Gore Verbinski's inventive and unconventional animated Western "Rango" won the top prize at the revamped Annie Awards on Saturday night.
Coming on the heels of an organizational overhaul that brought Disney back into the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood after a year in which it had withdrawn, the Annie Awards saluted a wide-ranging slate of winners, with eight different films winning the 14 feature-film awards and no sign of the DreamWorks Animation sweeps that had caused controversy in the past.
The Paramount release "Rango," though, was by far the big winner, winning awards for Best Animated Feature and for writing, character design and editing.
It also won the new Members' Favorite Award, which is voted on by the entire ASIFA-Hollywood membership, including student and affiliate members. The other awards are chosen by select committees of professionals in the field.
Besides the five awards for "Rango," Steven Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tintin" won two, as did Jennifer Yuh Nelson's "Kung Fu Panda 2," the top-grossing film ever directed by a woman.
In something of an upset, given the rest of the evening, Nelson won the directing award over Verbinski.
"Winnie the Pooh," "Rio" and "Arthur Christmas" each won one Annie, as did the live-action films "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" and "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," which were honored for animated elements.
Overall, the reconfigured process appeared to do away with the block voting that had plagued the Annies in the past, with a number of films being singled out for their strongest points.
Two films that were completely shut out were "Puss in Boots" and "Cars 2," the marquee releases from the two dominant companies in animation in recent years, DreamWorks Animation and Pixar.
In the television categories, "The Simpsons" was named Best General Audience Animated TV Production, while Disney's "Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice" won four awards.
Other TV winners included "The Amazing World of Gumball," "Disney Jake and the Never Land Pirates," "Secret Mountain Fort Awesome" and "The Penguins of Madagascar."
In recent years, the Annies had been wracked with controversy over its judging process and over a couple of sweeps by the DreamWorks Animation productions "Kung Fu Panda" and "How to Train Your Dragon" over Pixar's Oscar-winners "WALL-E" and "Toy Story 3."
Disney and Pixar withdrew from ASIFA-Hollywood in 2010, but rejoined last year after an overhaul in the judging process and a reorganization that gave more weight to studio representatives.
The revamped Annies didn't take long to suggest that things might be different under the new rules, with Disney's "Winnie the Pooh" winning the night's first feature film award, and "Rango" taking the second and third.
The show, which took place at Royce Hall and grew increasingly disorganized and gleefully chaotic (with, at one point, the wrong envelope being opened and the wrong winner announced) was hosted by Patton Oswalt.
A couple of hours after the show ended, Oswalt tweeted, "Wow, the Annie Awards felt like a train wreck I was watching even though I was at the wheel. So much fun. Thanks, guys … "
Best Animated Feature: "Rango"
Best Animated Short Subject: "Adam and Dog," Minkyu Lee
Best General Audience Animated TV Production: "The Simpsons"
Best Animated Television Production for Children: "The Amazing World of Gumball"
Best Animated Television Production for Pre-school Children: "Disney Jake and the Never Land Pirates"
Best Animated Special Production: "Kung Fu Panda – Secrets of the Masters"
Best Animated Television Commercial: Twinings "Sea," Psyop
Best Animated Video Game: "Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet"
Member's Favorite Award: "Rango"
INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT CATEGORIES:
Directing in a Feature Production: Jennifer Yuh Nelson, "Kung Fu Panda 2"
Writing in a Feature Production: John Logan, Gore Verbinski and James Byrkit, "Rango"
Character Design in a Feature Production: Mark "Crash" McCreery, "Rango"
Editing in a Feature Production: Craig Wood, "Rango"
Storyboarding in a Feature Production: Jeremy Spears, "Winnie the Pooh"
Music in a Feature Production: John Williams, "The Adventures of Tintin"
Animated Effects in an Animated Production: Kevin Romond, "The Adventures of Tintin"
Animated Effects in a Live-Action Production: Florent Andorra, "Transformers: Dark of the Moon"
Character Animation in a Live Action Production: Eric Reynolds, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"
Character Animation in a Feature Production: Jeff Gabor, "Rio"
Production Design in a Feature Production: Raymond Zibach, "Kung Fu Panda 2"
Voice Acting in a Feature Production: Bill Nighy, "Arthur Christmas"
Directing in a Television Production: Matthew Natsuk, "The Simpsons"
Writing in a Television Production: Carolyn Omine, "The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XXII"
Character Design in a Television Production: Bill Schwab, "Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice"
Editing in a Television Production: Ted Machold, Jeff Adams, Doug Tiano and Bob Tomlinson, "The Penguins of Madagascar"
Storyboarding in a Television Production: Brian Kesinger, "Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice"
Music in a Television Production: Grace Potter and Michael Giacchino, "Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice"
Character Animation in a Television Production: Tony Smeed, "Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice"
Production Design in a Television Production: Mark Bodnar, Chris Tsirgiotis, Sue Mondt and Daniel Elson, "Secret Mountain Fort Awesome"
Voice Acting in a Television Production: Jeff Bennett, "The Penguins of Madagascar"
June Foray Award: Art Leonardi
Windsor McCay Award: Ronald Searle
Windsor McCay Award: Walt Peregoy
Windsor McCay Award: Borge Ring
Special Achievment Annie Award: Depth Analysis