2011 Annie Awards: So THAT Happened

A rocky road lies ahead for the Annie Awards, which honors the year in animation. Controversy has overshadowed the awards show for several years now. It finally boiled over this past August when Ed Catmull released a statement that Disney and Pixar would not be participating in the Annies, as the studios felt that the voting process was not fair. The ASIFA (Association Internationale du Film d’Animation) jury went ahead and added Toy Story 3 and Day & Night to the Annies ballot, which resulted in four nominations between the two. After the 38th annual awards were presented tonight, it is apparent that the controversy is here to stay.

Going into tonight’s awards presentation, Pixar did not have much of a chance. The studio’s films had not been officially submitted, so while other studio’s films received many nominations, Toy Story 3 only received three. Hence, it was not surprising to see that the Pixar film was shut out while How To Train Your Dragon essentially swept the night, winning 10 awards.

However, Day & Night did pick up the award for Best Animated Short Subject, giving Pixar one award for the evening. Given that no Pixar employees were present during tonight’s festivities, director Teddy Newton was not on hand to accept the award. I can only imagine the feeling that came over the room when the film was announced as the winner and Newton was not there to accept it.

How To Train Your Dragon is a beautiful film that is easily Dreamworks Animation’s best film. However, as Steve Pond of The Wrap reported, seeing the film sweep the same 10 categories that Kung Fu Panda won when it completely shut out WALL-E, certainly continues to raises doubts about the credibility of the Annies.

Critics and voters are entitled to their opinions, so an individual is completely within his or her right to like How To Train Your Dragon more than Toy Story 3, or vice versa. People have different taste in films, which is why everyone’s personal favorite films are their own. Both animated films were well regarded by critics, but 10-0 is not a healthy win – it is a beat-down.

Until the Annies alter their voting process, Disney and Pixar have vowed to not return to actively participate. Think of what would happen to the Academy Awards if major studios refused to participate. One thing is true: if the ASIFA does not make some changes, they may not have much credibility left to throw around. The Annies aim to be a night where animation is king, but sadly, the awards show is drowning under the waves of controversy.

Note: This post does not aim to take away from the individuals who won Annies tonight. There are many great animators, directors, and artists who have done an incredible job, regardless of their employer. When this post is critical, it is directed towards the ASIFA’s policies, and not any one studio or individuals who work for those studios. Congratulations to Day & Night and the rest of all the winners!

Click here to view a complete list of winners.

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  • http://a113animation.blogspot.com/ William Jardine

    HTTYD is a great film, but TS3 is simply better, whilst – as you say – HTTYD is a great film and everyone is entitled to their opinion, however this controversy is certain to overshadow HTTYD’s achievements!

  • Renard

    @William Jardine

    Good statements made there and I agree. HTTYD is epic but TS3 is the consensus better film.

    Anyways, when will an ANIMATION GUILD be established to award animation instead of the ASIFA? I think a guild, like the directors and producers and (and pretty much insert any Oscar category name)-guild would be a more reliable place than the ASIFA.

  • http://www.infurnation.com Rod O’Riley

    I’ve heard a lot of people talking about the controversy, but not a lot of people talking about what to DO about the controversy. “Changes must be made!” people say. Yes, but WHAT changes? It seems that Disney/Pixar’s demand is that an oversight committee be set up with representatives from various studios to advise the ASIFA board of directors. Okay, fine, but… why not just have your studio people JOIN ASIFA (as Dreamworks did, in droves) and get some of your people ON the board of directors?

    • pompeygeorge

      I believe (ready to stand corrected) that DreamWorks made joining ASIFA a mandated part of joining the company as an employee.

  • Brady Gorman

    Yes, people DO have varying opinions, but quality is undeniable. The Annies is nothing but biased trash that shouldn’t be regarded as legitimate in any way. Pixar and Disney were right in pulling out.

  • http://www.fb.me/oliver.galleguez Oliver Galleguez

    As we, Toy Story fans and also the in-favor-of the Dragon, we can all see that this year’s Annie Award had something wrong. Toy Story 3 is a VERY GOOD MOVIE. How To Train Your Dragon too. Actually, i cried more on the Dragon. But the awards are obviously bought although there is no proof. As for me, it’s always been TS3. But look, they had no awards from the Annies. But the fact here is that TS3 deserved as many awards as the Dragon got. Even more than that. It’s just… the awards panel, i mean, DreamWorks’ panel became biased and unfair. And i mean this, the Annie’s panel are DreamWorks-appointed voters. It’s like the Pixar’s Day and Night served as a consolation prize because DreamWorks has no short film entries. I feel sad. DreamWorks, PLAY FAIR PLEASE. Toy Story 3 won our own panels. That’s all.

    • http://fb.me/oliver.galleguez Oliver Galleguez

      Anyways, Pixar had taken the Annie Awards (and maybe DWA) into the spotlight of shame. Good thing they snubbed. Annie awards not honored by Pixar. Dreamworks won in an unreliable and a screw-y awards institution.