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HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON Sweeps Annie Awards; Credibility Issues Continue

How to Train Your Dragon
Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders' How to Train Your Dragon

The Annie Awards-DreamWorks marriage has become unofficially official: The DreamWorks/Paramount animated feature How to Train Your Dragon swept the 2011 Annie Awards, winning 10 trophies, including the Best Animated Film award handed out by Guillermo del Toro. In August last year, Disney and Pixar withdrew from the International Animated Film Association, which selects the Annie Award nominees and winners, because of its voting regulations which allow DreamWorks personnel to dominate the ranks of the Association. [Full list of Annie Award winners and nominees.]

How to Train Your Dragon had been up for 15 Annies (the film was a double nominee in several categories). Pixar's Toy Story 3, the year's most successful animated feature both among filmgoers and film critics, was nominated for only three Annies while Disney's Tangled landed two nods. Neither film won any awards.

Two years ago, DreamWorks' Kung Fu Panda swept the Annie Awards, whereas Pixar's WALL-E, winner of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association's award for Best Picture of 2008, went home empty-handed. Unless voting regulations are drastically changed in the near future, the Annies will continue to be dogged by credibility issues.

According to TheWrap's Steve Pond, the Association has already restricted voting "to those who've been approved by special committees." Even so, Pond adds, "DreamWorks employees are said by those familiar with the roster to make up as much as 40 percent of the membership."

Both How to Train Your Dragon and Toy Story 3 are up for the Best Animated Feature Oscar. The third nominee in that category is Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist.

Photo: DreamWorks / Paramount.

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2 Comments to HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON Sweeps Annie Awards; Credibility Issues Continue

  1. SM

    Thank you for writing.

    First of all, a clarification: The "marriage" joke wasn't intended to encompass the last 10 or 20 years. But in the last three years, DW has won two Annies for Best Animated Feature. Not a big deal, except when you consider that "Kung Fu Panda" wasn't exactly a critical favorite, whereas "WALL-E" was: 45 wins (no Annies) as per the IMDb vs. "Panda's" 12 wins — ten of which were Annies. That's quite a discrepancy.

    "How to Train Your Dragon" was a much-better received release, but that doesn't explain why critics and audiences' favorite "Toy Story 3" was nominated for only *three* Annies this year. Disney's "Tangled," though not exactly an overwhelming critical success, received only two. That *is* strange.

    I don't know when DreamWorks began taking over — if Disney/Pixar's allegations are true — the voting ranks of the Annie Awards. Perhaps that began recently. It could even be that the Annies had been previously dominated by Disney personnel. (That would be an interesting investigative piece.)

    Either way, the International Animated Film Association clearly has to further revamp/tighten its rules. Else, its awards will no longer be taken seriously.

    And finally, I checked the list of the Annies' Best Animated Feature winners of the last 13 years:
    Warner Bros. beat Pixar/Disney and DW in 1998 ("The Iron Giant")
    Studio Ghibli beat Pixar/Disney and DW in 2002 ("Spirited Away")
    Pixar wins: 2000 ("Toy Story 2"), 2003 ("Finding Nemo"; DW wasn't in the running), 2004 ("The Incredibles"), 2006 ("Cars"), 2007 ("Ratatouille"), 2009 ("Up"; DW wasn't in the running — "Monsters vs. Aliens" wasn't exactly a major critical hit, with 59% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes).
    DW wins: 2001 ("Shrek"), 2005 ("Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit"), 2008 ("Kung Fu Panda"), 2010 ("How to Train Your Dragon")

    So, in the last dozen years, Pixar/Disney productions won six times — that's half of the total. Twice, DW wasn't in the running.
    DW won four times — that's a third of the total — two of which in the last three years.
    This has gotten so long I'll write a brief post about it…

  2. Jack

    Steve, you fail to mention that Disney/Pixar WON best picture 6 out of the 8 years that they were in competition with Dreamworks. That doesn't sound very stacked in Dreamworks favor. The two years that they did win, it was for Curse of the Were Rabbit and Kung Fu Panda, two critical and crowd favorites, so why shouldn't they have won? Does Disney/Pixar have to win EVERY year they have a film in contention for the Annies to be legitimate? The organization changed to rules so that only pros in the nominated categories could vote. What more do they want?

    6 out of 8 times. If it's a marriage as you call it, it's not a very fruitful one.


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