“Ratatouille” ranked tops with Hollywood’s animation community, taking home nine trophies – including best animated feature – Friday night at the 35th annual Annie Awards.
Pic can also boast wins for short subject for its DVD extra “Your Friend the Rat” and for the “Ratatouille” vidgame.
In a near-sweep, Pixar’s popular “anyone can cook” parable shut out every bigscreen contender except Sony Pictures Animation’s “Surf’s Up,” which scored two individual achievement awards, while Oscar nominee “Persepolis” went home empty-handed.
Before presenting one of “Ratatouille’s” many trophies, actor James Hong (Mr. Ping in DreamWorks’ forthcoming “Kung Fu Panda”) reminded the crowd that the Chinese New Year kicked off a day earlier. “This is the Year of the Rat, so that’s why you are winning all the awards,” he mused. “We are psychic, you know.”
The coup marks a major improvement over Pixar’s performance the year before, where “Cars” earned only two awards. Among “Ratatouille’s” more prominent individual honorees were Brad Bird (writing, directing), Michael Giacchino (music) and Ian Holm (who voiced the pint-sized chef, Skinner).
Television prizes were more evenly distributed, with top honors going to Aardman Animation’s short-lived “Creature Comforts America.” The stop-motion skein, based on the shop’s Oscar-winning short, was canceled by CBS after just three episodes due to low ratings.
Another stop-motion contender, Cartoon Network’s “Robot Chicken,” nabbed prizes for direction (acknowledging Seth Green’s work on the show’s “Star Wars” special) and its distinctive, deliberately crude character animation.
In the 2-D realm, Nickelodeon’s new skein “El Tigre” snagged character design and children’s programming honors. “Family Guy” earned a storyboarding trophy, while “The Simpsons,” always a favorite with the Annies, took writing and music honors.
Accepting the home entertainment award, “Futurama: Bender’s Big Score” producers Matt Groening and David X. Cohen carried WGA strike signs with them to the podium. “We were planning on barricading the stage, but in light of certain events, we’re prepared to grant (the Annies) a waiver for just one category,” Cohen joked.
Host Tom Kenny acknowledged the strike concerns of many in the crowd, quipping, “How are TV animation writers and salad plates alike? They’re both the first thing taken off the table.”
Without a proper guild to celebrate achievements in animation, practioners of the craft see the Annies as the nearest thing to an insider prize, awarded each year by the toon pros and enthusiasts of ASIFA-Hollywood. As such, the org’s love for “Ratatouille” is a strong barometer of Academy sentiment, especially considering that the Annies have predicted Oscar animated feature winners with near-perfect accuracy, flubbing differing only once since the category was created.
And the winners are…
“Ratatouille,” Pixar Animation Studios
Home Entertainment Production
“Futurama: Bender’s Big Score,” The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Television
Animated Short Subject
“Your Friend the Rat,” Pixar Animation Studios
Animated Television Commercial
“Power Shares Escape Average,” Acme Filmworks
Animated Television Production
“Creature Comforts America,” Aardman Animations
Animated Television Production for Children
“El Tigre,” Nickelodeon
Animated Video Game
“Ratatouille,” THQ, Inc.
Deborah Carlson, “Surf’s Up”
Animation Production Artist
John Clark, “Surf’s Up”
Character Animation in a Feature Production
Michal Makarewicz, “Ratatouille,” Pixar Animation Studios
Character Animation in a Television Production
Eric Towner, “Robot Chicken,” ShadowMachine
Character Design in an Animated Feature Production
Carter Goodrich, “Ratatouille,” Pixar Animation Studios
Character Design in an Animated Television Production
Jorge R. Gutierrez, “El Tigre” (“Fistful of Collars”)
Directing in an Animated Feature Production
Brad Bird, “Ratatouille”
Directing in an Animated Television Production
Seth Green, “Robot Chicken Star Wars”
Music in an Animated Feature Production
Michael Giacchino, “Ratatouille”
Music in an Animated Television Production
Alf Clausen & Michael Price, “The Simpsons” (“Yokel Chords”)
Production Design in an Animated Feature Production
Harley Jessup, “Ratatouille”
Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production
Ted Mathot, “Ratatouille,” Pixar Animation Studios
Storyboarding in an Animated Television Production
Steve Fonti, “Family Guy” (“No Chris Left Behind”)
Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production
Ian Holm, Voice of Skinner, “Ratatouille”
Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production
Eartha Kitt, Voice of Yzma, “The Emperor’s New School” (“Emperor’s New Musical”)
Writing in an Animated Feature Production
Brad Bird, “Ratatouille,” Pixar Animation Studios
Writing in an Animated Television Production
Ian Maxtone-Graham & Billy Kimball, “The Simpsons” (“24 Minutes”), Gracie Films