'How to Train Your Dragon' Dominates Annie Award Noms With 15
With 15 nominations, DreamWorks Animation's How to Train Your Dragon dominated the 38th annual Annie Awards, announced Monday by the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood.
It will contend in the best animated feature category against Universal/Illumination Entertainment's Despicable Me, Disney's Tangled, Sony Pictures Classics' The Illusionist and Pixar's Toy Story 3.
But while the top awards were spread around the major animation studios, the larger tally pointed to an ongoing controversy that has surrounded the organization.
Earlier this year, Disney and Pixar announced they would no longer participate in the annual awards because of their concerns over how the event is judged.
Anyone who bought a membership in the organization had been eligible to vote, and Disney contended that has favored DreamWorks in past years.
This year, the noms for Pixar's critically-applauded Toy Story lagged behind those for DreamWorks movies.
In addition to Dragon's 15 noms, DWA's Megamind earned six noms and Shrek Forever After picked up five.
Toy Story, considered to be the frontrunner in the Oscar best animated feature race, received three noms, while Disney's Tangled collected two.
Two years ago, questions surrounding the voting became particularly loud when DWA's Kung Fu Panda swept the Annies feature categories, winning 10 trophies and shutting out Pixar's Wall-E, which went on to win the Oscar for best animated feature.
Last year, Pixar's Up won the top Annie.
ASIFA-Hollywood president Antran Manoogian said that while anyone can join ASIFA, only animation professionals are eligible to vote under a new rule established for this year's competition.
He added that nominations are selected by nominating committees. "With respect to the nominating committee, all the members are very thoroughly vetted so there is absolutely no conflict of interest, meaning that whoever may have served on a particular committee had absolutely no connection to any potential submission," he asserted.
All eligible ASIFA members then vote on the winner. Manoogian reported that the society has over 5,000 members. Asked how the membership reflected the various studios, he said that the society "doesn't disclose information on members."
Disney and Pixar didn't submit entries for this year's Annies, according to a well placed source. Manoogian explained that if the studios or individuals from a film do not enter, nominating committees have the latitude to determine their own nominations.
Disney released this statement: "Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios are grateful to ASIFA's board and the entire membership for honoring our films. ASIFA has generously acknowledged the enormous effort, creativity and contributions of these artists. We congratulate them and all other nominees."
This year, the competition between leading animated movies is particularly heated since no more than three can receive Oscar nominations for the best animated feature, since only 15 films were accepted for Academy Awards consideration. A minimum of 16 would have had to be submitted for five films to earn nominations.
The Annie Awards will be presented Feb. 5 at UCLA's Royce Hall, in Los Angeles.
Read the full list, after the jump.