Filed in: Animation, Awards, Featured, Film, Television
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A Level Playing Field at the 2012 Annies

February 6, 2012 | By

After great controversy over the domination of a select few companies at the 2010 Annies, the International Animated Film Society presented a more egalitarian approach at the 2012 awards. ASIFA – Hollywood offered entries from many companies in many categories at the Feb. 4 awards show, which had been criticized for being relegated to only a few firms garnering top wins previously. While DreamWorks Animation, Pixar and Disney still reign as top box-office earners with their productions, and The Simpsons is still a lauded and steadily awarded TV show, other lesser-known companies managed to gain due attention, both in individual nominated and awarded form with the 28 awards given out in 2012.

DreamWorks’ biggest 2012 entry, Kung Fu Panda 2 did manage to gain a key win in the best director category for a feature production when the humble soft-spoken Jennifer Yuh Nelson won over other possible favorites including Chris Miller for Puss in Boots (also DreamWorks and a cousin to the Shrek franchise) and Gore Verbinski for Rango, which won for best animated feature, best writing (Verbinski with John Logan and James Byrkit), best editing (Craig Wood, A.C.E), and best character design in a feature animated film for Mark “Crash” McCreery whose career started in live-action character design. Not created by the big three, Rango was a co-production of Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies who presented the project based on work by the company Blind Wink/GK Films.

Other companies relatively new to the fold, especially considering the long runs of both DreamWorks and Pixar, not to mention Disney, were Sony Pictures Animation/Aardman’s Arthur Christmas, Amblin/Wingnut’s Tintin, and Blue Sky StudiosRio. Though Pixar’s feature entry for the 2012 event at UCLA’s Royce Hall was Cars 2, it was not considered an awards favorite. Ditto for Folimage’s A Cat in Paris, Perro Verde Film’s Arrugas, and Chico and Rita, which was presented by a limited partnership.

Of note, though not awarded on par with the aforementioned films, the highly anticipated Tintin, directed by Steven Spielberg and co-produced by Peter Jackson with animation by Jackson’s Weta Digital, based on motion-capture performances, did win awards for John Williams’ score and its animated effects in an animated production (Kevin Romond). Tintin was Spielberg’s first foray into directing an animated film, and though he was not nominated, many of the film’s various craftspeople were noted with nominations. Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment (and curiously not DreamWorks) produced Tintin with Jackson’s Wingnut Films and Spielberg’s longtime associates, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall’s company.

Keeping the festivities light and at times uproarious was noted voice actor/comedian Patton Oswalt, who riffed on many “awkward” complications in the order of awards presented by different guests and celebrities. Oswalt was particularly good off-the-cuff, improvising many moments throughout the evening, including a point at which he threw his jacket on the ground to rescue a young presenter who had given away the winner of an award not yet announced.

Nonetheless, the Annies make for an entertaining evening if one not necessarily for general audiences. The many clips presented for various films and TV productions showed a breadth of stylistic choices and media in which to work. In fact, other than Disney’s Winnie the Pooh update, very few American productions seemed to be animated with wholly traditional hand-drawn methods. Case in point was one duo of producers who won for a Disney Television Animation Production of Disney Jake and the Never Land Pirates. They noted the mix of computer and hand-drawn media in their show, all merged together with the Flash animation program.

Surprisingly many of the Annies’ individual categories might equally apply to live-action filmmaking, such as awards given for best production design, best effects, best music and best short. Other awards were subdivided, such as the TV show awards which are separated into categories aimed at preschool, children and general audiences. Even actors are awarded here, albeit in voice incarnation only. Will that change one day now that animation and live-action captured performances are integrated, as with Rise of the Planet of the Apes which did win an award for best character animation in a live-action feature? Certainly, one can make a case for Andy Serkis winning such an award for playing the lead ape Caesar in that film. Of course, the animation at Weta Digital, supervised by Eric Reynolds who took home the trophy, did a superb job bringing Caesar to life. But Serkis’ contributions cannot be seen as an aside. Much as a film’s script sets the stage for the director to create his/her work, a live-action performance sets up the ability of character animation to rise to a new level. One could easily see “best animated performance by a live-action performer” becoming part of the Annies’ landscape, or possibly at the Oscars.

The 2011 Annie Award Winners are:

Production Categories

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 Video Game

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet – Shadow Planet Productions, Gagne/Fuelcell

Individual Achievement Categories

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 – Walt Disney Animation Studios

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 – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Character Design in a Feature Production

Mark “Crash” McCreery, Rango – Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Production

Directing in a Television Production

Matthew Nastuk, The Simpsons – Gracie Films

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 – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Music in a Feature Production

John Williams, Tintin – Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall

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 – DreamWorks Animation

Storyboarding in a Television Production

Brian Kesinger, Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Storyboarding in a Feature Production

Jeremy Spears, Winnie The Pooh – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Voice Acting in a Television Production

Jeff Bennett as Kowalski in Penguins of Madagascar – Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation

Voice Acting in a Feature Production

Bill Nighy as Grandsanta in Arthur Christmas – Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations

Writing in a Television Production

Carolyn Omine, The Simpsons, “Treehouse of Horror XXII” – Gracie Films

Writing in a Feature Production

John Logan, Gore Verbinski and James Byrkit, Rango – Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Production

Editing in Television Production

Ted Machold, Jeff Adams, Doug Tiano and Bob Tomlin, Penguins of

Madagascar – Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation

Editing in a Feature Production

Craig Wood, A.C.E., Rango – Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Production

Juried Awards

Winsor McCay Award – Walt Peregoy, Borge Ring and Ronald Searle

June Foray – Art Leonardi

Special Achievement – Depth Analysis

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