Our post announcing the nominees for the 2010 Annie Awards generated a lot of controversy with people alternately pointing fingers at ASIFA and Disney for the latter company’s decision to withdraw its employees from this year’s individual achievement categories. Mark Walton, a former Annie nominee himself, took a tempered position in support of ASIFA (mostly) and made some good observations.
My two or three cents:
– I am getting really tired of hearing, again and again, that the fact that “Kung Fu Panda” won for Best Animated Feature (and several other categories) is PROOF that the Annie voting system isn’t fair, that the DreamWorks voting block was “bought”. I liked “Wall — E”, but I thought that “Kung Fu Panda” was an amazing film on just about every level (story, acting, animation, character design, art direction, etc., etc.), and totally deserving of the awards it got, and I didn’t work for DreamWorks. A lot of people in the animation community that I know ALSO really liked KFP. I knew many people at DISNEY who, rightly or wrongly, liked KFP better than “Wall-E”. A LOT of people I know thought KFP was one of the best animated films they’d seen in years. It is not only really, REALLY insulting to the crew of KFP to assume that a majority of the voters couldn’t have possibly, HONESTLY preferred KFP, it’s kind of ridiculous, because:
– the voting process is completely anonymous. There is no way to be directly rewarded or punished by Jeffrey for voting for a DreamWorks project.
– Since Dreamworks started participating in the Annies, 6 of the 10 “Best Feature” awards have gone to Disney nominees, including last year’s “UP”, which anyone, regardless of artistic position, can vote on. DreamWorks has, to my knowledge, always paid for their staff to have ASIFA memberships. In that time, only 3 DreamWorks features have have won Best Feature.
– Disney put pressure on ASIFA to change the voting procedure so that only story people could vote on storyboarding, etc., and they did. You can argue whether or not this was a good idea, but who still thinks this is just hearsay? This is pretty common knowledge, guys. It is also worth noting that the nominating committees are made up of professionals, chosen from all different studios, that are sometimes not even ASIFA members.
– I agree that “Tangled” should have been better represented in the individual achievement catagories than it was — particularly in animation and character design, where it really stood out. We’ll never know for sure if it would have been nominated, let alone would have won, in any of those categories, but the fact that the movie WAS nominated in almost every general category it could have been, in spite of their snubbing of the Annies, makes me think Disney really shot themselves in the foot here. The only thing for we know for sure was that DreamWorks submitted reels for their employees, and Disney didn’t give them any competition.
Sometimes I really agree with the ASIFA winners, sometimes I don’t. I particularly don’t like how certain films from several studios tend to sweep all the categories they’re nominated for, including some that they were (IMHO) clearly not the best in, robbing other deserving contenders. (This sort of “robbery” happens ALL THE TIME in the academy awards — frankly, though I usually watch them, I am usually incensed at many of the winners and the deserving people who aren’t even nominated, as well as the almost perrenial tendency to award actors or directors one or several years AFTER they actually deserved to win — I think ASIFA’s choices give them at least as much credibility as the Academy, if not more) I don’t know why this happens. I can’t imagine any organization trying harder to be fair than ASIFA does, where you are actually forced to watch part or all of a nominated submission before you’re allowed to vote in a category — which the Academy does NOT require of its voters.
– Do you actually begrudge ASIFA for trying to get more credibility and attention drawn to the Annie’s? How exactly is this bad for the animation industry, or the people who work in it? You’d actually prefer that the only recognition paid to all of the people behind the scenes in this business would be to the directors of the 2 to 5 Best Animated Feature and Best Animated Short categories at the Oscars once a year? Or you think even that’s too much — you’d prefer that nobody in this business gets any recognition or hoopla for their talent or trouble? The oscars and annies might be flawed, but I think they’re both a LOT better than nothing.
The only change I’D really like to see is, when the inevitable live-action celebrity with a thriving career wins “Best Voice Performance” over the poor slobs who have nothing BUT their voice careers, and then doesn’t even bother to show up, because they couldn’t care less about the Annies, and the film’s producer accepts the award for them, trying to convince us how much that actor really appreciates the honorâ€¦well, the award should automatically go to the nearest runner-up that bothered to come to the awards (not that I’m biased or anything) ;)