Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Annies and Oscars, 2022 edition

It was a good day for animation.

This weekend was the 49th annual Annie Awards, a celebration of animation's highest honors presented by ASIFA Hollywood. And it was also the day that animation luminary Ron Diamond hosted a private screening of the Oscar nominated animated short films -- and members of ASIFA were invited!

Given the restrictions that the DIA's Detroit Film Theater were still imposing on those of us who couldn't safely get the jab or had natural immunity, making my yearly trip to the DFT to spend a day appreciating some art before watching the Academy Award nominated short animated film program, well, it wasn't going to happen.

Fortunately, it was Ron Diamond to the rescue! Ron runs the Animation Show of Shows, a yearly curated program of animated short films that gets shown at arthouse theaters and colleges all across the country. So, this year he had a program dedicated entirely to the Oscar animated shorts. And as a member of ASIFA Central, I was sent a code to their website where Ron opened with a discussion about the awards and the films we'd be watching, followed by the program, and bookended with live interviews with some of the filmmakers. It was a good start to the day!

Later that evening, the Annies were streamed on their website. Everything was pretty much pre-recorded since they wouldn't be live streaming from the Royce Theater again this year. But, it is what it is. At least we were able to enjoy the show online rather than not at all. If you didn't get the chance to watch the show during the first broadcast(?), it can be viewed on the online in its entirety at: Annie Awards - Watch It Live and you can also download this year's program book on the same page.

And, thus, my yearly 'random thoughts I had while watching the show':

  • Still loving that zoetrope animation that opens the ceremony!
  • Best Short Subject: Night Bus had my vote to win. Saw it at the Ottawa fest... really quirky film that I found myself getting into for both the technical production and the story.
  • "2021 was a continuation of the ongoing pandemic stress, yet animation continued striving and successfully leading the entertainment industry. More animation is being produced today than ever before and that bodes well for all of us." Very encouraging words from ASIFA Hollywood President Sue Shakespeare.
  • June Foray Award: Was very pleased to see Renzo and Sayoko Kinoshita get some recognition for all their work in the field of animation.
  • Best Production Design in an Animated TV/Media Production:  Arcane!!!!! A good start for one of the best animated series I've ever seen.
  • Best production Design in an Animated Feature Production: Y'know, I was really hoping for Belle.
  • I like how the awards are moving at more of a steady clip since we don't have to watch people walk down to the front of the Royce theater and accept their award--and give an extended speech before being played off by music--but the virtual format does seem to lack a little luster and the pomp & circumstance of the live awards ceremony.
  • Character Design in an Animated TV/Media Production: Arcane again! So happy to see them pull this award. So rarely do the films I love get recognition, I'm gonna start crying any minute now. :)
  • Glenn Vlippu received the Special Achievement award--and is very well deserved.
  • Really liked how Dina Sherman was in a different location every time when she announced the next award and its presenters. Seemed a little odd at first, but it really grows on you.
  • Character Animation in an Animated Television/Media Production: goes to Arcane!!!!! Wow. Just... wow! Wouldn't it be awesome if Arcane took home every award in all nine categories it was nominated in?
  • Hrm. Didn't realize that the Annies started back in '72. Knew June Foray was the driving force behind the awards, but 1972? Hrm. I'm sure I'd heard that before, it just never registered with me.
  • Animated Effects in an Animated Television/Media Production... Arcane wins again. My jaw is on the floor!
  • Yeah, I really need to watch the Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf animated feature and the Castlevania series this year... :o
  • Animated Effects in an Animated Feature Production... Please oh please let it be Belle... aaaand... nope. :(
  • Editing in an Animated TV/Media Production: What If...Ultron Won... My favorite episode from my favorite show in the Marvel Cinematic Universe -- So freaking awesome!!!
  • One of the Winsor McKay Awards goes to Lillian Schwartz -- Wow. So many years later, so many advances in computer imagery, and her work still holds up. The mark of a master filmmaker.
  • Another to Toshio Suzuki. Ah, the Annie Awards, one of the few awards shows where Anime actually gets some of the respect they deserve for their contributions to the art form. Toshio Suzuki. A titan in the industry but, like Isao Takahata before him, spends more time recognizing the people who work for and with him at Studio Ghibli. Man, such a class act.
  • And the third to Ruben Akino whose body of work embodies so many of the pivotal films from those years when I was studying to become an animator. Watching those clips, it was like I was sitting in the theater just off campus during college and grad school all over again.
  • Voice Acting in an Animated Television/Media Production: goes to Ella Purnell - HELL YES!!!!! Let's hear it for Jinx! Arcane is set to sweep the awards after all! Gonna have to watch the whole series again while I still have a little time before the Spring season of Anime is here.
  • Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production: was really hoping for a win for John Leguizamo, easily one of the best character actors of our generation. I can't think of a single film of his that I've seen, live action or animated, where he didn't bring his 'A' game and produced a stellar performance.
  • Writing in an Animated Television/Media Production: Another well deserved award for Arcane!!!
  • Writing in an Animated Feature Production: Nope. Still hoping that Belle would get 'some' love during the ceremony. But, there's still the best Indie Feature.
  • In Memoriam... always a tough segment to watch. Brenda Banks, Giannalberto Bendazzi, Jacques Drouin, we lost some real heavy hitters this past year and the community is diminished because of it.
  • Wow!! They got Momoro Hosoda (the director of Belle) to present an awards category. Very cool. Not "Belle wins some awards" cool, but still, a nice consolation.
  • Best General Audience Animated Television/Media Production: Hell yes!!! Another richly deserved award for Arcane!!!
  • Tomm Moore is presenting for the Annies. Very cool. I still have my drawing/watercolor of Pangur Bán that he sent me back when I purchased the PAL version of Brendan and the Secret of Kells and had it shipped in from Ireland (this was before GKIDS picked it up for North American distribution). Think I'll get it framed this year.
  • Storyboarding in an Animated Television/Media Production: Goes to Arcane! One more award and Arcane sweeps the Annies!!!!
  • Directing in an Animated Television/Media Production: AND ARCANE SWEEPS EVERY CATEGORY THAT THEY'RE IN!!! Would've also been cool to see Love Death + Robots or Invincible get some love, but I'm so blown away about all the accolades for Arcane. It's so well deserved. And so refreshing to see it happen.
  • So great to see John Leguizamo back at the Annies.
  • Best Indie Feature: And no love for Belle. What a disappointment. A somber reminder that my tastes are usually way different than most of the viewing public and that we've got a long way to go before Japanese animation fully receives the recognition that it rightfully deserves. At least the DVD comes out in May. I'll get to watch it again and again in the privacy of my home theater.
My 'Pangur Bán' watercolor by
Tomm More of Cartoon Saloon

* * *