The Annie Awards were viewable via streaming video over LiveStream on January 31, 2015.
Lauren Faust made a point of tweeting about it until made to stop. Fight the power, Lauren! My thoughts follow a recap of some of the winners.
Congratulations to big winner of the night, How To Train Your Dragon 2, which took home six Annies, including:
Best Animated Feature
Outstanding Achievement, Character Animation in a Feature production: Fabio Lignini
Outstanding Achievement, Directing in an Animated Feature Production: Dean DeBlois
Outstanding Achievement, Music in an Animated Feature Production John Powerll, Jonsi
Outstanding Achievement, Storyboarding, in an Animated Feature Production, Truong “Tron” Son Mai
Outstanding Achievement, Editorial, in an Animated Feature Production, John K. Carr
Congratulations to Aardman Animations for:
Flight of the Stories, Best Animated TV/Broadcast Commercial
Congratulations to Disney Television Animation for:
Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production for Children: Gravity Falls —Check out our Throwing Popcorn review
Outstanding Achievement in Character Animation in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production: Justin Nichols, Wander Over Yonder —Check out our Throwing Popcorn review
Outstanding Achievement, Character Design in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production: Benjamin Balistreri, Wander Over Yonder
Outstanding Achievement, Directing an Animated TV/Broadcast Production: Aaron Springer, Mickey Mouse
Outstanding Achievement, Music, in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production: Christopher Willis, Mickey Mouse
Outstanding Achievement, Production Design in an Animated TV/Broadcast production: Narina Sokolova, Mickey Shorts
Outstanding Achievement, Voice Acting in an Animated TV/Broadcast Animation: Bill Farmer as Goofy and Grandma, Mickey Mouse
Outstanding Achievement, Writing, in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production: Darrick Bachman, Mickey Mouse
Outstanding Achievement, Editorial, in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production: Ilya Owens, Mickey Mouse
Kudos to Disney for actually making the bold choice of going old school with the Mickey Mouse shorts that won them so many awards, and the equally brave choice of actually making a cartoon set in Paris with all the voice acting in French!
Congratulations to Walt Disney Animation Studios for:
Best Animated Short Subject: Feast
Michael Kaschalk, Peter DeMund, David Hutchins, Henrik Falt, John Kosnik – Big Hero 6 —Check out our Reel Geek Girl review
Congratulations to Reel FX Creative Studios/20th Century Fox and Mexopolis:
Outstanding Achievement, Character Design in an Animated Feature Production: Jorge R. Gutierrez, The Book of Life —Check out our Reel Geek Girl review]
Congratulations to Focus Features/Laika for:
Oustanding Achievement, Production Design in an Animated Feature Production: Paul Lasaine, Tom McClure and August Hall – The Boxtrolls
Outstanding Achievement, Voice Acting, in an Animated Feature Production: Sir Ben Kingsley as Archibald Snatcher – The Boxtrolls
Congratulations to Nickelodeon for:
Outstanding Achievement, Storyboarding, in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production: Joaquim Dos Santos – The Legend of Korra
Kudos to the Korra creative team on Korra for weathering the vagaries of Nickelodeon’s capricious schedule and platform changes, only to throw a pro-LGBTQ pitch right past the plate in the season finale.
You can see the full list of winners, here.
The Annies are clearly not held in the same esteem as the Oscars, the Emmys, or the Golden Globes; the ceremony was LiveStreamed.
Animation may be honoring its own, but it’s clearly only taken so seriously by Hollywood, even when the live action blockbusters depend on the work of the Animation studios to augment and make believable some of the scenes.
The other patterns I noticed perusing the list of winners are the same old thing we’re seeing in other Awards ceremonies. The nominees and winners are still overwhelmingly male, and non-whites are pretty much ignored or, at best, thrown a bone unless they were part of a bigger creative team.
I understand that awards ceremonies are supposed to be all about the feel good and the warm fuzzies. I also understand that award ceremonies are also about prestige: which studios, now with shiny awards on their shelves, get to approach the big wheeler dealers of Hollywood for money to make more beautiful dreamworlds for viewers to enjoy.
Annie Awards do not, unfortunately, carry anywhere near the klout that Oscars do. Gutierrez’ last venture to win an Annie was his Nickelodeon tv show, El Tigre, which was cancelled after two seasons despite winning the award. The show was mischievous kid comedy, all set in Mexico, with a Mexican hero. His current win, The Book Of Life, is also set in Mexican with Mexican heroes and villains. It was not supported by the studio; it was barely marketed; begging the question whether Gutierrez now having multiple Annies with his name will get him any more weight to throw around with Hollywood.
We still live in a world where Cartoon Network is willing to yank a show with brilliant writing and animation because the audiences that follow it strongest are women, and women won’t buy toys. Cartoon Network hasn’t quite gotten the memo that while women do in many cases buy toys, they also buy other merch: phone cases, T-shirts, figures, statues, bags, dolls. Nor has Nickelodeon. Avatar: The Last Airbender got a toy line. Legend of Korra did not.
We still live in a world where it is enough to start a “save the show” campaign when Cartoon Network abruptly yanks Steven Universe (which got robbed — robbed, I tell you!) reruns from its lineup, because viewers know a pattern when they see one, and pulling reruns is historically a bad sign for any show it happens to. We’re still seeing animated series that were once a full 30 minutes chopped to a single 11 minute cartoon and the previous week’s 11 minute cartoon.
So while it is nice to see the animation community get internal appreciation, respect, and accolades, none of the problematic elements encountered in the winners or nominees shows and movies are being addressed. Even as we look forward to new shows like Star vs. The Forces of Evil from Disney Television Animation, and alternative viewing like Hulu and Netflix, which means more places to nominate from next year; that’s something we, as viewers, reviewers, and appreciators of the medium need address, by keeping the heat on. Call out the studios when we see problematic elements about portrayal of marginalized or using alternate lifestyles as comedy fodder. By the same token, though, them what they’re doing right. And vote with your wallet! Ask for merchandise if you don’t see something you want. No shirts in woman sizes? No shirts in plus sizes? Ask! The studios, PR teams and stores will never know unless we say something. Fanmade works are amazing for the love and effort put to them, but the studios care about dollars, about full seats, and DVD sales.
If we don’t, no matter who wins, the viewers are always going to come up on the short end, because the expense of animation never quite is recouped from the Studio’s point of view by audience enthusiasm alone.