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.