The controversial 38th International Animated Film Society’s Annie Awards announced their nominees for Best Animated Feature today: Universal/Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me, DreamWorks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon, Sony Pictures Classics’ The Illusionist, and Disney’s Tangled and Toy Story 3. What the official press release didn’t mention is that Disney/Pixar is boycotting the awards and refusing to participate due to complaints they have about the voting process among other things. Though the Annies nominated two Disney films in the top category as well as directing and writing for Toy Story 3 (how could they avoid it and maintain cred?), the group gave Disney and Pixar only 7 mentions. But the Annies showered 15 nominations on DWA’s Dragon and 39 nods overall that included films like Megamind and Shrek Forever After. It’s interesting that there was no mention of vote totals in the ASIFA-Hollywood release. Hmm. Something’s wrong in Toonville, and both Disney/Pixar and the Annies have some explaining to do.
“Hosted” screenings by notables not directly connected to the movies in contention for awards seem to be rampant these days. For instance, at the DGA in Hollywood, Sean Penn moderated a Q&A Sunday with his 21 Grams director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Javier Bardem (who received a standing ovation) after a screening of Biutiful. Similar screenings for that film have been moderated by the likes of Werner Herzog and Robert Benton with upcoming unspoolings hosted by Michael Mann and Alfonso Cuaron. The DGA has a long tradition of inviting other directors to interview contenders. Joel Coen recently talked up Sofia Coppola after Somewhere screened in NYC while Alexander Payne did the same in LA. Speaking of Q&As, there was one Sunday evening for the Touchstone/Miramax adaptation by Julie Taymor of Shakespeare’s The Tempest at the WGA theatre. Star Helen Mirren needed a little of Prospera’s magic when she almost was a no-show due to a police barricade that kept her trapped on her street for about 20 minutes. It was touch and go until they finally let her car out and she showed up ten minutes into the session to much applause from the actor-heavy crowd.
As DVD screeners like The Way Back, Fair Game, and Tangled start to dribble into voters hands today, BFCA, HFPA, PGA and preliminary BAFTA ballots are all active this week with critics groups starting to announce their winners. Sunday, the Washington DC group of reviewers went for The Social Network in a big way, giving it two in a row after its triumph at the National Board of Review last week. Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) and Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) won acting awards. Of course, as previously noted here on Deadline, The King’s Speech swept the British Independent Film Awards over the weekend (with the exception of director Tom Hooper who lost to Gareth Edwards, helmer of the little-seen Monsters) while Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer won over the European Film Awards.
With all this awards activity, what’s the Academy been up to? On Saturday, two Best Picture hopefuls screened for members at the Samuel Goldwyn theatre. Fox Searchlight’s Black Swan, which killed at the arthouse box office this weekend, had the late afternoon slot and drew a reported 500 or so who gave it mixed response, according to my spies. Although the film had mostly sellouts in its regular theatrical runs, there were plenty of seats to be had at the Academy. One said it was a “tepid” reaction but good for Natalie Portman, while another who thought it was “brilliant” agreed the applause was nothing to write home about. On Saturday night, Paramount’s The Fighter screened to a fairly sparse crowd one observer pinned at about 200. But my spies really liked the film, although one said there was virtually no applause at the end. Guess the holiday season activities are starting to take their toll on attendance at AMPAS.
Finally, with the 83rd annual Academy Awards exactly 83 days away as of Tuesday December 7th, the Academy is doing a first publicity-wise by starting a daily countdown on their Oscars.org website featuring highlights of the previous 82nd Oscar ceremonies showcasing “photos, audio clips, video segments and interesting facts” from a different show each day until February 27th.