Japanese films did not fare well at the 47th annual Annie Awards, presented Jan. 25 at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus, but a Japanese director received a juried award, posthumously.
Presented by ASIFA-Hollywood, the awards recognize excellence in the field of animation.
Juried Awards honor unparalleled achievement and exceptional contributions to animation. Winsor McCay Award recipients were selected for their exemplary industry careers – Satoshi Kon (1963-2010), film director, animator, screenwriter and manga artist; Henry Selick, stop-motion director, producer and writer who is best known for “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “James and the Giant Peach,” and “Coraline”; and Ron Clements and John Musker, for more than 30 years one of Walt Disney Animation Studio’s leading director teams.
Kon is known for such films as “Perfect Blue” (1997), “Millennium Actress” (2001), “Tokyo Godfather” (2003), and “Paprika” (2006), and the TV series “Paranoia Agent” (2004). Before becoming a director in his own right, he worked on films by Katsuhiro Otomo (“Akira”). At the time of his death, he was working on his fifth film, “Dreaming Machine.”
Producer Masao Maruyama, founder of Madhouse, accepted on Kon’s behalf. He recalled that working on Kon’s films, which were very deep and philosophical, was difficult and challenging, but once the work was done everyone felt a sense of accomplishment and started planning the next project. Maruyama said he looked forward to going back to Japan and giving the award to Kon’s wife, Kyoko.
The “In Memoriam” portion of the program included the names of 36 staff members at Kyoto Animation Studio who died as a result of an arson fire in July 2019.
Three anime films, “Weathering with You” by Makoto Shinkai, “Promare” by Hiroyuki Imaishi, and “Okko’s Inn” by Kitaro Kosaka, were nominated for Best Indie Feature, but the award went to “I Lost My Body.” Also nominated was “Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles.”
In this category, Shinkai’s “Your Name” was nominated in 2017 and Mamoru Hosoda’s “Mirai” won in 2019.
Shinkai was nominated for Best Direction-Feature, but the award went to Sergio Pablos for “Klaus.” Also nominated were Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck for “Frozen 2,” Jérémy Clapin for “I Lost My Body,” and Chris Butler for “Missing Link.”
Shinkai was also nominated for Best Writing-Feature, but the award went to Clapin nd Guillaume Laurant for “I Lost My Body.” Also nominated: Lee for “Frozen 2,” Dean DeBlois for “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” and Andrew Stanton and Stephany Folsom for “Toy Story 4.”
Hidetsugu Ito, Yuko Nakajima, Jumi Lee, and Ryosuke Tsuda of “Weathering with You” were nominated for Best FX for Feature, but the award went to “Frozen 2” (Benjamin Fiske, Alex Moaveni, Jesse Erickson, Dimitre Berberov, Kee Nam Suong). Also nominated: “Toy Story 4” (Alexis Angelidis, Amit Ganapati Baadkar, Greg Gladstone, Kylie Wijsmuller, Matthew Kiyoshi Wong), “Missing Link” (Eric Wachtman, David Horsley, Peter Stuart, Timur Khodzhaev, Joe Strasser), and “Abominable” (Amaury Aubel, James Jackson, Domin Lee, Michael Losure, Alex Timchenko).
Best Production Design-Feature went to Szymon Biernacki and Marcin Jakubowski for “Klaus.” Also nominated: “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” (Pierre-Olivier Vincent, Kirsten Kawamura, Woonyoung Jung, Iuri Lioi, Philippe Brochu), “Abominable” (Max Boas, Paul Duncan, Christopher Brock, Celine Da Hyeu Kim, Jane Li), “Missing Link” (Nelson Lowry, Santiago Montiel, Trevor Dalmer), and “The Addams Family” (Patricia Atchison, Maisha Moore, Chris Souza, Jack Yu).
Best Character Animation-Live Action went to “Avengers: Endgame.” The recipients were Sidney Kombo-Kintombo, Sam Sharplin, Keven Norris, Tim Teramoto, and Jacob Luamanuvae-Su’a of Weta Digital. Also noiminated were “Alita: Battle Angel,” “Game of Thrones” (Season 8, Episode 3), “Pokemon Detective Pikachu,” and “Spider-Man: Far from Home.”
Best Character Animation-Video Game went to “Kingdom Hearts III.” The recipients were Munenori Shinagawa, Kayoko Yajima, Koji Hamada, and Koji Inoue of Square Eniz. Also nominated were “Gears 5: Cinematic Animation,” “Sinclair Snake: Museum Mischief,” and “Unruly Heroes.”
Best Character Design-TV/Media went to Keiko Murayama for “Carmen Sandiego.” Also nominated were “DC Super Hero Girls,” “T.O.T.S.,” “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle,” and “Victor and Valentino.”
Best Storyboarding-TV/Media went to Kenny Park for “Carmen Sandiego.” Also nominated: Shinichiro Watanabe for “Carole & Tuesday,” Owen Sullivan for “Love, Death & Robots,” Riccardo Durante for “Snoopy in Space,” and Max Lang for “Zog.”
Best Voice Acting-TV/Media went to H. Jon Benjamin for “Bob’s Burgers.” Also nominated: Ali Wong for “Tuca & Bertie,” Debi Derryberry for “Tigtone,” Sarah Stiles for “Steven Universe,” and Marieve Herington for “Big City Greens.”
Bese Voice Acting-Feature went to Josh Gad for “Frozen 2.” Also nominated: Tenzing Norgay Trainor for “Abominable,” Richard Horvitz for “Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus,” Jenny Slate for “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” and Tony Hale for “Toy Story 4.”
Best Student Film went to “The Fox and the Pigeon” by Michelle Chua of Sheridan College. She worked on the film with Aileen Dewhurst, Sharon Gabriella, Viktor Ivanovski, Sang Lee, Tyler Pacana, Sikyung Kevin Sung, Morgan Thompson, Matt Walton, Steven Wang, and Chelsea van Tol.
To see winners and nominees in all categories, go to: https://annieawards.org/nominees