Considering its whopping 39 nominations, it was no surprise that DreamWorks Animation dominated Saturday’s Annie Awards, winning in almost every category in which it was nommed, including top feature honors for “How to Train Your Dragon.”
Would the outcome have been different if Disney-Pixar hadn’t pulled out of ASIFA-Hollywood, the org that sponsors the annual kudos for the animation industry? We’ll never know. But the absence of Disney and Pixar was the elephant in the room as host Tom Kenny (voice of Nickelodeon’s “SpongeBob SquarePants”) joked about the event’s belt-tightening measures and new “sponsors” (“Cell Taco,” for one).
So far this awards season, “Toy Story 3” has won the Golden Globe for animated feature, a Producers Guild Award and numerous critics awards. It has amassed more that $1 billion worldwide at the box office. It did receive Annie noms for pic, helmer Lee Unkrich and writer Michael Arndt but was shut out by the DreamWorks Animation juggernaut.
But “Dragon” is coming off a winning weekend at the Visual Effects Society’s kudos, picking up the trophy for animation in an animated feature, animated character (Toothless) and effects animation in an animated feature.
Disney and Pixar didn’t come away empty-handed. Pixar’s 3D short “Day and Night” won for short subject (veteran broadcaster Tom Hatten accepted on behalf of the filmmakers), and Ryan Page picked up a trophy for character animation in a live-action production for his work in Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland.”
Also, Disney’s veteran animator Eric Goldberg was on hand as one of three recipients of the Winsor McCay Award for career contributions to the art of animation, along with “The Simpsons” and “Futurama” creator Matt Groening. Third honoree, Brad Bird, helmer of “The Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille,” was filming the live-action “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” butsent a video from the set that featured cameos from stars Tom Cruise and Simon Pegg.
DreamWorks Animation ended up with 15 Annie Awards, 10 for “How to Train Your Dragon” and five for its television production “Kung Fu Panda Holiday.”
In addition to best pic, “Dragon” picked up nods for helmers Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, animated effects, character animation, character design, music, production design, storyboarding, voice acting for Jay Baruchel and writing.
“Kung Fu Panda Holiday” was named the top TV production and racked up trophies for character animation, direction, production design and voice acting for James Hong.
Disney withdrew its support from ASIFA and the Annie Awards in August over the org’s judging practices. Its displeasure stemmed from the fact that ASIFA membership is open to anyone, not just industry professionals, much like Film Independent, whose paying members vote for the Spirit Awards.
ASIFA made some tweaks to its judging last year, limiting voting in individual achievement categories to animation pros, and has made significant changes this year so that non-pros aren’t able to vote in any category. Those changes didn’t satisfy Disney, which wanted an advisory committee made up of reps from each studio to recommend rule changes to the ASIFA board.
Following is a complete list of winners:
Feature: “How to Train Your Dragon” — DreamWorks Animation
Short subject: “Day & Night” — Pixar
Television commercial: “Children’s Medical Center” — DUCK Studios
Television production: “Kung Fu Panda Holiay” — DreamWorks Animation
Television production for children: “SpongeBob SquarePants” — Nickelodeon
Videogame: “Limbo” — Playdead
Animated effects in a feature: Brett Miller, “How to Train Your Dragon”
Character animation in a TV production: David Pate, “Kung Fu Panda Holiday”
Character animation in a feature: Gabe Hordos, “How to Train Your Dragon”
Character animation in a live-action production: Ryan Page, “Alice in Wonderland” — Disney
Character design in a TV production: Ernie Gilbert, “T.U.F.F. Puppy” — Nickelodeon
Character design in a feature: Nico Marlet, “How to Train Your Dragon”
Directing in a TV production: Tim Johnson, “Kung Fu Panda Holiday”
Directing in a feature: Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, “How to Train Your Dragon”
Music in a TV production: Jeremy Wakefield, Sage Guyton, Nick Carr and Tuck Tucker, “SpongeBob SquarePant”
Music in a feature: John Powell, “How to Train Your Dragon”
Production design in a TV production: “Richie Sacilioc, “Kung Fu Panda Holiday”
Production design in a feature: Pierre Olivier Vincent, “How to Train Your Dragon”
Storyboarding in a TV production: Fred Gonzales, “T.U.F.F. Puppy”
Storyboarding in a feature: Tom Owens, “How to Train Your Dragon”
Voice acting in a TV production: James Hong, “Kung Fu Panda Holiday”
Voice acting in a feature: Jay Baruchel, “How to Train Your Dragon”
Writing in a TV production: Geoff Johns, Matthew Beans, Zeb Wells, Hugh Sterbakov, Matthew Senreich, Breckin Meyer, Seth Green, Mike Fasolo, Douglas Goldstein, Tom Root, Dan Milano, Kevin Shinick & Hugh Davidson, “Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III,” Shadow Machine
Writing in a feature: William Davies, Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, “How to Train Your Dragon”
Winsor McCay Award: Brad Bird, Eric Goldberg, Matt Groening
June Foray Award: Ross Iwamoto
Ub Iwerks Award: Autodesk
Special Achievement: “Waking Sleeping Beauty”