Dreamworks' wonderfully funny and entertaining animated film How to Train Your Dragon was regarded as one of the best movies of the year. Here at Screen Rant, our own Vic Holtreman gave it a near-perfect 4.5/5 star review. Given the near-universal praise for the movie, it's not surprising to learn that How to Train Your Dragon led all other animated movies with an impressive 15 nominations at this year's annual Annie Awards.
How to Train Your Dragon will compete with Despicable Me, Tangled, Toy Story 3, and The Illusionist for Best Animated Feature. Of those films, Despicable Me received seven total nominations, The Illusionist received five, Toy Story received three, and Tangled received two nominations. DreamWorks' Megamind and Shrek Forever After earned six and five nominations, respectively.
If those numbers seem a little bit off to you, there's a good explanation. In my opinion, the only animated film to exceed How to Train Your Dragon this year was Toy Story 3. In fact, behind Inception, I don't think there was a better movie than Pixar's epic send-off to the Toy Story franchise (it's no wonder the producers are shooting for a Best Picture Oscar).
Obviously, I'm not the only one who thinks that Toy Story 3 was the best animated film of the year; Pixar does too. Unfortunately, because of the way the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood, tallies nominations, it is much easier for DreamWorks films to receive nominations.
The Hollywood Reporter explained the unusual process, saying, "anyone who buys a membership in the organization is eligible to vote, and Disney contends that has favored DreamWorks in recent years." This twist explains why Kung Fu Panda (a good film) shut out Wall-E (a great film) two years ago and why Disney-Pixar has chosen not to participate in future Annie Awards competitions.
Setting aside this minor conflict, this year's collection of Annie Award nominations reflects a tremendous year for animated films. For example, compared to Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon, Despicable Me, an enjoyable family film that garnered an over 80% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, seems almost average. If every "average" Hollywood movie lived up to that same quality, I guarantee moviegoers would be much happier.
I've gotten into several disagreements over the years about whether animated films can be considered 'real movies.' To a true cinema fan, the question seems ludicrous. While some people pigeonhole animated movies as "kiddie films," the truth is that a well-told story, whether it's computer generated, hand-drawn, or acted out with shadow puppets, is still a well-told story. 2010 helped prove that to be true.