Annie Awards 2021 Winners: Soul Takes Top Prize

Awards season continues in Hollywood and with the Academy Awards just a week away, several other industry awards have been taking place ahead of them. Recently, it was the 48th annual Annie Awards' turn to recognize excellence in animation in cinema and television. The ceremony was held virtually Friday night and Disney/Pixar's Soul walked away with not only the top prize for best animated feature, beating out Apple TV+/GKIDS' Wolfwalkers, which won five awards overall including best independent animated feature (via Deadline).

Soul was nominated for a total of 10 Annie Awards and won seven, including the aforementioned Best Animated Feature as well as Best FX for Feature, Best Character Animation - Feature, Best Music - Feature, Best Storyboarding - Feature, Best Writing - Feature, and Best Editorial - Feature.

The Annie Awards wins continue the film's successful run of the awards season. Soul a number of major awards this season including the Golden Globes, BAFTAS, and more. The film is also nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Animated Feature, Best Original Score, and Best Sound.

Released on Disney+ in December, Soul follows Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), a middle-school band teacher who finally gets his "big break" with a gig playing at the best jazz club in town only to have a tragic accident that sends him to The Great Before -- a place beyond the realm of the living where new souls get their personalities, interests, and quirks in preparation to come to Earth. Joe ends up pairing up with the soul 22 (Tina Fey) who doesn't understand the appeal of the human experience and Joe ends up trying to show 22 what's great about life while learning the answers to some of life's most important questions in the process.

The film marks Pixar's first project featuring a Black character in a lead role.

"Joe's character, it's interesting because, again, it was all very organic, and it was really... I feel like a broken record because I've been saying this a lot in that people can be afraid of cultural specificity. And I think that that's actually the key to uncovering these universal themes that we can all relate to," Soul co-director and writer Kemp Powers told ComicBook.com. "I think that one of the things we've been able to do on this film that I'm the most proud of is actually not shy away from the fact that Joe and his culture, while American, are also Black. You saw in the footage that you saw, there's a flashback where Joe says, 'Dad, I don't like jazz.' And his father corrects him and says, 'Black improvisational music. It's one of our big contributors to the culture of this country.'"

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"That, to me, is a very potent, important thing to actually acknowledge, the specificity of the Black contribution to American culture in a very, very subtle small way that might go right over a little kid's head," Powers continued. "But for some little kids, it's going to be really, really important. It's going to say that you are a part of this country. You are a part of this thing that we have today. So I think the fact that when they decided it was going to be a jazz musician, that it became important that it be a Black jazz musician, is key because that allows us to lean into the Black, the very African-American contributions to not just jazz music, but music in general."

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