Sunday, February 3, 2013

Annie Aftermath

See all the nominations and winners here.

Last night, the 40th Annual Annie Awards ceremony took place. As usual, several films, short subjects and television shows competed for a grand prize; whether it was for best writing or best storyboards or best effects in a live action film...

One particular film went over like gangbusters at the ceremony. No, it wasn't DreamWorks' Rise of the Guardians. That would've happened if that film came out in 2010. No, no, no... This film particularly wrecked a good portion of the ceremony...

That's right. Walt Disney Animation Studios' Wreck-It Ralph took home the award for Best Animated Feature; while also winning Outstanding Achievement for Writing, Directing and Music. Alan Tudyk won for Voice Acting and deservedly so; his King Candy character was marvelous. To top it off, John Kahrs' ethereal Paperman took home the award for Best Animated Short Subject. Deservedly so. It was a win-win situation for the rejuvenated Walt Disney Animation Studios...

One minor gripe. Wreck-It Ralph did not get a nomination for Production Design in an animated feature. Sure it took home other and better awards, but Wreck-It Ralph had some of the best art direction in an animated film released in 2012, period. Handling three distinct video game worlds, I felt, was a bigger feat than what was accomplished in Ice Age: Continental Drift and Hotel Transylvania. Ralph was unjustly left out of that category... Can't say I'm pleased with that.

Aside from Ralph's victories, I felt the rest of the ceremony was overall solid, but littered with massive problems.

Remember that last Annie Awards ceremony with all the flubs? Well, it seems like the negatives were amplified here. Yes, the wrong envelope incident happened again. But even worse was when they were presenting the nominees for Best Directing for an animated television production, they showed the feature film nominees by accident! Oops...

Other than that, you had the hosts often messing up, even greats like Leonard Maltin himself. Wreck-It Ralph director Rich Moore was able to deliver a good enough speech, and even took a nice jab at the generally unorganized ceremony. Also, they started late. What is with this ceremony and why are they out of it? Many commentators, animators and writers agree that the Annie Awards need to get their priorities straight. This is supposed to be animation's "Highest Honor". If you ask me, this lack of care is a dishonor.

Pushing all those scratches aside, I felt the ceremony was somewhat balanced in its choice nominees and what ultimately won.

I was happy to see ParaNorman get a few awards, both in the character design and character animation department. I felt that the crew also deserved an Effects in an Animated Feature award as well, instead that went to Rise of the Guardians. Hard to complain, all the runner-ups in the category were very strong. I, however, felt that ParaNorman beat them all by a hair since it was a stop-motion film and the effects were very convincing. Brave got two, one for editorial and one for production design.

Frankenweenie got very few nominations and took home nothing, sadly. Ditto The Pirates! Band of Misfits, but the competition was very strong. It still would've been nice to see those two films take an award home. The rest of the animated films - from Ice Age: Continental Drift to The Rabbi's Cat - got nothing. Again, Ralph trail blazed a lot of categories. Tough competition.

However, I felt most of that was balanced... What wasn't as balanced was in the television animated categories.

If you ask me, DreamWorks' Dragons: Riders of Berk took home a few too many awards. It took home Directing, Music and Storyboarding. It beat out titles like Adventure Time in those categories, while also being pitted against rather lame competition like Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Where was Disney's surprisingly great Gravity Falls and the ever-so-creative Regular Show?

Gravity Falls managed to get some love, but a very minimal amount. Kristen Schaal took home the voice acting award, and I felt she deserved it. Her Mabel character is hilarious, and arguably the best character in that show. It also got a nomination for production design, but it lost to something that deserved it... Tron: Uprising.

Tron: Uprising was a surprise hit at the ceremony, and hopefully it'll teach the ignorant people who moved it to the midnight time slot that they made a terrible mistake. Disney essentially killed this show just as it was about to really take off. They could've had another season or two on their hands, and the Tron franchise would've been expanded long before the third film arrives to theaters. What's going on, Disney?

The series also took home the character design award, though I wasn't too fond of the character designs in the show. I felt that was one of the weaker elements, it should've gotten awards for best music or something. Nope, Dragons hogged some of that up and even had more than one nomination in a single category. The Penguins of Madagascar also had quite a few nominations. All that aside, it was nice to see something Tron-related making a splash at the Annies.

Again, some of the nominees in certain categories were plain laughable. Sofia the First? Are you kidding me? Jake and the Neverland Pirates? What? Justin Time? Yeah, some of the nominations were a bit undeserved. I would've liked to have seen Regular Show or Archer or something other than a Nickelodeon or DreamWorks show get some attention. Alas, this didn't happen.

I was also happy to see what won in the live action categories. Life of Pi's tiger, Richard Parker, was certainly an astonishing feat. It won for best character animation. Why were the effects not up for best effects in a live action film in this ceremony? The Avengers took home the best effects award. With the exception of John Carter, I felt the film's effects were stronger than what was seen in its competition: The Amazing Spider-Man and Battleship.

It was also nice to see the Annies giving the spotlight to student films too.

The lifetime achievement awards were a highlight.

Terry Gilliam, June Foray, Mark Henn, Oscar Grillo and Howard Green all made good speeches and definitely deserved their awards.

- Wreck-It Ralph cleaned up house.
- Brave, Rise of the Guardians and ParaNorman got some recognition.
- Paperman took home Best Animated Short Subject.
- Most of the "feature" nomination selections were balanced.
- The lifetime achievement award segments.
- Mark Andrews (finishing director of Brave) certainly gave quite a speech. He's fun to watch.
- The speeches the recipients made were good.
- Tron: Uprising made the rounds here and there.
- Kristen Schaal winning.
- Life of Pi's Richard Parker winning.

- Television animation nominations; a little unbalanced. A little too much Dragons and Penguins hogging up space.
- Dragons took home too many awards.
- Some of the nominations in the individual TV animation categories were weak, a lot of much stronger entries were absent.
- Wreck-It Ralph not being nominated for production design in an animated feature. Big mistake.
- Frankenweenie not taking anything home.
- All the screw-ups, the drawn-out and awkward speeches. This is a ceremony!
- Still a little too much DreamWorks. I know the whole "rigging" controversy is over, but I couldn't help but think that they had a few too many slots in the television animation categories.

What did you think of the 40th Annie Awards? Were they a bust? Or do you think they made the right choices? What about the ceremony itself? Were you peeved by the unorganized nature of the whole thing? Or did you think it wasn't a problem? Sound off below!

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