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‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ Wins Annie Award for Animated Feature

It’s the Year of the dragon, as DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon 2” took home the top prize at the  at the 42nd annual Annie Awards honoring the best in film and TV/broadcast animation for 2014. “Dragon” helmer Dean DeBlois nabbed directing honors at Saturday’s kudos, presented by ASIFA-Hollywood at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus.

How to Train Your Dragon 2” also picked up awards for feature character design (Fabio Lignini), storyboarding (Truong “Tron” Son Mai) and music (John Power, Jonsi).

While DWA has bragging rights for the best animated feature, Disney came away with the most awards, nine for Disney Television Animation alone and 11 overall. Disney Television Animation’s “Gravity Falls” picked up the nod for television/broadcast production for a children’s audience. “Disney Mickey Mouse” picked up the most individual Annies including directing in a TV/broadcast production (Aaron Springer), writing (Darrick Bachman), editorial (Illya Owens), music (Christopher Willis) and voice acting (Bill Farmer.) “Wander Over Yonder” added to the haul with awards in character animation (Justin Nichols) and character design (Benjamin Balistreri). And Narina Skolova added a win for her production design work on “Mickey Shorts.”

“Big Hero 6” added an award to the Disney’s total for animated effects in an animated production that went to Michael Kaschalk, Peter DeMund, David Hutchins, Henrik Falt, John Kosnik. And “Feast,” the animated short that precedes “Big Hero 6” on the bigscreen, won the prize for short film.

Ben Kingsley’s turn as the villain Snatcher in Focus Features/Laika’s “The Boxtrolls” won him the Annie for voice acting in a feature production. “The Boxtrolls” also picked up an award for feature production design for Paul Lasaine, Tom McClure and August Hall.

The digital realm was heard from with Amazon Studios’ kids show “Tumble Leaf” winning the prize for TV/broadcast production for a preschool children.

Warner Bros.’ popular “The Lego Movie” didn’t go home empty-handed. Filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller picked up an Annie for feature writing.

The win for “Dragon” gives the film some momentum going into the Academy Awards on Feb. 22, where it will compete with “Big Hero 6,” “The Boxtrolls,” and GKids’ “Song of the Sea” and “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.” It has already won the Golden Globe, so the Annie win is the second major kudo it’s picked up during awards season.

The Annies have had a history of matching the Academy Award winners every other year since 2006. Before that, the Annies matched all the Oscar winners since the Academy added the category in 2001 until “Happy Feet” beat Annie winner “Cars” for the Acad’s trophy. Last year’s winner, Disney’s “Frozen,” went on to win the Oscar.

Other winners include “The Simpsons” for general audience animated TV/broadcast production; Aardman Animations’ “Flight of the Stories” for commercial; “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” for special production; Mike Mennillo for character animation in a videogame for “Assassin’s Creed Unity”; “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” for character animation in a live-action production (Weta Digital’s Daniel Barrett, Paul Story, Eteuati Terna, Alessandro Bonora and Dejan Morncilovic); “The Edge of Tomorrow” for animated effects in a live-action production (Sony Pictures Imageworks’ Steve Avoujageli, Atsushi Ikarashi, Pawel Grochola, Paul Waggoner and Victor Lundqvist); Reel FX’s “The Book of Life” for character design in an animated feature (Paul Sullivan, Sandra Equihua and Jorge R. Guiterrez); Ubisoft’s “Valiant Hearts: The Great War” for best videogame; Nickelodeon’s “Legend of Korra, Venom of the Red Lotus” for TV/broadcast production storyboarding (Joaquim Dos Santos); and Jayson Rayner’s “My Big Brother” for best student film.

Also honored at this years Annies ceremony were producers Didier Brunner and Lee Mendelson, and animator Don Lusk with the Winsor McCay lifetime achievement award; author and critic Charles Solomon with the June Foray benevolent service award; DreamWorks Animation’s Apollo Software with the Ub Iwerks techinical achievement award; and the Walt Disney Family Museum with the Annie Special Achievement award.

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