Disney’s animated hit “Zootopia,” which tackled prejudice and species-profiling, took top-honors at 44th Annie Awards this year. The animated-feature won ‘Best Animated Feature’ at the event, which took place on 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’.
The award for ‘Best Animated Feature – Independent’ was presented to the film, “The Red Turtle” (Studio Ghibli – Wild Bunch – Why Not Productions).
Laika’s “Kubo And The Two Strings” won three Annies for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Character Animation’, ‘Production Design’ and ‘Editorial’. The award for ‘Best Animated Special Production’ was awarded to “Pear Cider and Cigarettes” (Massive Swerve Studios and Passion Pictures Animation). PIXAR fans should be happy to know that ‘Best Animated Short Subject’ went to Piper (Pixar Animation Studios).
Other awards included 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.”
Presenting the 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 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 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.
The ceremony was live-streamed again this year at 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 annieawards.org.