The Annie Awards: Half a Century of Celebrating Toons

Our world, and the animation industry as a whole, have changed so much since the first edition of Annie Awards took place at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City back in 1973. The brainchild of talented voice actress and industry champion June Foray, the Annie Awards event has grown and evolved with each passing year. However, the genuine community-minded spirit and passion for the art form remains the same. This year’s 50th edition of the awards, which will take place at UCLA’s Royce Hall on Saturday, February 25, promises to be quite a special celebration indeed.

Sue Shakespeare
Sue Shakespeare

“We’re very excited about our big 50th Annie Awards celebration this year,” says ASIFA-Hollywood President Sue Shakespeare. “Our slogan is ’50 years of creativity and magic,’ and that’s what we’re celebrating. It has been an innovative year for animation. Look at the nominations, and you see an impressive variety of styles of films, shows, games, and shorts that have been created.  I don’t believe we’ve seen so much innovative creativity ever before in our industry. I believe that animation is taking on a different kind of legitimacy now as an art form. It is perceived as art in many arenas beyond film.”

As ASIFA-Hollywood’s Executive Director Frank Gladstone points out, “After two years of being virtual, we are looking forward to having a live event at Royce Hall again. Because this is our 50th anniversary year, we are going to have some special surprises and cameos that will help us look back at all the wonderful memories through the years. We’ll be announcing the names of our hosts pretty soon, so keep checking the daily news as we get confirmations closer to the event date.”

Frank Gladstone
Frank Gladstone

Gladstone also points out that the passionate team at ASIFA-Hollywood works behind the scenes all year long to support the community. “Our animation family is more global than ever before,” he says. “The Annies are no longer a show for people who live in L.A. It’s for everyone who works in the industry worldwide. ASIFA is also increasing our grants for filmmakers, and we’re also involved in more preservation work. In addition, we’re producing an animated short for UNICEF, in conjunction with Seneca College’s animation department (produced by Aubry Mintz) and also increasing our participation in animation events worldwide.”

ASIFA-Hollywood Vice President, author and animation historian Jerry Beck says everyone involved with the awards is very proud of this benchmark year. “We’ve had many changes in the awards over the years, but looking back from a 50-year perch, I’d like to think we’ve made animation history — or at least honored that history — in recognizing many great artists and animators, filmmakers and films. I’m also excited that we are back in person for the first time in two years. And it’s been an interesting year of animated production as former front runners are facing true competition from independent animators and streaming producers.”

Jerry Beck
Jerry Beck

Beck points out that animation evolves each year, bringing new sights and sounds. “The Annies showcases what’s happening now — and previews what’s to come,” he notes. “As usual, visual design is king among our nominees. Stylized stop-motion puppets, flat hand-drawn graphics mixing with CGI, more live-action integration — not to mention more sophisticated CGI character animation. And, more importantly, the art is used for stories that not only come from a filmmaker’s heart, but touch audiences as relatable entertainment.”

Shakespeare agrees.The artistry and technology created by our ‘industry magicians’ is flourishing, and they are being united in new and exciting ways. The return to theaters has also been amazing this year! The impressive box office returns rolling in on various films have proved how much we all love a ‘big screen movie experience!’ With all of the needs for and uses of animation today, I don’t think our industry has ever been more exciting and healthy… and the promise of things to come is very exciting! Just dream it, and animation will bring it to life.”

The Annie Awards will take place on Saturday, February 25 at 7 P.M. at UCLA’s Royce Hall. For more information, visit

The award show will be live-streamed on


Annie Awards Studio Features
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Turning Red, Wendell & Wild, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish and The Sea Beast are nominated for the Annie Award for Best Feature

The Annies: Major Categories at a Glance

See all the nominees here.


Best Feature
Turning Red (Pixar)
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Netflix)
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (DreamWorks)
The Sea Beast (Netflix)
Wendell & Wild (Netflix)


Best Indie Feature
Charlotte (January Films/Balthazar, Walking the Dog)
Inu-Oh (Science SARU/GKIDS)
Little Nicholas: Happy as Can Be ( On Classics/Mediawan/Bibidul)
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (A24)
My Father’s Dragon (Cartoon Saloon for Netflix)


Annie Award for Best Indie Feature nominees: My Father’s Dragon, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Charlotte, Little Nicholas: Happy as Can Be


Best Special Production
Prehistoric Planet (BBC Studios/Apple)
Superworm (Magic Light Pictures)
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (NoneMore /Bad Robot)
The House (Nexus Studios for Netflix)
The Sandman (Netflix/Warner Bros. TV)


Best Short Subject
Amok (Director: Balázs Turai)
Black Slide (Uri Lotan)
Ice Merchants (João Gonzalez)
Love, Dad (Diana Cam Van Nguyen)
The Flying Sailor (Amanda Forbis & Wendy Tilby)


Annie Awards Shorts
Annie Awards Best Short nominees: The Flying Sailor; Amok; Love, Dad; Ice Merchants; Black Slide


Best TV/Media, Preschool
Elinor Wonders Why (Shoe Link)
Gabby’s Dollhouse (DreamWorks)
Rise Up, Sing Out (Disney TV)
Spirit Rangers (Netflix/Laughing Wild)
The Tiny Chef Show (Tiny Chef/Imagine)


Best TV/Media, Children
Abominable and the Invisible City (DreamWorks)
Big Nate (Nickelodeon)
Moominvalley (Gutsy)
The Owl House (Disney TV)
We Baby Bears (Cartoon Network)


Best TV/Media, Mature 
Bob’s Burgers (20th TV, Bento Box)
Harley Quinn (Warner Bros. Animation)
Rick and Morty (Ricky & Morty LLC)
The Simpsons (Gracie Films/20th TV)
Tuca & Bertie (The Tornante Company)


Best TV/Media, Limited Series
BAYMAX! (Walt Disney TV Animation)
El Deafo (Lighthouse/Apple)
HouseBroken (Kapital Ent./FOX)
Oni: Thunder God’s Tale (Netflix/Tonko House)
Undone (Tornante Co./Amazon Studios)


Annie Awards Best TV/Media – Children nominees: Abominable and the Invisible City, The Owl House, Big Nate, We Baby Bears, Moominvalley


Best Direction, Feature
Domee Shi (Turning Red)
Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson (Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio)
Dean Fleischer Camp, Kirsten Lepore, Stephen Chiodo (Marcel the Shell with Shoes On)
Nora Twomey (My Father’s Dragon)
Henry Selick (Wendell & Wild)


Juried Awards
     The Winsor McCay Award: Pete Docter, Evelyn Lambert, Craig McCracken
     The June Foray Award: Mindy Johnson
     The Ub Iwerks Award: Visual Effects Reference Platform, Nick Cannon/Francois Chardavoine
     The Certificate of Merit Award: John Omohundro





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