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The Annie Awards for 2017

Saturday the 3rd at UCLA, the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA) handed out the annual Annie Awards for the best in animated films, television, and effects for the year 2017. As everyone expected, the big winner of the evening was Disney/Pixar’s Coco, which took home 11 of the 13 honors that it was nominated for, including Best Feature, Best Directing, and Best Writing. (Not really an anthropomorphic film, but those alebrijes were so cool!) In spite of Coco’s sweep, there was still room for several anthropomorphic items to win awards in several categories. Revolting Rhymes was awarded Best Special Production (the award for medium-length original films). Based on the poems of Roald Dahl, Revolting Rhymes was created by Magic Light Pictures, which previously brought us The Gruffalo and Highway Rat. Silvergate Media’s series The Octonauts won for Best TV Production for Preschool Children, while We Bare Bears won Best TV Production for Children. Trollhunters won for Best Character Animation in a TV Production, and the feature War for the Planet of the Apes won for Character Animation in a Live Action Production. Cuphead took home the award for Best Game. Meanwhile, the Disney Mickey Mouse TV series had quite a night, taking home Annies for Best Directing, Best Music, and Best Storyboarding. Visit the Annie Awards web site to see the full list. [And remember: The Ursa Major Awards are taking nominations now!]

Image c. 2018 Magic Light Pictures

Animals by Disney, Book by Joe

Okay, so here’s this: The Disney Animal Journeys Comics Treasury, a new massive (more than 700 pages!) trade paperback from Joe Books. We got this from Previews: “Rumble through the jungle, soar through the sky, and dive into the sea with this giant comic collection of Disney animal stories! Revisiting the adventures of your favorite Disney animals – from timeless Disney Bambi, Disney The Lion King, and Disney•Pixar A Bug’s Life to Disney•Pixar Finding Dory and Disney Zootopia — this treasury will provide hours of entertainment for all ages and species!” It’s available now.

image c. 2017 Joe Books

Elf-topia?

Among the big announcements to come out of this year’s D23 Expo (Disney’s bi-annual convention for their biggest and geekiest fans — hey, your ed-otter is one!) is news of an as-yet-untitled new CGI film from Pixar… a “suburban fantasy”. According to a preview at Entertainment Weekly, “During the fan convention’s animation panel on Friday, John Lasseter introduced director Dan Scanlon to unveil details about a new original film on Pixar’s upcoming slate, filling in one of the cryptic untitled slots on the studio’s release schedule. Lasseter described the film as ‘an adventure set in a suburban fantasy world,’ and Scanlon, who helmed Monsters University, debuted concept art showing a large winged creature flying over a small town at sunset. Set in a human-less world of elves, trolls, sprites, and ‘pretty much anything that would be on the side of a van in the ‘70s,’ the movie follows two teenage brothers whose father died when they were young; now, they’re on a quest through this mundane, modern fantasy world to somehow find a way to spend one last magical day with their father.” Oh and by the way, there are unicorns everywhere. and a dragon or two thrown into the mix as well. No word on a release date yet (or a title!), but speculation is leaning toward the summer of 2020 or 2021.

image c. 2017 The Disney Company

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The Annie Awards for 2016

Your humble ed-otter journeyed to UCLA for the 44th annual Annie Awards — the Oscars of animation, presented by ASIFA-Hollywood. As expected (or hoped by many furry fans!), Zootopia dominated the evening in the feature categories, taking home Annies for Storyboarding, Character Design, Writing, Directing, and Best Feature. It was not a sweep, however, and Kubo and the Two Strings was not far behind: It won awards in the feature categories for Editing, Character Animation, and Production Design. Voting for the Best Voice Acting in the feature category resulted in a tie, shared by Auli’i Cravalho for Moana and Jason Bateman for Zootopia. A new category, Best Independent Feature, was won by the subtly anthropomorphic film The Red Turtle. Disney’s film The Jungle Book won an Annie for Character Animation In A Live Action Production (though it’s still controversial if the film counts as that). Best Short was won by Pixar’s popular birdie film Piper, while Best Student Film went to a European short about dinosaurs called Citipati. Over in the TV broadcast categories the most popular winner of furry interest seemed to be Dreamworks’ Trollhunters, which won for Storyboarding, Character Design, and Character Animation. The Best Television Production for Preschool Children went to Tumble Leaf, while the Best TV Production for Children went to to Adventure Time. Visit the Annie Awards web site for a complete list of the nominees and winners. Congratulations to all!

image c. 2017 Walt Disney Animation

A Closer Look at 2017

Our friends over at Cartoon Brew are finishing up the year with an article about 60 (!) animated films scheduled for release in 2017. Some are brand new releases, and some have already made the rounds in other parts of the world but will not be premiering in North America ’till next year. And of course, with a huge set of films like that, more than a fair share of them are definitely going to have some interest for the anthropomorphic fans out there! Taking a quick look ourselves, the upcoming animated films of furry note — some a lot, some a little — include (deep breath…): Animal Crackers, Beast of Burden, Blazing Samurai, Bunyan & Babe, Cars 3, Clara, Despicable Me 3, The Emoji Movie, Ferdinand, Foodiverse, Godzilla (yes, the first animated Godzilla movie!), Here Comes The Grump, Kikoriki — Deja Vu, Kung Food, Lino, Manou the Swift, Mune — Guardian of the Moon, My Cool Dad, My Little Pony — The Movie, The Nut Job 2, Ping Pong Rabbit, Pokemon The Movie — I Choose You, Punyakoti, The Red Turtle, Richard the Stork, Rock Dog, Sahara, Smurfs — The Lost Village, Spark, The Star, Urfin Jus and His Wooden Soldiers, and Underdog. Whew! The article at Cartoon Brew includes several trailers. Of course we’ll be talking a lot more about each of these films as they get closer to release. Happy New Year!

image c. 2016 Studio Canal

Animation Fans Like Zootopia

Recently the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA) announced the nominees for the Annie Awards of 2016, celebrating the best in animation in all media. Perhaps surprising no one, Zootopia topped the list with 11 nominations in 10 categories — including Best Feature Film, Best Writing, Best Directing, Best Editing, Best Production Design, Best Character Design, Best Voice Acting, Best Effects Animation, Best Storyboarding, and two nominations for Best Character Animation. The Annies being widely acknowledged as “the Oscars of Animation” means that Zootopia is now considered to be a front-runner for the Best Animated Feature Film at the actual Oscars — if not more categories as well. Interestingly, one thing that was a surprise was that Zootopia’s biggest competition at the Annies is not Pixar favorite Finding Dory (which was nominated in only four categories) but Laika’s most recent stop-motion film, Kubo and the Two Strings — which was also nominated in 10 categories. Other films of Furry interest that received nominations include Kung Fu Panda 3, The Red Turtle, The Secret Life of Pets, The Jungle Book, Sing, and Storks. Over in the TV category the anthro-themed nominees included Bojack Horseman, Peg + Cat, Puffin Rock, Tumble Leaf, Elena of Avalor, and long-running favorites like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Adventure Time, and Wander of Yonder. Plus many other nominees in many categories, including the avian favorite Piper for Best Short. Read all about it over at the Annie Awards site. The awards will be presented at UCLA on February 4th next year. (And don’t forget — soon it will be time to nominate the Ursa Major Awards too!)

image c. 2016 Disney Animation

image c. 2016 Disney Animation

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The Mickey Mysteries

Papercutz (home, once again, of Geronimo Stilton and family) have a new series of three Disney Graphic Novels coming to bookshelves later this month. Volume 1 is based on the world of Disney’s Planes (which is based on the world of Pixar’s Cars, of course). Volume 3 is called Minnie and Daisy: Best Friends Forever, which probably speaks for itself. Most unusual perhaps is Volume 2, entitled X-Mickey. “It’s a supernatural Disney adventure as Mickey Mouse meets Pipwolf, a werewolf who bears more than a passing resemblance to Goofy! X-Mickey is a fun Disney series that introduces everyone’s favorite mouse to another dimension full of spooks, ghosts, goblins and more. Accompanied by Pipwolf and an albino mouse named Manny, Mickey must do everything he can to keep Mouseton safe and keep these creatures locked up where they belong.”

image c. 2016 Papercutz

image c. 2016 Papercutz

The Annie Awards, Part 2

In addition to the industry-voted honors, each year the Annies celebrate several talented individuals with special honorary awards. This year, all four recipients had a history of anthropomorphic works of one sort or another. The June Foray Award (for service to the community and art of animation) went to veteran Disney producer Don Hahn, who of course helped to shepherd Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King (among many other films) into existence. The Windsor McCay Award went to three individuals for their lifetime achievement in cartoons. Isao Takahata (co-founder of Stuido Ghibli with Hayao Miyazaki) is celebrated far and wide for anime films like The Grave of the Fireflies and The Tale of Princess Kaguya, but he also directed the tenuki adventure Pom Poko. (And, early in his career, he directed episodes of Panda! Go Panda!) Phil Roman founded his animation studio Film Roman in the 80’s, and they have since become famous as the home of The Simpsons and King of the Hill. But they are also the studio that gave us furrier works like Garfield and Friends, Cro, Mother Goose and Grimm, C-Bear and Jamal, and The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat. Finally, a special posthumous McCay Award was presented to the memory of Joe Ranft, Pixar Studio’s head of Story, who died in a tragic car accident ten years ago. Over the years Joe worked on numerous animated films at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation, but he may perhaps best be remembered as the voice of Heimlich the caterpillar in Pixar’s movie A Bug’s Life.

image c. 2016 Pixar, Walt Disney Company

image c. 2016 Pixar, Walt Disney Company

Furry Winners at the Annie Awards

Once again your humble ed-otter was lucky enough to attend the Annie Awards for 2015, presented at UCLA’s Royce Hall on February 6th. Presented by the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA), the Annie Awards honor the best of the animation industry — as selected by members of that industry. Surprising no-one, the night belonged to Pixar’s Inside Out. (It has already won almost every major award it has been nominated for, and of course it’s nominated for an Oscar as well.) Inside Out won in the Best Feature categories for Storyboarding, Editing, Character Design, Music, Character Animation, Production Design, Voice Acting (Phyllis Smith as Sadness), Writing, Directing, and (of course) Best Animated Feature. Bing Bong himself even helped to present some of the awards. (*sniff* Bing Bong…) A few other features managed to sneak in awards, and some of them were even for animal characters! The Good Dinosaur won in the category of Best Effects Animation. (It’s been celebrated far and wide for its realistic backgrounds and water effects.) And The Revenant won Best Animated Character In A Live Action Production for the bear that nearly eats Leonardo DiCaprio. Over in the TV and other divisions, furries were well-represented in several award categories. Disney’s new Mickey Mouse Shorts won for Best Storyboarding, Best Music, and Best Editing. ASIFA favorites. Dreamworks TV had two wins, as Dragons: Race to the Edge won for Best Character Animation and The Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show won for Best Production Design. Previous Annie favorites Tumble Leaf and Wander Over Yonder won for Best Production for Preschoolers and Best Production for Children, respectively. Psyop (home of those infamous Orangina commercials!) won Best Commercial for their Coca Cola ad Man and Dog, and Best Animated Game went to the monster adventure Evolve from 2K. [To save space, tomorrow we’ll tell you about the special awards presented at the Annies — and why you should care!] You can find out more about all of these and more over at the ASIFA Hollywood web site.

image c. 2016 Pixar

image c. 2016 Pixar Animation