"Lilo & Stitch," Disney's tale of a Hawaiian girl and her irascible pet alien, was nominated Monday for 10 Annie awards, leading the field for the animation industry's top prizes.
The hand-drawn Disney film, which bucked the trend toward computer animation, was one of five features nominated for outstanding achievement by ASIFA-Hollywood, the Southern California branch of the International Animated Film Society.
Best feature and Annie winners in 21 other categories will be announced Feb. 1 at ASIFA-Hollywood's gala at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.
Other nominees for best feature are DreamWorks' "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" and Disney/Pixar's "Monsters, Inc.," with eight nominations apiece; "Ice Age" from 20th Century Fox/Blue Sky Studios, and Hayao Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" from Studio Ghibli.
Annie awards are given annually for animated shorts, television programs, commercials and home videos. Individuals are also honored for outstanding achievement in such animation arts as character design, storyboarding, effects animation and voice acting.
The five features in contention were chosen from an unusually large field because of a one-time change in the animation society's rules, opening the 2002 Annies to work released in the 18 months from Aug. 1, 2001, to Dec. 31, 2002. The society made the change to put its competition on the same calendar-year schedule as that of the Academy Awards. Previously, the Annie awards cycle ran from Aug. 1 to July 31.
Last year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded its first Oscar for best animated feature to DreamWorks' "Shrek," which was also the big winner at the 2001 Annies.
Antran Manoogian, president of ASIFA-Hollywood, said of the nominations: "It's wonderful to see there's such a variety of genres and styles represented by this year's nominees. It's going to be a tough choice."
The society will also honor animators Gene Hazelton and Floyd Norman and songwriter/composers Robert and Richard Sherman with its Winsor McCay Award for lifetime achievement.