falls native takes home Oscar for ‘Coco’

CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio -- One of Northeast Ohio’s own took center stage on Hollywood’s biggest night.

“We share this with our immensely talented cast and crew as well as the executive teams at Disney and Pixar."

Director Lee Unkrich, of Chagrin Falls, accepted the Oscar Sunday night for Best Animated Feature Film for Disney/Pixar’s, "Coco."

The critically acclaimed film is among Pixar’s highest grossest films worldwide, which features the diversity of Mexican culture.

The filmmaker’s passion for the arts started in the hallways of Chagrin Falls high school.

Kristen Wood was a member of his graduating Class of 1985.

"He was pretty quiet and kind of kept to himself ... very artistic.  In fact, he got in our senior class superlative, he was awarded the most artistic award," says Wood.

Chagrin Falls alumni director Brian McKenna pointed out subliminal Chagrin Falls messages in the animated film "Toy Story 3," another Oscar-winning move for the filmmaker in 2011.

He may have predicted his fate in his senior yearbook picture, where the caption underneath, read: "C U at the Academy Awards."

McKenna says, "And he has now been there three times, and winning twice which is an unbelievable feat."

While he now calls Los Angeles home, he often comes back to where it all started.

Last December, Lee hosted a screening of Coco at the Museum of Contemporary Art in University Circle.

It’s an event now taking on an even greater meaning, with Coco now worthy of that little gold statue.

MOCA Deputy Director Megan Reich said, "I think a lot of people think of Pixar movies as animations for children, but they really, this movie in particular, is for everyone. So he really did something special with Coco."

The Oscar-winning filmmaker will be bringing the Oscar to his hometown in a couple weeks on March 14 to deliver the keynote address at the Chagrin Valley Chamber of Commerce annual awards ceremony.

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