Walt Disney Animation Studios‘ Zootopia took the top honor as Best Animated Feature at the 44th Annual Annie Awards™, Saturday evening at UCLA‘s Royce Hall. Zootopia also received an Annies trophy for Outstanding Storyboarding (Dean Wellins); Outstanding Character Design (Cory Loftis); Outstanding Voice Acting (Jason Bateman as Nick Wilde); Outstanding Writing (Jared Bush & Phil Johnston); and Best Directing (Byron Howard & Rich Moore). Best Animated Feature – Independent was presented to the film, The Red Turtle (Studio Ghibli/Wild Bunch/Why Not Productions).
Created in 1972 by June Foray, the Annie Awards have grown in scope and stature for the past four decades. The Annie Awards™ honor overall excellence as well as individual achievement in a total of 36 categories from best feature, best feature – independent, production design, character animation, and effects animation to storyboarding, writing, music, editing and voice acting, and have often been a predictor of the annual Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
Laika‘s Kubo And The Two Strings garnered three Annies for Outstanding Achievement in Character Animation, Production Design and Editorial; Best Animated Special Production was awarded to Pear Cider and Cigarettes (Massive Swerve Studios and Passion Pictures Animation); Best Animated Short Subject Piper (Pixar Animation Studios); Best Animated TV/Broadcast Commercial Loteria ‘Night Shift’ (Passion Pictures Ltd.); Best General Audience Animated TV/Broadcast Production for Preschool Children Tumble Leaf – Mighty Mud Movers/Having a Ball (Amazon Studios and Bix Pix Entertainment); Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production for Children Adventure Time – Bad Jubies (Bix Pix Entertainment, Cartoon Network, Frederator Studios); Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production for a General Audience Bob’s Burgers – Glued, Where’s My Bob? (Bento Box Entertainment); and Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in a Live Action Production: The Jungle Book (Walt Disney Pictures).
“It was a big year for animation all around. We saw a huge number of projects, great diversity of subjects and styles and increasing international participation,” remarked Frank Gladstone, Annie Awards executive producer. “Animation’s positive impact on communities world-wide was evident throughout the evening. It was a great night.”
The Annie Awards is presented by ASIFA-Hollywood, (International Animated Film Society-Hollywood), the largest chapter of the world’s first and foremost professional organization dedicated to promoting the art of animation and celebrating the people who create it. Today, ASIFA-Hollywood supports a range of animation activities and preservation efforts through its membership (Support and encourage animation education, Support the preservation and critical evaluation of animation industry, Recognize achievement of excellence in the art and field of animation, Increase the public awareness about animation, Act as a liaison to encourage the free exchange of ideas within the animation community, Encourage journalism documenting current trends and activities in animation, Encourage the social interaction of professional and non-professional animation enthusiasts, and Encourage the development and expression of all forms of animation). Current initiatives include the Animation Archive, Animation Aid Foundation, animated film preservation, special events, classes and screenings.
Presenting the coveted Annie trophies this year were Lakers basketball legend, Kobe Bryant; actress Jenna Elfman; animator and film director, Patrick Osborne; Auli’l Cravalho (voice of Moana); animator, author and illustrator, Glen Keane; actor and comedian, Tom Kenny; Paige O’Hara (25th Anniversary of Beauty and the Beast); actor & director, James Hong; directors Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings) and Michael Dudok de Wit (The Red Turtle); comedian Stephen Kramer Glickman and actress Chelsea Kane, along with ASIFA-Hollywood President, Jerry Beck and Executive Director, Frank Gladstone.
ASIFA-Hollywood was thrilled to have all three Winsor McCay recipients in attendance. The Winsor McCay Award recipients this year are legendary animator Dale Baer; independent animation champion Caroline Leaf; and influential anime director Mamoru Oshii for career contributions to the art form. The Ub Iwerks Award was presented to Google Spotlight‘s Virtual Reality Platform for technical advancement; and the Special Achievement Award was presented to Life, Animated, a documentary about animation’s effect on one young autistic man’s journey. The June Foray Award was presented to Bill & Sue Kroyer for their career-long benevolent and public-spirited influence within the animation community. Certificate of Merit awards were presented to Leslie Ezeh, ASIFA-Hollywood volunteer coordinator and Gary Perkovac, ASIFA-Hollywood‘s office manager.
The ceremony was live-streamed again this year at www.annieawards.org/watch-it-live where animation enthusiasts and those unable to attend the event, could watch the show. A complete list of winners can be viewed at www.annieawards.org and highlights of the ceremony will be uploaded to the Annies website in the next few weeks.