Clean sweep for ‘Dragon’ at Annie Awards

Posted by · 5:20 am · February 6th, 2011

(Sorry we’re a bit late getting to this — Kris had more exciting plans for the evening and I like to sleep sometimes.)

It’s a shame one can’t talk about “How to Train Your Dragon”‘s success at the Annie Awards without dragging politics into it. There are those of us who think it legitimately deserves to beat “Toy Story 3” on its own merits, and the sense of entitlement that comes from many of the protests on Pixar’s behalf isn’t appealing.

But as when DreamWorks’s “Kung Fu Panda” upended “WALL-E” at the awards two years ago, there’s no way not to view this, to a large extent, as an anti-Pixar vote. If you’re not aware of the behind-the-scenes drama, this is it in a nutshell: last summer, Disney and Pixar withdrew from the International Animation Film Society-Hollywood, which organizes the awards, in protest at the voting procedures that enabled that aforementioned 2008 upset. (That Disney/Pixar had still taken the top prize in 13 out of 18 years, including last year’s win for “Up,” didn’t make them any less huffy.)

So this year’s scattering of nominations for “Toy Story 3” and “Tangled” were strictly for show: this was always going to be a DreamWorks night, and indeed, “Dragon” triumphed in every single one of the animated feature categories. Pixar did, however, triumph in the Animated Short category — ironically, the category it could well lose on Oscar night.

Anyway, I hope people can express their annoyance at this industry kerfuffle without knocking “How to Train Your Dragon,” a lovely film and a credible victor. (Meanwhile, I’m resigned to a New York Film Critics’ Circle award being the ceiling for my own favorite film, animated or otherwise, of 2010.)

Full list of film winners t The Circuit.

[Image: DreamWorks Animation]

→ 25 Comments Tags: , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

25 responses so far

  • 1 2-06-2011 at 5:43 am

    Someone said...

    Nothing can change the fact that HTTYD simply sucks and can’t be compared to TS3.

  • 2 2-06-2011 at 6:01 am

    Greg Y said...

    Amen to Lodge. I thought HTTYD was well crafted, damn fine in its technical aspects (esp. the lovely score which I hope wins the Oscar) and managed to have a decent script. For an animated film about a boy and a dragon, it was surprisingly moving, managing to avoid cheese (most of the way, anyway) while exploring the central theme of friendship gloriously. The ending is pitch-perfect as well. I do think it’s better than Toy Story 3, which is only able to draw upon its full strength in the very last scene. (Incidentally, the incinerator scne felt forced and very clichéd to me, though I know I’m in the minority on this.) TS3 is still a very good film though.

    Although it has to be said that Panda winning Wall-E was, in my opinion, a mistake. For me Wall-E was the best movie of 2008, managing to evoke the beauty and wonder of the great reaches of outer space. Not since 2001 has a movie done that quite as effectively, I think: so many movies utilizing space as a setting nowadays fail to fully express how simultaneously moving and lonely space (and its silence is). KFP was a decent, interesting animated family flick and all but nowhere near the greatness that Wall-E was.

  • 3 2-06-2011 at 6:28 am

    Andrej said...

    If anything I’m glad ‘Dragon’ had its night to celebrate, even if it’s at the expense of Pixar’s not participating at all in the process. It’s my favourite film from last year.

  • 4 2-06-2011 at 6:43 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Someone: You may want to revise your definition of “fact.”

  • 5 2-06-2011 at 7:36 am

    JJ1 said...

    I, too, am glad for Dragon’s “night”, because that’s where it will most likely stop.

    Any other year, I think Hiccup would have had Oscar firmly clenched in his tannons.

  • 6 2-06-2011 at 7:57 am

    RyanT said...

    Isn’t Pixar doing Cars 2 this year? I bet the other animated studios are gearing up. If they don’t take advantage of that, they are ridiculous.

  • 7 2-06-2011 at 8:06 am

    Vn said...

    I agree that ‘How to train your dragon’ is at the same level as ‘Toy Story 3’. I like it most. But I respect both choices as legitimate winners. The industry seems to really like ‘Toy Story 3’ most and that’s fair. It’s a very very good movie as ‘Dragon’ is.

    I wouldn’t jugde if it was the Academy giving the Oscar to ‘Dragon’ but the ASIFA is clearely biased against Disney/Pixar. And that is the problem. This year they really have a reason to vote for Dreamworks but we never know if this award comes from their taste or from their credir account. And that’s why Annies are not credible anymore.

    We do not complain to ‘How to train your dragon’ fans but to the ASIFA members for picking a movie they’ve been told to pick. I had exactly the same feeling if the situation was the opposite. So in the end these awards means nothing in terms of predicting Oscars and what is worst, it means nothing to the creators of ‘How to train your dragon’ because “their peers” are clearly not picking them between a fair competition.

    The animated branch will decide at the Oscars in the end. ‘How to train your dragon’ HAS A SHOT. We don’t know what are they liking. ‘Toy Story 3’ was up for Best Piciture because all the Academy voted for it to happen but this is just the animated branch vote. It can win but I don’t think it’ll happen. ‘Toy Story 3’ is also an amazing movie.

    I wonder if anyone is understimating ‘How to train your dragon’ in the other cathegory. With a probable King’s Speech/Social Network/Inception average scores split maybe the Academy can possibily listen to the film music fans and award this movie with this other Oscar. On the ballot it’s pretty an interesting choice for the voter. We’ve seen this in the past (The red violin, nobody saw the movie, people liked the title on the ballot, it won)

  • 8 2-06-2011 at 8:13 am

    Ky said...

    HTTYD is the better film, I`m happy it won.

  • 9 2-06-2011 at 8:15 am

    JJ1 said...

    I’m sorry, don’t all of AMPAS vote for Best Animated? Maybe I’m wrong. If it’s just “animators” voting – then yeah – I’d say Dragon has a big shot. I think it’s more loved than we even think.

    But I thought it was all AMPAS, hence TS3’s fairly obvious win.

  • 10 2-06-2011 at 8:17 am

    Graysmith said...

    There’s no need to apologize for not putting these up earlier, it’s not like these Dreamworks Internal Company Awards are really newsworthy anyway.

  • 11 2-06-2011 at 8:20 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    The animated branch will decide at the Oscars in the end.

    No, the general Academy membership will. The animated branch only determines the nominees.

    Graysmith, from the number of emails and tweets I had from readers alerting me to the news, you’d think I’d missed Oscar night itself.

  • 12 2-06-2011 at 8:34 am

    Graysmith said...

    They must be grossly misinformed about the significance of these awards then. Some years back, yes, absolutely. Now, not so much. It’s barely even worthy of being in the daily news round-up, let alone it’s own post.

  • 13 2-06-2011 at 9:52 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    It’s the season. People are understandably interested. No need to get snippy.

  • 14 2-06-2011 at 9:52 am

    m1 said...

    “The ending is pitch perfect as well.”

    Yes, because a movie should end exactly the same way as it begins (eye roll).

  • 15 2-06-2011 at 10:20 am

    Paul Outlaw said...

    These awards are funny, in a sad sort of way, especially so this year.

  • 16 2-06-2011 at 10:52 am

    Jack said...

    At the risk of sounding like a Pixar fanatic, I really do think that these results are ridiculous. “How to Train Your Dragon” certainly deserves all of the technical/animation awards it got–it is a beautiful movie–but there’s no way that it deserves, for example, Best Writing: It’s by no means bad–“How to Train Your Dragon” is a pretty decent movie–but the plot is totally cliched, the so-called dramatic depth is nothing but a bunch of shallow platitudes, and the characters (with the exception of Hiccup and the dragon) are one-note, bland, and totally forgettable. I just don’t understand how that’s more worthy than “Toy Story 3” or “The Illusionist,” both of which had incredible emotional and thematic depth and insight, and whose characters–even those who appeared in only a few scenes–were incredibly detailed and memorable.

    (By the way, Guy, I thought you should know that I finally saw the “The Illusionist” last night and was absolutely blown away by it. The last five minutes or so is some of the most devastating stuff I’ve seen in a movie for years. I’m glad it has a critic as elegant and thoughtful as you sticking up for it.)

  • 17 2-06-2011 at 11:43 am

    SJG said...

    I think it’s a shame that the Annie’s had to go and ruin things a couple years ago, because I suspect that HTTYD would actually do well at their award ceremony in a real, head-to-head competition with TS3 that might have given them the momentum to pull an upset at the Oscars, which they frankly deserve. TS3 is extremely overrated, and HTTYD is the much better movie.

    But then again, I thought Kung Fu Panda was a better movie than Wall-E, and I was blissfully unaware for a long time that its sweep of the Annie’s a few years ago was more political than deserving. Sometimes I do wonder whether animators didn’t just actually prefer KFP to Wall-E, but that’s probably not the case.

    As I said, though, the shame in all this is that HTTYD should be a much more credible contender for the Oscar, and part of the reason it won’t be treated that way is because of this kerfuffle involving the Annie’s.

  • 18 2-06-2011 at 1:29 pm

    whatlobster said...

    While I agree that the politics behind the Annies are ridiculous, let’s not discount HTTYD’s success. It’s a beautiful film with thrilling animations and a heartwarming story. The characterizations of the central characters (Hiccup, Toothless) are especially well-done. It’s not far behind Toy Story 3 in terms of quality, the gap is quite minuscule in my opinion. I’m glad they won the Annies, as I will be when TS3 picks up the statue on Oscar night.

  • 19 2-06-2011 at 3:51 pm

    Anna said...

    I find it odd that the Disney people were so repulsed by the Annies because of that Kung Fu Panda debacle, even though a few years earlier, they even awarded Cars.

  • 20 2-06-2011 at 4:17 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Anna: As I say in the article, Disney/Pixar has triumphed at the Annies in 13 out of 18 years. The tantrum strikes me as unnecessary.

  • 21 2-06-2011 at 5:45 pm

    Greg said...

    @m1: I wasn’t referring to that, although it’s a decent touch in my opinion. I was more referring to the injury Hiccup sustained. It’s very unusual to see the lead protagonist injured in such manner in an animated family film to boot, but it’s a great way to end the film.

  • 22 2-06-2011 at 11:23 pm

    Someone said...

    Could HTTYD loose considering the fact that Disney/Pixar left Annies? IMO this award is worthless. I’ve seen HTTYD finally and it’s true that this is a very good movie (better than almost everything that Dreamworks did till today) but it’s still worse than TS3, which is far more innovative when you talk about story, building of characters. It’s more funny and moving. It’s better directed. It’s better in almost every way – so I would be REALLY disappointed if it lost the Oscar.

  • 23 2-06-2011 at 11:54 pm

    Luke said...

    If Pixar was so upset over the KPF wins two years ago, why didn’t they pull out of the Annies LAST year? Just a thought…

  • 24 2-07-2011 at 1:42 am

    Someone said...

    By the way – if Wikipedia tells the truth, Disney and Pixar won only 12 times in the last 19 years (not 13 as you claim), 7 of those movies were made by Pixar and 5 were hand-drawn, classical Disney movies, 3 times Dreamworks won (including this year “HTTYD”), once -Aardman (“Wallace and Gromit”), once – Ghibli (“Spirited Away”), once Warner Bros. (“The Iron Giant”) and once Turner Feature Animation (“Cats Don’t Dance”).

  • 25 2-07-2011 at 3:37 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Someone: I was counting Spirited Away since it was distributed by Disney. Either way, the point stands — they’ve dominated.