Wallace & Gromit Leads Annie Noms

DreamWorks Animation’s and Aardman Animations’ clay-animated feature, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit came out on top as ASIFA-Hollywood today announced the nominees for the 33rd annual Annie Awards, the toon industry’s biggest kudo fest. The plasticine comedy bagged 15 nods in all, including one for Best Animated Feature.

In the race for Best Animated Feature, Wallace & Gromit is up against fellow DreamWorks release Madagascar, Warner Bros.’ Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, Disney’s presentation of Studio Ghibli’s Howl’s Moving Castle and Disney’s Chicken Little. This could be one of the more interesting showdowns in years given there’s no obvious frontrunner as Pixar’s Incredibles was last year and Finding Nemo the year prior.

An obvious favorite with Annie voters, Wallace & Gromit garnered a directing nomination for Nick Park and Steve Box, who square off against master filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki (Howl’s Moving Castle) and the team of Tim Burton and Mike Johnson (Corpse Bride). Park and Box are also nominated for writing (with Mark Burton) and Park has been singled out for character design. Other members of the film’s crew picked up individual achievement nods as the pic snagged three out of five slots in the Character Animation category and earned nominations for production design, storyboarding, music and animated effects.

One category Wallace & Gromit completely dominates is Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production. The film’s cast is left to duke it out amongst themselves as franchise regular Peter Sallis (Wallace) takes on Helena Bonham Carter (Lady Campanula Tottington), Ralph Fiennes (Victor Quartermaine) and Nicholas Smith (Reverend Clement Hedges).

Television series up for the top award are Nickelodeon’s AVATAR: The Last Airbender, Nickelodeon/Frederator’s My Life As A Teenage Robot, Warner Bros. Animation’s The Batman and Cartoon Network Studios’ Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and Star Wars: Clone Wars II (Chapters 21-25). The most TV nods went to Foster’s Hom with five total, including a directing nomination for series creator Craig McCraken. The show is also up for production design, music and character design.

Up for Best Animated Short Subject are Atomic Television/Plymptoons Prods.’ The Fan and The Flower, Laika’s Moongirl, John Canemaker Prods.’ The Moon and The Sun: An Imagined Conversation, Klasky Csupo’sMilch and Stretch Films Inc.’s Life in Transition.

Best Home Entertainment Production is a race between Creative Capers Ent.’s Bionicle 3: Web of Shadows, Warner Bros. Animation’s The Batman Vs Dracula and the DisneyToon Studios entries Kronk’s New Groove, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has A Glitch and Tarzan II. Meanwhile, interactive home entertainment gets some love this year as Double Fine Prods. Inc.’s Psychonaut, Capcom’s Resident Evil 4, Activision’s Ultimate Spider-Man and THQ’s SpongeBob SquarePants: Lights, Camera, PANTS! and Tak The Great Juju Challenge compete for Best Animated Video Game.

Corpse Bride will get this year’s Ub Iwerks Award, one of several kudos predetermined by an ASIFA jury. Animator, producer and story man Mark Kausler (The Lion King, Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi) will receive the June Foray Award for significant and benevolent or charitable impact on the art and industry of animation, while the Winsor McCay Lifetime Achievement Award goes to background/layout artist Cornelius Cole (The Pink Panther & Friends), background artist Tyrus Wong (Bambi) and director Fred Crippen (Roger Ramjet).

The 2005 Annie Award ceremony will be held on Feb. 4 at the historic Alex theater in Glendale, Calif. To see the full list of nominations, go to www.annieawards.com/foryourconsideration.htm.