The 49th Annie Awards (annieawards.org) were held Saturday evening, with a star-studded virtual ceremony celebrating the year’s best animation across 36 feature film, television, short form and other categories. SpongeBob voice star Tom Kenny opened the night, which featured an international company of presenters including Trollhunters creator Guillermo del Toro and voice star Charlie Saxton, The Bad Guys director Pierre Perifel and actress Lilly Singh, Cartoon Saloon’s Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart, Encanto voice star John Leguizamo and Belle director Mamoru Hosoda.
Blythe Danner presented the Winsor McCay Awards to previously announced honorees Ruben Aquino (legendary Disney animator), Lillian Schwartz (computer animation pioneer) and Toshio Suzuki (prolific Studio Ghibli producer).
Best Feature: The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Pulling ahead in the awards season race, Sony Pictures Animation & Netflix’s visually gripping road trip gone awry The Mitchells vs. the Machines (directed by Mike Rianda, co-directed by Jeff Rowe) drove away with most of the feature prizes (all eight of its nominations), including overtaking major multi-award winner Encanto (Disney) for Best Feature. Luca (Pixar), Raya and the Last Dragon (Disney) and Sing 2 (Illumination/Universal) were also nominated.
Encanto did however pick up three awards out of its nine nominations, for character animation, storyboarding and, of course, music. Surprisingly, the movie with the most nominations going into the Annies, Raya and the Last Dragon (Disney), was left out when it came to the big night.
Best Feature – Independent: Flee
Another darling of the festival and awards circuits, Danish director Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee (NEON/Final Cut for Real) won the Best Indie Feature honor, in a race against European import The Summit of the Gods (Julianne Films/Folivari / Mélusine / Netflix) and three acclaimed Japanese films: Mamoru Hosoda’s Belle (Studio Chizu / GKIDS), Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko (Studio 4°C / GKIDS) and Pompo the Cinephile (CLAP / GKIDS).
The Annie Awards are usually a strong predictor of the Oscar winner for best animated feature. While the split into studio/indie categories muddies the water a bit, it will be interesting to see whether the Academy also falls for The Mitchells, takes a bold step out of Hollywood with Flee (which is also nominated for best international and documentary feature), falls in line with the Golden Globes et al and hands over another statuette to Disney for Encanto — or perhaps surprises us all.
Arcane won the most awards with nine, including for general audience TV.
Still, it was a big night for Netflix, which got to see it’s widely praised League of Legends series Arcane (Riot Games / Fortiche Prod.) steal the show with nine wins — like Mitchells, it won in every category it was nominated, including Best TV/Media – General Audience. Created by Christian Linke and Alex Yee, the adult-targeted series has been widely hailed for its stunning animation, as well as its compelling development of characters from the hit game.
Netflix is also home to the only other title to take multiple awards at the 49th Annies: Jorge Gutierrez and Sandra Equihua’s Mesoamerican mythic quest Maya and the Three, which won Best TV/Media – Children and Best Music – TV/Media. Like Mitchells and Arcane, the event series explores the vast stylistic possibilities of CG animation, creating a world of depth and texture capable of bringing ever more daring designs (and stories) to life.
Find the full list of nominees in all categories here.
Chilean director Hugo Covarrubias’ stop-motion Bestia won for best short.
2022 Annie Award winners:
Best Feature: The Mitchells vs. the Machines – Sony Pictures Animation for Netflix
Best Indie Feature: Flee – NEON, Final Cut For Real, Sun Creature, Vivement Lundi !, MostFilm, Mer Film, VICE, Left HandFilms, Participant
Best Short Subject: Bestia – Trebol 3 Producciones, MALEZA Estudio
Best Sponsored: A Future Begins – Nexus Studios
Best TV/Media – Preschool: Ada Twist, Scientist “Twelve Angry Birds” – Laughing Wild, Higher Ground Productions, Wonder Worldwide, Netflix
Best TV/Media – Children: Maya and the Three “The Sun and the Moon” – A Netflix Series
Best TV/Media – General Audience: Arcane “When These Walls Come Tumbling Down” – A Riot Games and Fortiche Production for Netflix
Ada Twist, Scientist
Best Student Film: Night of the Living Dread – Student director: Ida Melum; Student producer: Danielle Goff; National Film and Television School, U.K.
Best FX – TV/Media: Arcane “Oil and Water” – FX Team: Guillaume Degroote, Aurélien Ressencourt, Martin Touzé, Frédéric Macé, Jérôme Dupré; A Riot Games and Fortiche Production for Netflix
Best FX – Feature: The Mitchells vs. the Machines – FX Team: Christopher Logan, Man-Louk Chin, Devdatta Nerurkar, Pav Grochola, Filippo Maccari; Sony Pictures Animation for Netflix
Best Character Animation – TV/Media: Arcane “The Monster You Created” – Animator: Léa Chervet; A Riot Games and Fortiche Production for Netflix
Best Character Animation – Feature: Encanto – Animator: Dave Hardin; Walt Disney Animation Studios
Best Character Animation – Live Action: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – Animation Team: Karl Rapley, Sebastian Trujillo, Richard John Moore, Merlin Bela Wassilij Maertz, Pascal Raimbault: Marvel Entertainment, Weta Digital
Best Character Animation – Video Game: Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart– Animation Team: Insomniac Games Animation Team; Insomniac Games
Best Character Design – TV/Media: Arcane “Some Mysteries Better Left Unsolved” – Designer: Evan Monteiro; A Riot Games and Fortiche Production for Netflix
Best Character Design – Feature: The Mitchells vs. the Machines – Designer: Lindsey Olivares; Sony Pictures Animation for Netflix
Best Direction – TV/Media: Arcane “The Monster You Created” – Directors: Pascal Charue, Arnaud Delord, Barthelemy Maunoury; A Riot Games and Fortiche Production for Netflix
Best Direction – Feature: The Mitchells vs. the Machines – Directors: Mike Rianda, Jeff Rowe; Sony Pictures Animation for Netflix
Best Music – TV/Media:Maya and the Three“The Sun and the Moon” – Score: Tim Davies, Gustavo Santaolalla; A Netflix Series
Best Music – Feature: Encanto – Score: Germaine Franco, Lin-Manuel Miranda; Walt Disney Animation Studios
Best Production Design – TV/Media: Arcane “Happy Progress Day!” – Design Team: Julien Georgel, Aymeric Kevin, Arnaud Baudry; A Riot Games and Fortiche Production for Netflix
Best Production Design – Feature: The Mitchells vs. the Machines – DesignTeam: Lindsey Olivares, Toby Wilson, Dave Bleich; Sony Pictures Animation for Netflix
Best Storyboarding – TV/Media: Arcane “When These Walls Come Tumbling Down” – Storyboard Artist: Simon Andriveau; A Riot Games and Fortiche Production for Netflix
Best Storyboarding – Feature: Encanto – Storyboard Artist: Jason Hand; Walt Disney Animation Studios
Best Voice Acting – TV/Media: Arcane “When These Walls Come Tumbling Down” – As ‘Jinx’: Ella Purnell; A Riot Games and Fortiche Production for Netflix
Best Voice Acting – Feature: The Mitchells vs. the Machines – As ‘Katie Mitchell’: Abbi Jacobson; Sony Pictures Animation for Netflix
Best Writing – TV/Media: Arcane “The Monster You Created” – Writers: Christian Linke, Alex Yee; A Riot Games and Fortiche Production for Netflix
Best Writing – Feature: The Mitchells vs. the Machines – Writers: Mike Rianda, Jeff Rowe; Sony Pictures Animation for Netflix
Best Editorial – TV/Media: What If…? ” What If…Ultron Won?” – Editorial Team: Joel Fisher, Graham Fisher, Sharia Davis, Basuki Juwono, Adam Spieckermann; Marvel Studios
Best Editorial – Feature: The Mitchells vs. the Machines – Editorial Team: Greg Levitan, Collin Wightman, T.J. Young, Tony Ferdinand, Bret Allen; Sony Pictures Animation for Netflix
The winners of the 49th Annie Awards included, clockwise from top left: Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe (“The Mitchells vs. the Machines”), Christian Linke and Alex Yee (“Arcane”), Chris Nee and Kerri Grant (“Ada Twist”), Erick Oh (“Namoo”), Jorge R. Gutierrez (“Maya and the Three”) and Hugo Covarrubias (“Bestia”). Photos: Screenshots from the Annie Awards produced by ASIFA-Hollywood