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The Annie Winners!

The Annie Awards are often referred to as The Oscars of Animation. Presented each year by ASIFA-Hollywood (a division of the International Animated Film Society), the Annies celebrate the best in animated films and television as voted on by members of the animation industry from around the world. Needless to say, every year several anthropomorphic works are represented among the nominees — and sometimes even among the winners! On Saturday, February 2nd the Annie Awards for 2012 were presented at a gala ceremony at Royce Hall on the campus of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).  Unlike in previous years, this year’s ceremony didn’t really have a “host”: Each presenter basically introduced the next presenter. In the feature film category the night largely belonged to Disney Animation’s film Wreck It Ralph, which won for Music, Writing, Voice Acting (for Alan Tudyk as King Candy), Directing (Rich Moore), and of course Best Animated Feature. Disney/Pixar’s Brave was also represented, bringing home wins for Feature Editing and Feature Production Design. Dreamworks’ Rise of the Guardians also took home awards in two technical categories, Feature Storyboarding and Effects Animation. Over in the TV categories, the biggest winner of the night was Dreamworks’ Dragons: Riders of Berk. In addition to a win for Best TV Production for Children, Dragons won for Storyboarding, Music, and Directing. Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness won in a single category, TV Editing. In a surprise event, voice actor and animation legend June Foray (who started the Annie Awards herself back in 1973) was honored with the Texas Avery Animation Award — named after animation legend Tex Avery of course, and presented by REEL FX every year at the Dallas International Film Festival. You can find out more about the Annie Awards — and other activities for animation fans — at the ASIFA-Hollywood web site.

image c. 2012 Walt Disney Animation

The Annie Awards Nominations for 2012

ASIFA Hollywood (part of the International Animated Film Society) announced the nominations for the 2012 Annie Awards this morning. These are the Oscars for animation, folks: Chosen and awarded by members of the animation industry, from writers and artists to animators and directors. As usual, there are a great selection of furry-oriented works among the nominees. This year the nominees for Best Animated Feature include Brave, Frankenweenie, Hotel Transylvania, ParaNorman, Rise of the Guardians, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, The Rabbi’s Cat, and Wreck-It Ralph. Interestingly, two of the “furriest” films of 2012, Madagascar 3 and Ice Age 4, were not nominated for Best Feature — though they were both nominated in other categories. Wreck-It Ralph seems to be the film to beat this year — though both it and Brave were nominated for 10 awards each, Brave was not nominated for Best Directing while Wreck-It Ralph was. For the television categories, furry-notable shows receiving multiple nominations included Adventure Time, Dragons: Riders of Berk, Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, The Penguins of Madagascar, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, T.U.F.F. Puppy, and Doc McStuffins. Once again, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was absent from all categories. What is up with that? Anyway, the Annie Awards will be presented in a gala ceremony at UCLA’s Royce Hall on February 2nd of next year. The L.A. Times has a complete listing of the nominees, and tickets to the event can be purchased at the Annie Awards web site.

image c. 2012 Disney Animation

The 2011 Annie Awards

Your humble ed-otter was pleased and proud to attend the 2012 presentation of the Annie Awards for 2011, which took place at UCLA on Saturday the 4th. The Annie Awards are the “Oscars” of the animation industry, presented every year by the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA). It was a busy year for the awards, with many of the numerous categories having up to 10 nominees.  And of course, entries with an interest for furry fans were well-represented. The big winner of the evening was clearly Rango, with five wins including the big one, Best Animated Feature.  It also won for Writing, Character Design, and Editing, as well as the new Members’ Favorite category (the single category voted on by all ASIFA members, regardless of their professional or fan status). Interestingly, it was not a complete Rango sweep, as Rio won for Character Animation (by Jeff Gabor) while Kung Fu Panda 2 won for Production Design, and Best Director (Jennifer Yuh Nelson). Secrets of the Masters, the back-up short included on the Kung Fu Panda 2 DVD, also won for Best Animated Special Production (which honors OVA’s and direct-to-DVD projects). Disney’s 2D Winnie the Pooh also racked up one win, for Feature Film Storyboards by Jeremy Spears.  The winner of Animation in a Live Action Production (a new category that was just introduced last year) was Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Minkyu Lee won Best Animated Short Subject for his 17 minute 2D film Adam and Dog. In the category of Best Game, the honor went to Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, the creation of well-known funny animal and fantasy cartoonist Michel Gagne. In the television categories, the big winner of the night was Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice from Disney, which won four awards.  (However the big prize, Best General Audience TV Production, went to perennial favorite The Simpsons). Penguins of Madagascar won for Editing in a TV Production, and Voice Acting (for Jeff Bennett as Kowalski). The entire show as hosted by comedian and actor Patton Oswalt, the voice of Remy in Pixar’s Ratatouille.  At the after-awards dinner party, Rango director Gore Verbinski remarked that the show was “The strangest thing I’ve ever seen”. We’d be hard-pressed to argue. For a complete list of all the winners and nominees, make sure to visit the Annie Awards web site. And remember, a membership in ASIFA not only gets you a discount on tickets to the Annie Awards, but lots of animation screenings and seminars throughout the year as well.

image c. 2011 Paramount Pictures

The Annie Awards Are Announced

On December 5th nominations were announced for the annual Annie Awards, presented by the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA). These are the Oscar Awards of animated cartoons, people, and every year their prestige in Hollywood circles seems to increase. As usual the nominations for 2011 included several films and TV series of interest to furry fandom — as well as a few of what are likely to be considered glaring omissions. Taking their cue from the Oscars themselves perhaps, this year the Annie Awards have no less than 10 nominees for Best Animated Feature Film, up from the usual 5 of years past. Notable anthropomorphic films up for the honor include A Cat in Paris, Cars 2, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots, Rango, and Rio.  Nominees for Best Animated Special Production (i.e., direct-to-video or DVD) include Adventure Time: Thank You, Ice Age: Mammoth Christmas, Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters, and Prey 2 — but not, interestingly, Dreamworks’ Gift of the Night Fury. Among the nominees for Best Animated Television Production for Children are Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness and Penguins of Madagascar. Conspicuous in their absence perhaps: My Little Pony — Friendship is Magic and the reboot of Thundercats. What’s up with that? The Annie Awards will be presented at a gala Hollywood ceremony on February 4th, 2012, at UCLA’s Royce Hall in Los Angeles, California. You can find out more about the Annie Awards, including the full list of nominated productions and people, at the Annie Awards web site.

And Speaking of Awards…

Saturday the 5th of February it was time once again for the annual Annie Awards, presented by the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA) for the best in animation. This year, of course, was the year of controversy for the Annies, now that Disney/Pixar have pulled their sponsorship and official participation in the awards due to what they feel are flawed and lop-sided voting practices. Specifically, they’ve accused the Annies of being overly weighted toward Dreamworks Animation productions. Probably because there is a very large percentage of ASIFA that includes Dreamworks employees as members. Probably because at one point Dreamworks was offering to subsidize its employees’ membership in ASIFA, while Disney and Pixar were not. So, it probably didn’t sit well at all with Disney and Pixar that Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon swept the Annie Awards this year, much like Kung Fu Panda did a couple of years ago. In fact, this year, the Kung Fu Panda Holiday TV special also swept the Annie Awards in the television categories. Here’s a recap from Variety: “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 picture, 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 [Hiccup], 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 [Mr. Ping].” Other awards from the evening  (ones that Furry Fans might notice) included T.U.F.F. Puppy winning two awards for storyboards and character design (in a TV production). Ryan Page won the first ever Annie Award for “Character Animation in a Live Action Production” for his work on Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. The evening also featured lifetime achievement awards (the Windsor McCay Award) for director Brad Bird (who joked in a video clip about his move from directing animation to live action), veteran animator Eric Goldberg, and creator Matt Groening (who joked live about the fact he’s spent 23 years in animation and only done two things: The Simpsons and Futurama). You can read more about the Annie Awards — and soon, see pictures from the show — on their web site.

The Annie Award Nominees announced

The International Animated Film Society (ASIFA) have announced the nominees for the annual Annie Awards, to be presented at UCLA (in Los Angeles) on February 5th.  The Annies are a big deal these days, as they are often (but not always) a good predictor for how the voting will go at the Academy Awards later next year. Now as you may recall, there has been some controversy regarding the Annie Awards this year: Disney and Pixar have withheld their official support, citing what they feel are unfair voting practices that tilt things against them. Whether or not there’s any truth to that or not, the fact remains that Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon has clearly dominated this year’s Annie nominations, with a total of 15. Megamind and Shrek Forever After were also high on the nomination list, with six and five, respectively. On the Disney/Pixar side, Toy Story 3 picked up three nominations while Tangled picked up two. In the TV Animation categories, heavily nominated items included The Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special, Scared Shrekless, Star Wars: Clone Wars, T.U.F.F. Puppy, and eternal favorite Robot Chicken. The Best Animated Video Game Category returned this year and, interestingly, this year there is a new category: Best Character Animation in a Live Action Movie. Only two nominees for the latter: Clash of the Titans and Alice in Wonderland. To see the full list of nominees and find out more about getting tickets to the show, visit the Annie Awards web site.