‘Dragon’ slays Annie Awards after Disney/Pixar withdrawal

With Pixar and Disney withdrawing from the Annie Awards in August, “Toy Story 3” and “Tangled” received no recognition from these kudos handed out on Saturday at UCLA’s Royce Hall. Between them, these two powerhouse pictures had managed only five write-in bids, all of which they lost.

Rather, DreamWork’s “How to Train Your Dragon” — which led with 15 nominations — was the big winner, taking 10 races, including best picture. It replicated the feat two years ago of another DreamWorks film, “Kung Fu Panda,” which won the same 10 awards while eventual Oscar champ “Wall-E” was shut out.

Beyond their best picture bids, “Toy Story 3” was in the hunt for best director (Lee Unkrich) and best screenplay (Michael Arndt) while “Tangled” also contends for best screenplay (Dan Fogelman). The extent of the rift was such that eight-time Oscar champ Alan Menken was snubbed for his “Tangled” score.

The best picture race was rounded out by Universal’s “Despicable Me” (seven bids) and Sony Picture Classic’s “The Illusionist” (five nods). The latter of those is in the three-way Oscar race for Best Animated Feature with “Toy Story 3” and “How to Train Your Dragon.”

DreamWorks product dominated the film categories with 28 of the 48 animated feature nominations. The studio was guaranteed to win character animation as “Dragon” had three of the noms while “Megamind” had the other two and storyboarding (“Dragon, “Megamind” and “Shrek Forever After” were the only contenders). It also had four of the five bids in animated effects and three of the five in voice acting.

DIsney and Pixar pulled out of these kudos citing concerns about the process. Indeed, admission to the Annies administering body — the International Animated Film Society — is open to anyone willing to pay the membership fee. The withdrawal of these toon titans came despite Pixar’s “Up” winning both best picture and director at last February’s awards. The nine-time nominee beat out the same lineup it went on to defeat at the Oscars — “Coraline” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “The Princess and the Frog” and “The Secret of Kells” — as well as “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.”

While current Disney fare did not figure in these awards, the studio received a special achievement prize for the documentary “Waking Sleeping Beauty,” which examined the decade from 1984 to 1994 when the once-storied animation wing took flight once more. And Pixar’s two-time Oscar champ Brad Bird (“The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille”) was feted with the Winsor McCay Award for his contributions to animation. The other recipients of that honor were long-time Disney animator Eric Goldberg (“Pocahontas,” “Hercules”) and “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening

For a full list of the winners, visit the Annie Awards website.

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