Sony Pictures Animation’s The Mitchells vs. The Machines was the big winner at Saturday (March 12) night’s 49th annual Annie Awards, taking home the coveted Best Feature Award, as well as awards in seven other categories. The sci-fi comedy’s CalArtian creators were recognized during the livestreamed ceremony, during which works directed and produced by fellow CalArtians were also awarded.
The Mitchells vs. The Machines was directed by Michael Rianda (Film/Video 11) and co-directed by Jeffrey Rowe (Film/Video 11), both of whom also wrote the script. Rianda and Rowe were personally awarded in the categories for Best Writing in an Animated Feature Production and Best Directing in an Animated Feature Production.
Rianda noted the vision for the film in their Best Writing acceptance speech: “Jeff and I started this movie in a Sony conference room with giant dreams to make an animated movie that was wild and different and fresh and bold and innovative, but more than that, our hearts were filled with —”
“Bone. Chilling. Fear,” supplied Rowe. “We were terrified of making something that was bad because we knew we had an incredible team.”
“So we worked as hard as humanly possible for years to try not to let our team down,” added Rianda, “because they never let us down.”
The film also won the Annie Awards for Voice Acting, Feature; Editing, Feature; Animated Effects, Feature; Character Design, Feature; and Production Design, Feature.
In the category for Best Animated TV/Media Production for Children, Maya and the Three—a Netflix series created by animator, director, and CalArts alum Jorge R. Gutiérrez (Film/Video BFA 97, MFA 00)—took home the Annie for the episode “The Sun and the Moon.” The episode also won the award for Best Music in an Animated Television/Media Production. Watch Gutiérrez’s acceptance speech for the former award above.
Another noteworthy win from the evening came in the Best Special Production category, which was awarded to Baobab Studios’ animated virtual reality experience Namoo (dir. Erick Oh). The studio was founded by animator, filmmaker, and CalArts alum Eric Darnell (Film/Video MFA 90).