Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon,” the studio’s first Southeast Asian action-adventure, led ASIFA-Hollywood’s 49th Annie Awards with 10 nominations, including best animated feature. Disney’s Colombian-set musical “Encanto,” followed with nine nods, while Pixar’s Italian-set “Luca” tied for eight with Sony Animation/Netflix’s innovative, 2D-inspired “The Mitchells vs. The Machines.” This year’s virtual ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, March 12 at UCLA’s Royce Hall.
The best feature noms went to “Raya,” (from “Big Hero Six” Oscar-winning director Don Hall), “Encanto” (from Byron Howard and Clark Spencer, the Oscar-winning director and producer of “Zootopia”), “Luca,” “The Mitchells” (from “Spider-Verse” Oscar-winning producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller), and Illumination’s “Sing 2.” The competitive studio race for best feature could go Disney’s way or “The Mitchells'” (winner of the NYFCC animated feature award).
The race for best independent feature, meanwhile, was led by GKids’ “Belle,” the metaverse “Beauty and the Beast”-inspired musical from director Mamoru Hosoda; Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Oscar-buzzy, Afghan refugee animated documentary, “Flee” (which captured a total of four noms); “Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko” (from STUDIO 4oC and GKids); “Pompo the Cinephile” (from CLAP Animation Studio and GKids); and “The Summit of the Gods” (from Netflix). While “Flee” (which won the LA Film Critics animated feature prize) is the frontrunner in this race, “Belle” could pull a surprise win.
The nominees for director include Hosoda for “Belle,” Jared Bush, Byron Howard, and Charise Castro Smith for “Encanto,” Rasmussen and Kenneth Ladekjær for “Flee,” Enrico Casarosa for “Luca,” and “Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe for “The Mitchells.”
“Raya’s” other nominations were for character animation, character design, production design, FX, writing, editing, voice acting (Kelly Marie Tran as Raya), storyboarding, and music (James Newton Howard and songwriter Jhené Aiko).
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“Encanto” was also nominated for character animation, FX, music (songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who was also nominated for “Vivo,” and score by Germaine Franco), storyboarding, twice for voice acting (John Leguizamo as Bruno and Stephanie Beatriz as protagonist Mirabel), and editing.
“Luca” was additionally nominated for character animation, character design, music (score by Dan Romer), voice acting (Jack Dylan Grazer as Luca), writing, and editing.
“The Mitchells” also scored nominations for character design, production design, FX, voice acting (Abbi Jacobson as Kate), writing, and editing.
“Flee” also took noms for writing and editing, and “Belle” snagged a writing nom. “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” the sweet boy and his ‘bot bromance from Locksmith Animation/Fox, earned a production design nod for Aurélien Predal Till Nowak, and six-time Oscar nominee Nathan Crowley. And Yusuke Hirota’s steampunk adventure, “Poupelle of Chimney Town” ( STUDIO4ºC/Yoshimoto Kogyo), grabbed a music nom for the score by Youki Kojima and Yuta Bandoh.
Live-action character animation nominations went to Disney’s “Flora & Ulysses” (Framestore), Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (Weta Digital), DC’s “The Suicide Squad” (Framestore), “The Tomorrow War” (Weta Digital), and “Y: The Last Man” (Industrial Light & Magic).
The Winsor McCay Award for career contributions to the art of animation are being presented to Ruben Aquino, legendary Disney animator; Lillian Schwartz, computer animation pioneer; and Toshio Suzuki, prolific Studio Ghibli producer.
The June Foray Award for significant and benevolent or charitable impact will be awarded to Renzo & Sayoko Kinoshita, influential animation filmmakers and founders of the Hiroshima International Animation Festival.
The Ub Iwerks Award for technical advancement will be presented to Python Foundation, promoting, protecting, and advancing the open-
source Python programming language, and facilitating the growth of the diverse Python community; and The Special Achievement Award recognizing unique and outstanding achievement not recognized within the existing award category structure will be presented to Glen Vilppu, artist and author internationally known for teaching and training animation professionals. The Certificate of Merit for service to the art and industry will be presented to Evan Vernon.
The complete list of nominations can be found at the Annie Awards site.