Now everybody looks bad.
The 2011 Annie Awards were announced tonight in Los Angeles and to no one’s surprise, DreamWorks Animation’s “How To Train Your Dragon” pulled off a clean sweep of all the major awards including Best Animated Feature, Directing in a Feature Production, Storyboarding in a Feature Production, Writing in a Feature Production, Character Animation in a Feature Production and Voice Acting in a Feature Production (Jay Baruchel as Hiccup). This after, as reported previously, Walt Disney Animation and Pixar Studios boycotted the longstanding animation organization after complaints of unfair membership standards and voting.
And yet, after this public declaration and with drawl from participation (essentially boycotting tonight’s show), the Annies still nominated Disney/Pixar films “Tangled” and “Toy Story 3” in the best animated feature race and “Toy Story 3’s” Lee Unkrich for directing among others nods. While it’s worth noting the Pixar produced “Day & Night” won best animated short, perhaps a nod to the individual efforts of director Teddy Newton, none of the other Disney or Pixar nominees came through. Now, while this is one pundit who is one of the few who prefers “Dragon” to “Toy Story 3,” the Annie voters didn’t do themselves any favors by completely ignoring it. As amazing a job as Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois did on “Dragon,” would it have been that difficult to spread the wealth and honor Lee Unkrich for “Toy Story 3”? We’ll never know the vote totals, but it appears so. And that’s really too bad because it makes the remaining membership look just as spiteful and bitter as the Disney/Pixar leadership that denied most of their employees the opportunity to be recognized by their peers across the industry.
Needless to say, this issue needs to be resolved with compromise on both sides (and you know who you are) before next year’s award season. This town has enough angst to handle with the annual Scott Rudin and Harvey Weinstein wars in live action than to see more back and forth between two incredibly successful and creative power houses. How about some mutual respect and kindness for once between NoCal and SoCal? Is that too much to ask? Dear lord, what would we do if Universal Animation or Fox Animation actually made a better film than the big two? Perish the thought.
A list of all of this year’s Annie Award recipients can be found here.