46th Annie Awards celebrates year’s best in animation

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sweeps at the awards ceremony, taking home all seven nominations.
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” took home seven awards at the 2019 Annie Awards. Courtesy of IMDb

The 46th Annie Awards were presented at the University of California, Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 2. The annual ceremony honors the year’s best in animation, and is organized by the Hollywood branch of the International Animated Film Association. ASIFA-Hollywood President Jerry Beck addressed the crowd at the awards, reminding them that the purpose of the ASIFA-Hollywood is to “support the community, educate the public and celebrate artists.”

“Animation is bigger, stronger and a vital part of the arts,” Beck said. “I’m insanely proud of the nominees this year. There’s a future in these cartoons.”

While “Incredibles 2” and “Ralph Breaks the Internet” led the nominees with 11 and 10 nominations respectively, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” swept the awards. The musical theme of each winner was played as they walked up to the stage for the award, so Post Malone and Swae Lee’s “Sunflower” became the soundtrack of the evening. “Spider-Verse,” a Sony Pictures Animation film, took home the coveted Best Animated Feature award and all six of its other nominations.

The directors and producers of “Spider-Verse,” in their final acceptance speech of the night, thanked ASIFA-Hollywood for “creating a community for an industry of introverts” and stated the most inspiring thing about the night was the creators who took risks with their content. They felt the message of their movie showcased best how they wanted the creators to feel.

“All 800 plus of us who made this movie wanted this to be a movie that made people feel necessary and feel powerful,” co-director Peter Ramsey said in his acceptance speech. “That’s kind of our message, man. You’re powerful. You’re necessary. We need every single one of you. That goes for our community as artists and creators. That goes for us as people in the world.”

While “Spider-Verse” took many of the coveted feature awards, “BoJack Horseman” took home the Annie for Best General Audience Animated Television/Broadcast Production, specifically for the season five episode, “The Dog Days Are Over,” as well as the award for Outstanding Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production, credited to Will Arnett’s performance as the eponymous character.

Filmmakers without access to Hollywood-level budgets were also recognized at the awards. The award for Best Student Film featured nominees from both domestic arts schools, like California Institute of the Arts, and international schools from Germany, France and England. The award went to “Best Friend,” a film from five students at French animation school Gobelins, L'École de L'Image. The students, hailing from India, Spain, Italy, China and Brazil, cited diversity as a key part of their success.

“[The win] proves that it doesn’t matter where you come from, you can make it happen,” student filmmaker Varun Nair said in the group’s acceptance speech. “Cheers to more diversity!”

Two new categories were debuted at this year’s Annie Awards. One of the new awards, Outstanding Achievement for Animated Effects in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production, set out to honor shows with outstanding visual effects in their animation. The inaugural award went to “Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia,” a sci-fi/fantasy series from Guillermo del Toro.

The second new category aimed to recognize achievement in the new medium of virtual reality. The inaugural Best Virtual Reality Production award went to “Crow: The Legend” from Virtual reality animation studio Baobab Studios. In his acceptance speech, Chief Creative Officer Eric Darnell thanked the industry itself, citing the future of VR as motivation for creative work.

“I want to thank everyone in this industry working from passion and love and what the potential of this new medium could be,” Darnell said.

VR is one of several nontraditional animation mediums the Annie Awards celebrates. Commercials and live-action films with animated characters or segments are recognized as well. Greenpeace’s “There's a Rang-Tan In My Bedroom,” a warning against deforestation, took home the award for Best Animated Television/Broadcast Commercial. “Mary Poppins Returns” took home the award for Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in a Live Action Production, honoring Chris Sauve, James Baxter and Sandro Cleuzo for the integration of animated sequences and characters into the otherwise live-action film.

Edited by Joe Cross | jcross@themaneater.com

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