Paramount/Nickelodeon’s adventurous chameleon “Rango” rode off with top pic honors and “Kung Fu Panda 2” helmer Jennifer Yuh Nelson became the first solo woman to win the Annie for director Saturday at the 39th annual Annie Awards. On the television side, “The Simpsons” picked up its 13th Annie for best television production.
Thesp-comic Patton Oswalt hosted the lively event at Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA.
In addition to best pic, “Rango” nabbed trophies for character design (Mark “Crash” McCreery), writing (John Logan, Gore Verbinski and James Byrkit) and editing (Craig Wood). It also nabbed the first ever members’ favorite award, which is the only kudo voted on by the entire membership of the Intl. Animated Film Society.
ASIFA-Hollywood, the org that hands out the Annies, went through a number of changes last year, including new voting rules and the addition of new categories, which resulted in a very mixed field of winners. Awards were spread out among a variety of projects and studios. Nickelodeon, which partnered with Paramount on “Rango” and DreamWorks Animation on TV’s “Kung Fu Panda — Secrets of the Masters” and “Penguins of Madagascar,” led with eight, followed by Disney with six and DWA with five. As for individual projects, Disney’s TV special “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” followed “Rango” with four nods.
Nelson’s nod for director makes her the first woman to win that trophy since 2001 when Vicky Jenson shared the award with Andrew Adamson for “Shrek.”
Nelson said she hopes her win will inspire other female animation directors. “I have many students come up to me and tell me how this encourages them.” To aspiring women animation helmers she said: “Keep trying, do what you love and the work will speak for itself.”
Nelson said she’s developing another project for DreamWorks, but details are under wraps.
In another Annie rarity, the feature directing nod did not go to the helmer of the best pic winner. Nelson beat out “Rango’s” Verbinski for the trophy. The last time this happened was 2007 when DWA’s “Over the Hedge” helmers Tim Johnson and Karey Kirkpatrick won over best pic winner “Cars,” directed by Pixar’s John Lasseter. Prior to that was in 1997. Ron Clements and John Musker took home the directing trophy for Disney’s “Hercules,” but lost best pic to Turner Feature Animation’s “Cats Don’t Dance.”
What does all this mean for the animated Oscar race? The Annies haven’t been much of an Oscar bellwether of late. While Annie winners went on to win the Oscar in 2001 through 2005, they’ve only matched since in 2007 and 2009, missing last year when the Annie went to DWA’s “How to Train Your Dragon” and the Oscar went to Disney/Pixar’s “Toy Story 3.”
Of the other Oscar nominees, DWA’s “Puss in Boots” and GKid’s “A Cat in Paris” and “Chico & Rita” were shut out at the Annies.
Amblin’s “The Adventures of Tintin” and “Kung Fu Panda 2” scored two Annies each. “Tintin” won for composer John Williams’ score and animated effects in an animated production (Kevin Romond). In addition to Nelson’s win for helming, “Panda 2” picked up a nod for production design (Raymond Zilbach).
Other feature winners were “Rio” for character animation (Jeff Gabor), Disney’s “Winnie the Pooh” for storyboarding (Jeremy Spears) and Bill Nighy’s voice perf as Grandsanta in Sony/Aardman’s “Arthur Christmas.”
In the television categories, Gracie Films’ long-running “The Simpsons” won its 13th Annie for best general audience television production, it’s first win in the category since 2003. Homer and family had a lock on that category from 1992 until 2003, winning 12 in a row. “The Simpsons” took home three Annies in total, also winning for directing (Matthew Nastuk) and writing (Carolyn Omine, “Treehouse of Horror XXII”).
“Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” scored its four Annies for character animation (Tony Smeed), character design (Bill Schwab), music (Grace Potter and Michael Giacchino) and storyboarding (Brian Kesinger).
Special honors went to Walt Peregoy, Borge Ring and Ronald Searle (Winsor McCay Award); Art Leonardi (June Foray Award); and Depth Analysis (Special Achievement).
Following is a complete list of winners:
Best Animated Feature
“Rango” – Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Production
Best Animated Special Production
“Kung Fu Panda – Secrets of the Masters” – Nickeloden and DreamWorks Animation
Best Animated Short Subject
“Adam and Dog” – Minkyu Lee
Best Animated Television Commercial
Twinings “Sea” – Psyop
Best General Audience Animated TV Production
“The Simpsons” – Gracie Films
Best Animated Television Production – Preschool
“Disney Jake and the Never Land Pirates” – Disney Television Animation
Best Animated Television Production – Children
“The Amazing World of Gumball” – Cartoon Network in Association with Dandelion Studios, Boulder Media & Studio Soi
Best Animated Videogame
“Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet “- Shadow Planet Prods., Gagne/Fuelcell
Animated Effects in an Animated Production
Kevin Romond — “Tintin,” Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall
Animated Effects in a Live-Action Production
Florent Andorra — “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” Industrial Light & Magic
Character Animation in a Television Production
Tony Smeed — “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice”
Character Animation in a Feature Production
Jeff Gabor — “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
Character Animation in a Live-Action Production
Eric Reynolds — “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” 20th Century Fox
Character Design in a Television Production
Bill Schwab –“Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice ”
Character Design in a Feature Production
Mark “Crash” McCreery — “Rango”
Directing in a Television Production
Matthew Nastuk — “The Simpsons”
Directing in a Feature Production
Jennifer Yuh Nelson — “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Music in a Television Production
Grace Potter, Michael Giacchino– “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice”
Music in a Feature Production
John Williams — “Tintin”
Production Design in a Television Production
Mark Bodnar, Chris Tsirgiotis, Sue Mondt and Daniel Elson — “Secret Mountain Fort Awesome,” Cartoon Network Studios
Production Design in a Feature Production
Raymond Zilbach — “Kung Fu Panda 2”
Storyboarding in a Television Production
Brian Kesinger — “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice”
Storyboarding in a Feature Production
Jeremy Spears — “Winnie the Pooh,” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Voice Acting in a Television Production
Jeff Bennett as Kowalski — “Penguins of Madagascar,” Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation
Voice Acting in a Feature Production
Bill Nighy as Grandsanta — “Arthur Christmas,” Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
Writing in a Television Production
Carolyn Omine –“The Simpsons -Treehouse of Horror XXII”
Writing in a Feature Production
John Logan, Gore Verbinski and James Byrkit — “Rango”
Editing in Television Production
Ted Machold, Jeff Adams, Doug Tiano, Bob Tomlin — “Penguins of Madagascar,” Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation
Editing in a Feature Production
Craig Wood, A.C.E. — “Rango”
Winsor McCay Award – Walt Peregoy, Borge Ring, Ronald Searle
June Foray – Art Leonardi
Special Achievement – Depth Analysis