Home Movie Awards Disney Pixar & DreamWorks Animation: Annie Awards’ Unfair Edge Controversy

Disney Pixar & DreamWorks Animation: Annie Awards’ Unfair Edge Controversy

Annie Awards winner How to Train Your DragonDisney Pixar vs. DreamWorks Animation: Annie Awards winner How to Train Your Dragon, directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders.

Disney Pixar vs. DreamWorks Animation & Annie Awards ‘marriage’

A commenter took me to task for stating in a post written last night (Feb. 5; see further below) that the “marriage” between the International Animated Film Association and DreamWorks Animation and its Annie Awards had become “unofficially official” this year with How to Train Your Dragon‘s ten Annie wins, including Best Animated Feature – while Pixar’s Toy Story 3, up for three Annies, and Disney’s Tangled, up for two, went home empty-handed.

Two years ago, DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda also won ten Annies, including Best Animated Feature. That year, Pixar’s WALL-E was completely shut out.

Pixar / Disney Annie Awards

The reader reminded me that Pixar / Disney productions had won “six” [sic, actually five] Best Animated Feature Annies in the previous eight years, adding that “6 out of 8 times. If it’s a marriage as you call it, it’s not a very fruitful one.”

My response was the following (with a couple of revisions):

The “marriage” joke wasn’t intended to encompass the last 10 or 20 years. But in the last three years, DreamWorks 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: as per the IMDb, 45 wins (no Annies) vs. Kung Fu Panda‘s 12 wins (10 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 nods. That is strange.

In case Disney / Pixar’s allegations are true, I don’t know when DreamWorks began taking over the voting ranks of the Annie Awards. Perhaps that began recently. It could even be that the Annies had been previously dominated by Disney and/or Pixar 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.

Cars Movie Annie Award winnerCars’ movie: 2006 Annie Award winner.

Annie Award winners since 2000

And finally, I’ve checked the list of the Annie Awards’ Best Animated Feature winners since the year 2000:

Pixar / Disney wins:

  • Toy Story 2, 2000.
  • Finding Nemo, 2003 (DreamWorks wasn’t in the running).
  • The Incredibles, 2004.
  • Cars, 2006.
  • Ratatouille, 2007.
  • Up, 2009 (DreamWorks wasn’t in the running; Monsters vs. Aliens wasn’t exactly a major critical hit, with a mere 59 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics).

DreamWorks Animation wins:

  • Shrek, 2001.
  • Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, 2005.
  • Kung Fu Panda, 2008.
  • How to Train Your Dragon, 2010.

Other Annie Award wins:

  • Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away, 2002.

To date, six 21st-century Pixar / Disney productions have won Annie Awards; that’s a little less than half of the total. Two of these times DreamWorks Animation wasn’t in the running.

DreamWorks Animation has won four times – that’s nearly a third of the total – two of which in the last three years.

DreamWorks Animation How to Train Your Dragon Annie Awards controversyDreamWorks Animation ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ with Chief Stoick (Gerard Butler): Annie Awards controversy.

DreamWorks Animation feature ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ sweeps controversial Annie Awards

The Annie Awards-DreamWorks Animation marriage has been unofficially consummated. Directed by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, the DreamWorks / Paramount animated feature How to Train Your Dragon swept the 2011 Annie Awards on Feb. 5, winning 10 trophies, including Best Animated Film. (Scroll down to check out the full list of Annie Award winners and nominees in the film and television categories.)

In August 2010, Disney / Pixar withdrew from the International Animated Film Association (IAFA), which selects the Annie Award nominees and winners, because of its voting regulations. They asserted that DreamWorks Animation personnel are allowed to dominate IAFA’s ranks.

‘Toy Story 3’ nominated for a mere 3 Annie Awards

How to Train Your Dragon had been up for 15 Annies. In fact, the film won in every single category for which it was nominated, as it was a double contender in several instances – and a triple nominee for Best Character Animation in a Feature Production.

On the other hand, Pixar’s Lee Unkrich-directed Toy Story 3, last year’s most successful animated feature both among filmgoers and film critics, was nominated for only three Annies.

Faring even more modestly, Disney’s Tangled, directed by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard and featuring the voices of Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi, landed two nods.

Neither film won any Annie Awards.

For comparison’s sake, another DreamWorks Animation entry, Megamind, was shortlisted in six categories.

Pixar vs. DreamWorks Animation replay

Two years ago, DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda swept the Annie Awards, whereas Pixar’s much better-received WALL-E, winner of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s award for Best Picture of 2008, went home empty-handed.

Needless to say, 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 International Animated Film 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 Jacques Tati-based The Illusionist.

Guillermo del Toro presented the 2011 Best Animated Feature Annie. See below the full list of 2011 Annie Awards’ winners and nominees in the film and television categories.

Toy Story 3 Buzz Lightyear Woody Annie Award-less Pixar blockbuster‘Toy Story 3’ with Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and Woody (Tom Hanks): Annie Award-less Pixar blockbuster.

2011 Annie Awards winners and nominations

FEATURE FILMS

Best Animated Feature
Despicable Me.
* How to Train Your Dragon.
Tangled.
The Illusionist.
Toy Story 3.

Best Animated Short Subject
Coyote Fallsn.
* Day & Night.
Enrique Wrecks the World.
The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger.
The Renter.

Animated Effects in an Animated Production
Andrew Young Kim for Shrek Forever After.
* Jason Mayer for How to Train Your Dragon.
Brett Miller for How to Train Your Dragon.
Sebastian Quessy for Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.
Kryzstof Rost for Megamind.

Character Animation in a Feature Production
Mark Donald for Megamind.
Anthony Hodgson for Megamind.
* Gabe Hordos for How to Train Your Dragon.
Jakob Hjort Jensen for How to Train Your Dragon.
David Torres for How To Train Your Dragon.

Directing in a Feature Production
Sylvain Chomet for The Illusionist.
Pierre Coffin for Despicable Me.
Mamoru Hosoda for Summer Wars.
* Chris Sanders. Dean DeBlois for How To Train Your Dragon.
Lee Unkrich for Toy Story 3.

Voice Acting in a Feature Production
* Jay Baruchel as Hiccup for How To Train Your Dragon.
Gerard Butler as Stoick for How To Train Your Dragon.
Steve Carell as Gru for Despicable Me.
Cameron Diaz as Fiona for Shrek Forever After.
Geoffrey Rush as Ezylryb for Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.

Writing in a Feature Production
Michael Arndt for Toy Story 3.
Sylvain Chomet for The Illusionist.
* William Davies. Dean DeBlois. Chris Sanders for How to Train Your Dragon.
Dan Fogelman for Tangled.
Alan J. Schoolcraft. Brent Simons for Megamind.

Alice in Wonderland Cheshire Cat Tim Burton blockbusterAlice in Wonderland’: Cheshire Cat in Tim Burton’s blockbuster.

Best Character Design in an Animated Feature Production
Sylvain Chomet for The Illusionist.
Carter Goodrich for Despicable Me.
Timothy Lamberson for Megamind.
* Nicolas Marlet for How to Train Your Dragon.

Character Animation in a Live Action Production
Quentin Miles for Clash of the Titans.
* Ryan Page for Alice in Wonderland.

Storyboarding in a Feature Production
Alessandro Carloni for How To Train Your Dragon.
Paul Fisher for Shrek Forever After.
* Tom Owens for How To Train Your Dragon.
Catherine Yuh Rader for Megamind.

Production Design in a Feature Production
Yarrow Cheney for Despicable Me.
Eric Guillon for Despicable Me.
Dan Hee Ryu for Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.
* Pierre Olivier Vincent for How To Train Your Dragon.
Peter Zaslav for Shrek Forever After.

Music in a Feature Production
Sylvain Chomet for The Illusionist.
David Hirschfelder for Legend of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.
* John Powell for How to Train Your Dragon.
Harry Gregson-Williams for Shrek Forever After.
Pharrell Williams. Heitor Pereira for Despicable Me.

Kung Fu Panda Holiday Annie Awards TV winner‘Kung Fu Panda Holiday’: Annie Awards’ TV winner.

TELEVISION

Best Animated Television Production
Futurama.
* Kung Fu Panda Holiday.
Scared Shrekless.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars “Arc Troopers”.
The Simpsons.

Best Animated Television Production for Children
Adventure Time.
Cloudbread.
Fanboy & Chum Chum.
Regular Show.
* SpongeBob SquarePants.

Character Animation in a Television Production
Nicolas A. Chauvelot for Scared Shrekless.
Savelon Forrest for Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III.
Elizabeth Havetine for Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III.
* David Pate for Kung Fu Panda Holiday.
Nideep Varghese for Scared Shrekless.

Character Design in a Television Production
Andy Bialk for The Ricky Gervais Show.
Stephan DeStefano for Sym-Bionic Titan.
* Ernie Gilbert for T.U.F.F. Puppy.
Gordon Hammond for T.U.F.F. Puppy.
Steve Lam for Fanboy & Chum Chum.

Directing in a Television Production
Bob Anderson for The Simpsons.
Peter Chung for Firebreather.
Duke Johnson for Frankenhole: Humanitas.
* Tim Johnson for Kung Fu Panda Holiday.
Gary Trousdale for Scared Shrekless.

Music in a Television Production
J. Walter Hawkes for The Wonder Pets!.
Henry Jackman. Hans Zimmer. John Powell for Kung Fu Panda Holiday.
Tim Long. Alf Clausen. Bret McKenzie. Jemaine Clement for The Simpsons: Elementary School Musical.
Shawn Patterson for Robot Chicken’s DP Christmas Special.
* Jeremy Wakefield. Sage Guyton. Nick Carr. Tuck Tucker for SpongeBob SquarePants.

Production Design in a Television Production
Alan Bodner for Neighbors From Hell.
Barry Jackson for Firebreather.
Pete Oswald for Doubtsourcing.
* Richie Sacilioc for Kung Fu Panda Holiday.
Scott Wills for Sym-Bionic Titan.

Storyboarding in a Television Production
Sean Bishop for Scared Shrekless.
* Fred Gonzales for T.U.F.F. Puppy.
Tom Owens for Kung Fu Panda Holiday.
Dave Thomas for Fairly OddParents.

Voice Acting in a Television Production
Jeff Bennett as The Necronomicon for Fanboy & Chum Chum.
Corey Burton as Baron Papanoida for Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Nika Futterman as Asajj Ventress for Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Mike Henry as Cleveland Brown for The Cleveland Show.
* James Hong as Mr. Ping for Kung Fu Panda Holiday.

Writing in a Television Production
Daniel Arkin for Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Heroes on Both Sides.
Jon Colton Barry. Piero Piluso for Phineas. Ferb: Nerds of a Feather.
* Geoff Johns. Matthew Beans. Zeb Wells. Hugh Sterbakov. Matthew Senreich. Breckin Meyer. Seth Green. Mike Fasolo. Douglas Goldstein. Tom Root. Dan Milano. Kevin Shinick. Hugh Davidson for Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III.
Billy Kimball. Ian Maxtone-Graham for The Simpsons: Stealing First Base.
Michael Rowe for Futurama.

JURIED AWARDS

Winsor McCay Award
Brad Bird. Eric Goldberg. Matt Groening.

June Foray Award
Ross Iwamoto.

Ub Iwerks Award
Autodesk.

Special Achievement
Don Hahn’s Waking Sleeping Beauty.

How to Train Your Dragon image: DreamWorks Animation / Paramount.

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland Cheshire Cat image: Walt Disney Studios.

Kung Fu Panda Holiday image: DreamWorks Animation.

Image of Woody and Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story 3: Disney / Pixar.

Annie Awards official website.

Annie Award winner How to Train Your Dragon image: DreamWorks Animation / Paramount.

Annie Award winner Cars movie image: Pixar / Walt Disney Studios.

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3 comments

Nathan Donarum -

I think you were actually right on the money.

The problem here is that, as far as I know, anyone who buys membership into the International Animated Film Association can vote. And back when WALL-E lost, it was alleged that DreamWorks had bought membership status for most of its staff, resulting in a sweep for Kung-Fu Panda, despite WALL-E’s critical and commercial success. It must be noted that WALL-E’s success was such that there was even calls for it to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars that year, and its lack of a nomination was one of the reasons the rules were changed and the following year Up was nominated for Best Picture.

It must also be noted that the year Up won Best Film at the Annie’s, Dreamworks had no nominee. Yet the following year, when DreamWorks has How To Train Your Dragon nominated, it sweeps while Toy Story 3 is completely shut out. This is exactly what happened with WALL-E/Kung-Fu Panda.

If someone wants to contend that DreamWorks and the Annies are not “married”, so to speak, they’re going to have to come up with a better argument than, “Pixar has won more times”. The problems with the Annies have arisen in RECENT years. Furthermore, as far as I’m aware, Disney/Pixar don’t attend the Annies anymore, after the whole WALL-E debacle. If Annie feels that Disney/Pixar is shafting them, they have every reason to just give them a metaphorical finger and not only NOT nominate their films for deserved awards, but not AWARD their films with such.

All I’m saying is, you were right on the money, Steve.

Reply
SM -

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…

Reply
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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