Friday, January 10, 2014

2013 Animation Awards Season (UPDATE)

UPDATE 4/2/2014:  I've added the major award organizations, plus a few more of the minor organizations.

Well, here we are again, in the midst of the awards season. Close to 3 dozen critics organizations have announced their winners, and we are now close to some of the major award ceremonies - the Golden Globes will be awarded this weekend, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be announcing the Oscar nominations next week, plus we have the Annies and BAFTA awards coming up over the next few weeks.

Below is a list of the critics organizations that have awarded a Best Animated Film (or in a couple of cases a Best Family Film), and the winner of that award:

Academy AwardsFrozen
Alliance of Women Film JournalistsThe Wind Rises
American Cinema Editors Eddie AwardsFrozen
Annie AwardsFrozen
Austin Film Critics AssociationFrozen
BAFTA AwardsFrozen
BAFTA Children'sDespicable Me 2
Boston Society of Film CriticsThe Wind Rises
Critics' Choice AwardsFrozen
Central Ohio Film Critics AssociationThe Wind Rises
Chicago Film Critics AssociationThe Wind Rises
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics AssociationFrozen
Florida Film Critics CircleFrozen
Golden GlobesFrozen
Hollywood Film AwardsMonsters University
Houston Film Critics SocietyFrozen
Iowa Film Critics AssociationFrozen
Kansas City Film Critics CircleDespicable Me 2 / Frozen (tie)
Las Vegas Film Critics SocietyFrozen
Los Angeles Film Critics AssociationErnest & Celestine
National Board of ReviewThe Wind Rises
Nevada Film Critics SocietyFrozen
New York Film Critics CircleThe Wind Rises
New York Film Critics OnlineThe Wind Rises
North Texas Film Critics AssociationFrozen
Oklahoma Film Critics CircleFrozen
Online Film Critics SocietyThe Wind Rises
People's Choice AwardsDespicable Me 2
Phoenix Film Critics SocietyFrozen
Producers GuildFrozen
San Diego Film Critics SocietyThe Wind Rises
San Francisco Film Critics CircleFrozen
Southeastern Film Critics AssociationFrozen
St. Louis Film Critics AssociationFrozen
Toronto Film Critics AssociationThe Wind Rises
Utah Film Critics AssociationFrozen
Washington DC Area Film Critics AssociationFrozen
Women Film Critics CircleThe Wind Rises

Here is a summary of the animated films and the number of Best Animated Film awards it has won:
Despicable Me 23
Ernest & Celestine1
Monsters University1
The Wind Rises11

For the most part, I'm not surprised by these results. I thought Frozen was an excellent film with a great story, good characters, good music and amazing animation, sets and effects. I haven't seen The Wind Rises but given the history of Studio Ghibli and director Hayao Miyazaki, it's not surprising it has won a number of awards.
© Pixar

What does shock me is that Monsters University has won only 1 award! Really?! I recently wrote about how Disney Animation has really upped the quality of their films over the past few years.  But it seems that as Disney has continued to deliver better films, people are acting as if Pixar is going the other way and delivering lower quality films, which I disagree with. I thought Monsters University had a great story with some really nice, unexpected twists. And while Disney continues to improve upon the technical aspects of their films, Pixar still reigns supreme in this area. They continue to lead the way in areas like physically based lighting and shading and rendering optimizations. Being able to put such detail into the large and varied range of characters in this film is stunning. I have an image of Dean Hardscrabble as my iPad's background image, and I still look at it in awe whenever I wake up my iPad.

How did Monsters University do in terms of critical reception? Below is a table with the 5 animated films that have won awards this season and their Rotten Tomatoes ratings:

Despicable Me 274%
Ernest & Celestine100%
Monsters University78%
The Wind Rises81%

Again, with Frozen at 89%, it's no surprise how many awards it has won. But Monsters University is only a couple percentage points behind The Wind Rises. I don't see how that translates into almost a dozen more wins for The Wind Rises. And Monsters University did better with the critics than Despicable Me 2, but the latter has 3 more wins. Monsters University didn't even score a nomination from the Golden Globes (The Croods, which has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 70%, took the third spot along with Frozen and Despicable Me 2). So I really don't understand what's happening this year. Some people may say I'm just being too biased. And yes, I am biased (I think the word Pixar is somewhere in the name of this blog). But I can also say that Frozen is a wonderful film and deserves award recognition. Over the last couple of years we have seen a number of excellent animated films from other studios getting recognized (I'm thinking of Wreck-It Ralph, ParaNorman and Frankenweenie), and that's a great sign for the industry. But I still think Monsters University was technically better than the majority of the other contenders, and storywise it's on par with Frozen and better than Despicable Me 2. So how this translates into only 1 award is beyond me. In any case, I'm looking forward to the rest of the award season and to see how all these films fare.

If you're interested in seeing the nominations and awards bestowed upon Monsters University, take a look at its Pixar Wiki page!

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