Annie Awards Preview: What to Know About the Animation Community's Big Night

'Zootopia' and 'Kubo and the Two Strings' are among the contenders for best animated feature.
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The International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood, presents the 44th annual Annie Awards for animation on Saturday at UCLA’s Royce Hall. Here’s some things to know before the ceremony; the complete list of nominees can be found here.

The best animated feature Annie nominees are:

Disney’s Zootopia, Laika’s Kubo and the Two Strings, Disney’s Moana, Pixar’s Finding Dory and DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 3 are nominated for the best animated feature Annie trophy.

Nominees in the separate best animated independent feature category are My Life as a Zucchini and Miss Hokusai, both released by GKIDS, as well as Long Way North (Shout! Factory), The Red Turtle (Sony Pictures Classics) and Your Name (Funimation Films).

The Oscar nominees for best animated feature are Zootopia, Kubo, Moana, Zucchini and The Red Turtle.

In three of the last five years, the winner of the Annie for best animated feature went on to collect the animated feature Oscar (2015’s Inside Out, 2013’s Frozen and 2011’s Rango). In 2012, Wreck-It Ralph won the top Annie and Brave won the Oscar, while in 2014 How to Train Your Dragon 2 won the best animated feature Annie and Big Hero 6 claimed the Oscar. (The best independent animated feature category wasn’t created until 2015).

Zootopia leads the Annie feature competition with 11 nominations; Kubo follows with 10.

Following Zootopia and Kubo in the feature categories are Moana, which earned a total of six nominations; The Red Turtle, which collected five; Kung Fu Panda 3 and Trolls, which grabbed four apiece, and Finding Dory and My Life as a Zucchini, which took three apiece.

The Annies' best director category includes four of the five Oscar nominees.

They are Zootopia directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore, Kubo helmer Travis Knight, My Life as a Zucchini’s Claude Barras, and The Red Turtle’s Michael Dudok de Wit. The final Annie nominee in the feature directing category is Your Name’s Makoto Shinkai, while Moana and its directors John Musker and Ron Clements claimed the Oscar nomination.

A trio of animated-short Oscar nominees also earned Annie nominations.

Annie nominees in the best animated short subject category include Oscar nominees Blind Vaysha from the National Film Board of Canada, Google Spotlight Stories/Evil Eye Pictures’ Pearl and Pixar’s Piper. Pearl earned an additional three Annie nominations, including best directing in an animated TV/broadcast production for director Patrick Osborne, who previously won an Oscar for his 2014 animated short Feast.

Oscar-nominated documentary feature Life, Animated will receive a Special Achievement Award at the Annie ceremony.

Directed by Roger Ross Williams, Life, Animated tells the moving story of Owen Suskind, an autistic man who was unable to speak as a child until he and his family discovered a way to communicate with classic Disney animated films.

Also receiving special honors during the ceremony will be legendary animator Dale Baer, independent animation champion Caroline Leaf and influential anime director Mamoru Oshii, who will be presented Winsor McCay Awards for career achievement. The Ub Iwerks Award will go to Google Spotlight’s virtual reality platform for technical advancement, and the June Foray Award will be presented to Bill and Sue Kroyer for their “benevolent and public-spirited influence” within the animation community.

Jason Bateman and Art Parkinson are nominated for Annie Awards.

The feature film voice acting nominees are Bateman, who voiced the fox Nick Wilde in Zootopia; Game of Thrones' Parkinson, who voiced Kubo in Kubo and the Two Strings; newcomer Auli'i Cravalho, who voiced the title character of Moana; Katie Crown, who voiced Tulip in Warner Animation Group’s Storks; and Zooey Deschanel, who voiced Bridget in DWA’s Trolls.

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