30th Annual Annie Awards
I must admit to both some disappointment and surprise at the winners of the 30th Annual Annie Awards ceremony held on Saturday, February 1st, at Glendale's Alex Theatre. I really had no quibbles with the awards given to Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away, which received top honors in the feature arena, or even the dominance of Genndy Tartakovsky's Samurai Jack in the TV categories; however, I was disappointed by the lack of any awards for Chris Wedge's Ice Age, especially for Peter de Sève's wonderfully innovative character designs. And I was surprised at the strength of the showing of Kelly Asbury and Lorna Cook's Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.
The fact was this year's Annie Awards nominees, particularly in the feature categories, were very strong indeed. Part of this stems from shifting the ceremony from November to February and moving to a calendar year in terms of eligibility; this had the effect of enlarging the eligibility window enlarged to 18 months on a one-time basis. This was done to make the Annies more relevant in the nominating process for the new Best Animated Feature Oscar. The major studios took the bait, investing considerable publicity efforts on the awards, including special screenings for ASIFA-Hollywood members.
The shift also had the effect of hurting the chances for Monsters, Inc. and Treasure Planet; Monsters only won for best character design, while Ron Clements and John Musker's underrated Treasure Planet got none. (Interestingly, the jury for the best feature on which served, was initially split between Spirit and Treasure Planet, a situation which only arose because Monsters, Inc. was also in the running.)
Spirited Away took top honors for best feature film, directing, writing and music; Spirit grabbed many of the other theatrical Annies, including those for production design, character design, effects animation and storyboarding. On the TV side, Samurai Jack won for best character design, music, production design and storyboarding. The Simpsons, as it has always done, won for best television production, with Rolie Polie Olie and Rolie Polie Olie: The Great Defender of Fun doing the same in the children's television and home video categories respectively. Other winners included Ray Harryhausen's The Tortoise and the Hare for best short subject and Cartoon Network for its TV commercial for Courage the Cowardly Dog.
For more details, check out the ASIFA-Hollywood website; in the meantime, here's some snapshots from the post-ceremonies reception.