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Geek It! Animation: Annie Awards 2015 Recap

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It is that exciting time of the year where fans, critics, artists and animators celebrate the best of the best in the industry. Film geeks may prefer the Oscars but nothing is better than the annual Annie Awards. Despite many artists and animators facing a difficult time within the industry at the moment, it is ceremonies like the 42nd Annie Awards that makes us stop and appreciate the animation industry and all of the people involved. Since we love animation here at CtrlGeekGirl, check out some of our thoughts on this year’s winners below! 

Click here for the full 42nd Annie Awards’ list of winners!


Best Animated Feature – How to Train Your Dragon 2

Big Hero 6 – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Cheatin’ – Plymptoons Studio

How to Train Your Dragon 2 – DreamWorks Animation SKG

Song of the Sea – GKIDS/Cartoon Saloon

The Book of Life – Reel FX Animation Studios/Twentieth Century Fox

The Boxtrolls – Focus Features/Laika

The LEGO Movie -Warner Bros. Pictures

The Tale of The Princess Kaguya – GKIDS/Studio Ghibli

Commentary: This year’s Best Animated Feature nominees have never been more diverse. Following the same footsteps as the Academy Awards, it is great to see small foreign traditional films being given the nods. This includes Studio Ghibli’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya and Cartoon Saloon’s Song of the Sea. And while Plymptoon’s Cheatin‘ is dark and not as family-friendly, we highly respect the Annie Awards’ decision to honour the feature as a nominee because it is not often that we see such artistic film being recognised in today’s society.

Just to spice up the contest, it was no surprise seeing the beautifully handmade production BoxTrolls, along with the ravishingly colourful Book of Life in the mix. And of course, they certainly did not forget some of this year’s most popular commercial films including How to Train a Dragon 2, Big Hero 6 and Lego Movie. Although we personally vouched for Big Hero 6 to win the big gong at the Annie Awards, How to Train A Dragon 2 was a well-deserved win thanks to its great story, animation and directing. Congratulations DreamWorks Animation!


 Best Animated Short Subject – Feast

  • Coda – And Maps And Plans Ltd.
  • Duet – Glen Keane Productions/ATAP
  • Feast – Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Me and My Moulton – Mikrofilm AS/National Film Board of Canada
  • Silent – Moonbot Studios
  • The Dam Keeper – Tonko House LLC
  • The Raven – Moonbot Studios
  • The Simpsons – “Michal Socha Couch Gag” – Gracie Films in Association with 20th Century Fox Television

Commentary: After Paperman’s success in 2012, Walt Disney is back with another animated short winner called ‘Feast‘.  Directed by Patrick Osbourne, Feast revolves around a Boston Terrier, Winston, who loves to eat junk food given by his owner, James. But when James develop a relationship with a waitress who makes him eat healthy food, Winston becomes upset and refuses to eat.

Much to Winston’s delight, things began to fall out between James and his girlfriend. But with James’ happiness on the line, what should Winston do? Feast is a delightful animated short that will entertain viewers of all ages. Besides putting the spotlight on the adorable Winston, this is ultimately a love story between Winston and his love for food. And although James and Winston share an unbreakable bond, Winston will do anything to make James happy, even if it sacrifices his own happiness. Feast is a must-see animated short!


 Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production For Children’s Audience – Gravity Falls

  • Adventure Time – Cartoon Network Studios
  • Gravity Falls – Disney Television Animation
  • Legend of Korra – Nickelodeon Animation Studio
  • Over The Garden Wall – Cartoon Network Studios
  • Wander Over Yonder – Disney Television Animation

Commentary: Beating out strong rivals at this year’s Annie Awards including commercial favourites Adventure Time and Legend of Korra, Gravity Falls is a surprising yet not-so-surprising winner. With the combination of visual and written storytelling, Gravity Falls is a strong reminder of Saturday cartoons back in the ’90s. Not only is the show clever and quirky, but it can also be somewhat sentimental at times which will no doubt attract a broad audience.


 Best Student Film – My Big Brother

  • After School – Junyi Xiao
  • Dead Over Heels – Jose Matheu
  • El Coyote – Javier Barboza
  • Frog’s Legs – Katie Tamboer
  • My Big Brother – Jason Rayner
  • Tiny Nomad – Toniko Pantoja

Commentary: In this two-minute animated short, Jason Rayner’s My Big Brother revolves around a young boy and his thoughts on having an older brother. Inspired by Roald Dahl’s BFG novel (1982), the protagonist’s big brother is not just biologically older but he is also physically big as well. Although there is a sense of sad bitterness in having an older brother, the main protagonist acknowledges that there is a positive side to it if you view the situation from a different perspective.

In this whimsical world that Rayner has created, he combines elements of the real and fantasy in a way that is believable to the audience. Using Maya and open source 3D animation suite ‘Blender’, My Big Brother looks technical in terms of the modelling and design but Rayner made sure to keep the overall look simplified just so it doesn’t override the storytelling at all. With a few achievements under his belt, we look forward to seeing more works from Rayner down the track.


 Outstanding Achievement, Animated Effects in an Animated Production – Big Hero 6

  • James Jackson, Lucas Janin, Tobin Jones, Baptiste Van Opstal, Jason Mayer – How to Train Your Dragon 2 – DreamWorks Animation SKG
  •  Michael Kaschalk, Peter DeMund, David Hutchins, Henrik Falt, John Kosnik – Big Hero 6 – Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Fangwei Lee, Krzysztof Rost, Jihyun Yoon, Robert Chen – Mr. Peabody & Sherman –DreamWorks Animation
  • Mitul Patel, Nicolas Delbecq, Santosh Khedkar, Yash Argawal – Penguins of Madagascar –DreamWorks Animation
  • Augusto Schillaci, Erich Turner, Bill Konersman, Chris Rasch, Joseph Burnette – The Book of Life – Reel FX Animation Studios/Twentieth Century Fox
  • Rick Sevy, Peter Vickery, Kent Estep, Peter Stuart, Ralph Procida – The Boxtrolls – Focus Features/Laika
  • Jayandera Danappal, Matt Ebb, Christian Epunan Hernandez, Danielle Brooks, Raphael Gadot – The LEGO Movie – Warner Bros. Pictures

 Commentary: Although it is a shame to see Walt Disney’s Big Hero 6 missing out on major awards to How To Train A Dragon 2, we firmly believe Big Hero 6 deserves to win visual and SFX awards the most. One look at its brilliant battle scenes or even a flight scene with Hiro and Baymax proves that they have spent a significant amount of time and storyboarding on these scenes. With its high-quality visuals and animation that is produced at its finest, we congratulate Walt Disney Animation on exceeding our expectations in creating the best animated superhero film yet. 


 Outstanding Achievement, Production Design in an Animated Feature Production – The Boxtrolls

  • David James, Ruben Perez, Priscilla Wong, Timothy Lamb & Alexandre Puvilland – Mr. Peabody & Sherman – DreamWorks Animation
  • Adrien Merigeau – Song of the Sea – GKIDS/Cartoon Saloon 
  • Grant Freckelton – The LEGO MovieWarner Bros. Pictures
  • Paul Lasaine, Tom McClure & August Hall – The Boxtrolls – Focus Features/Laika
  • Simon Varela & Paul Sullivan – The Book of Life – Reel FX Animation and Studios/Twentieth Century Fox

Commentary: Produced in 3D stop-motion, The Boxtrolls is an exquisite-looking film to look at. In today’s age where most animated features focus on either CGI or 2D animation, Laika has done a brilliant job in creating this fantastical world that may have been inspired by the looks of Coraline. Without a doubt, The Boxtrolls deserve to win the best production design, and we hope the general audience appreciates the labour-intensive effort that has gone towards this film.


Outstanding Achievement, Storyboarding in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production – Legend of Korra

  • Heiko Drengenberg – Disney Mickey Mouse – Disney Television Animation
  • Joaquim Dos Santos – Legend of Korra Nickelodeon
  • Nathaniel Villanueva & Douglas Lovelace – Star Wars Rebels – Lucasfilm, Ltd/Disney X D
  • Brad Ableson, Matthew Faughnan & Stephen Reis – The Simpsons – Gracie Films in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television
  • Louise Smythe – Toy Story That Time Forgot – Pixar Animation Studios
  • Mark Ackland – Wander Over Yonder – Disney Television Animation
  • Luke Weber, Alonso Ramirez Ramos, Neil Graf & Steve Heneveld – Gravity FallsDisney Television Animation

CommentaryBest-known for its visually striking production, high-quality writing, and its desire to constantly deliver challenging themes about the world and its people, The Legend of Korra is youth entertainment at its best. Never before have we seen a Western animated show that goes beyond the boundaries as it dares to subvert traditional conventions in storytelling — racially, sexually and politically.

Besides presenting a variety of captivating female characters to the audience, it was also special to see the series’ finale insinuating a same-sex relationship between two of its characters. The Legend of Korra has evidently gone further than any other work in children’s television, and we hope to see more brilliant works coming from Nickelodeon Animation Studio in years to come.


 Outstanding Achievement, Writing in an Animated Feature – The LEGO Movie

  • Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson & Jordan Roberts – Big Hero 6 – Walt Disney Animation Studios
  • Dean DeBlois –How to Train Your Dragon 2 – DreamWorks Animation SKG
  • Will Collins – Song of the Sea – GKIDS/Cartoon Saloon
  • Irena Brignull & Adam Pava – The Boxtrolls – Focus Features/Laika
  • Phil Lord & Christopher Miller – The LEGO MovieWarner Bros. Pictures

Commentary: The LEGO Movie … wins best writing in an animated feature? Personally, The LEGO Movie was a fun movie for all moviegoers out there — who can say no to Lego Batman and Superman? Although we believe that the film deserves more recognition for its CGI animation, The LEGO Movie is no winner especially when you compare it to the heart-warming stories offered by Big Hero 6 and How to Train a Dragon 2. An odd but interesting outcome ...

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