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‘Kung Fu Panda 2’ leads Annie noms

Awards will be held on Saturday, Feb. 4, at UCLA's Royce Hall

Kung Fu Panda 2” leads a mixed field in the 39th annual Annie Awards nominations. The DreamWorks Animation sequel picked up 12 bids Monday, including best feature, followed closely by stablemate “Puss in Boots” and Paramount/Nickelodeon’s “Rango,” with nine each.

The nominating committees of ASIFA-Hollywood opened up the best pic field for 10 nominees, including Steven Spielberg’s motion-capture toon “The Adventures of Tintin.” It is only the second motion-caption film to be nominated for a best-pic Annie. Columbia’s “Monster House” was nommed in 2006 (It lost to “Cars”).

In the past, the Annies have left out pics like “Polar Express” and “Beowulf” because “those films are photo-realistic, not character driven,” said Frank Gladstone, ASIFA-Hollywood prexy. “They fall into a limbo area for us. … If a producer does a film like that, they should submit, because our views are getting wider.

“There is a line in the sand, but it’s a movable one,” he added.

In addition to “Panda 2,” “Puss,” “Rango” and “Tintin,” best pic nominees are: “A Cat in Paris” (Fromage), “Arthur Christmas” (Sony Pictures Animation/Aardman Animations), “Wrinkles” (Perro Verde Films), “Cars 2” (Pixar), “Chico & Rita” (Chico & Rita Distrib’n) and “Rio” (Blue Sky Studios).

All three of the dominant nominees for Annies are on the Oscar short list of best animated features, which bolsters those films’ profiles in a crucial timeframe. In fact, all 10 of the Annie nominees are included in the Academy’s list of 18 finalists for the Oscars.

The landscape of Annie nominations looks very different from last year, when DreamWorks dominated with 15 wins out of 39 nominations. Last year, Disney left ASIFA-Hollywood over concerns about the org’s voting practices. After a change in leadership and several meetings with studio execs, ASIFA-Hollywood underwent significant changes, including updating membership qualifications, establishing a representative voice for every animation studio and creative technique, building an advisory board of animation professionals and revising the voting structure for the Annies. Since these and other changes have been made, Disney has returned in force.

On the TV side, Disney’s “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” leads the pack with 11 bids, including best general audience animated TV production. Other noms in that category went to FX’s “Archer,” Warner Bros. Animtion’s “Green Lantern: The Animated Series” and “MAD,” Hallmark’s “Hoops & YoYo Ruin Christmas,” “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” from Starburns Industries, Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and Gracie Films’ “The Simpsons.”

Special honors will go to veteran animators Walt Peregoy, Borge Ring and Robert Searle, who will receive the Winsor McCay Award for career contributions to the art of animation. The June Foray Award for significant and benevolent impact in animation will be given to Art Leonardi and a special achievement Annie will be given to Depth Analysis.

The Annie Awards will be held Saturday, Feb. 4, at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

Click here for the full list of nominations

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