The 2011 Annie Awards didn’t name Toy Story 3 the best animated movie of 2010, a shocking move that I was pleasantly surprised by. So what animated movie did win at the Annie Awards, and what does this mean for the Oscars?
The movie that managed to take Toy Story 3 down at the Annie Awards was the too-often-overlooked gem How to Train Your Dragon. It actually dominated at the Annie Awards, winning in ten different categories: Best Animated Feature, Animated Effects, Character Design, Directing, Music, Production Design, Storyboarding, Writing, Character Design, and Voice Acting in a Feature Production (actor Jay Baruchel won for voicing Hiccup).
Out of the three categories Toy Story 3 was nominated for, it won none (although Pixar was recognized for the short film accompanying Toy Story 3, Day & Night). Rounding out the Annie Awards nominees in the Best Animated Feature category were Despicable Me, Tangled, and The Illusionist. So while Toy Story 3 has to beat just two movies at the Oscars in the Best Animated Feature Category, How to Train Your Dragon had to top four at the Annie Awards.
But why the lack of Toy Story 3 love at the Annie Awards? Well, perhaps it’s because animators are looking for something fresh and new. Plus it’s easy to see why Toy Story 3 didn’t get nominated in areas like Character Design, since many of the Toy Story 3 characters were designed in the first film. In contrast to Toy Story 3, the first Toy Story movie won all eight of the Annie Awards it was nominated for, including Best Animated Feature. Toy Story 2 won seven of the nine Annie Awards it was nominated for.
So perhaps Annie Awards voters feel that they’ve already honored this franchise enough, and it’s time to move on to something new. How to Train Your Dragon was an extremely underrated movie with a heartwarming story full of colorful characters and amazing action sequences. In fact, I’d consider it high up at the top of my list of the best movies of 2010, something I can’t say about Toy Story 3.
However, as much as I’d love to see How to Train Your Dragon win at the Oscars in the Best Animated Feature category, it has absolutely no chance. In addition to Pixar dominating the category almost every year, Toy Story 3 has something big going for it: it’s one of the ten nominees up for Best Picture at the Oscars. It’s fairly obvious that this should tie things up for Toy Story 3, because if the Academy thought How to Train Your Dragon was in the same league, it would have been one of the ten (it really should have been there).
Still not convinced that Toy Story 3 has it wrapped up? Then consider this: there was no Best Animated Feature category at the Oscars when Toy Story and Toy Story 2 were around. In short, the Academy will feel obligated to give Toy Story 3 the award at the Oscars, since the two previous films didn’t have awards to win.
It’s just a shame that How to Train Your Dragon didn’t come out in 2011. With Pixar’s next movie being Cars 2, the playing field would have been more level. And the first Cars movie is the perfect example of what the Annie Awards mean when it comes to the Oscars: it actually won Best Animated Feature at the Annie Awards, while Happy Feet snagged the Oscar.
Still, I am glad the Annie Awards recognized How to Train Your Dragon, and I kind of hope that this is a wake-up call for Pixar to go back to creating fresh movies like Up and Wall-E that would actually be formidable foes for the film about fire-breathers.