Saturday, October 8, 2011

Top 15 Animated Films of the Decade

The past ten years have been absolutely chock full of ridiculously amazing animated films. Creating this list was impossibly hard for me, because I feel like I've seen almost every animated film released since I was born, and I'm in love with so many of them. However, below are what I consider to be the 15 best animated films of the past decade. Even with 15, I'm excluding a lot of great films! Anyway, here you go:

15. Kung Fu Panda (2008)
Dir: Mark Osborne and John Stevenson

I was extremely skeptical before going in to see "Kung Fu Panda". It looked like just another quickly-churned-out family movie with some celebrity voices to get ticket sales. But little did I know how truly awesome it would be. "Kung Fu Panda" is a joyous and colorful little movie. The animation is slick and sharp and the scenery and score are absolutely lovely. Plus, it had a great and honest heart that truly set it above the rest.

14. Coraline (2009)
Dir: Henry Selick

"Coraline" is a feast for the senses. The music is brilliant, the story is exhilarating, and the visuals are absolutely fantastic. Not only that, but it seamlessly mixes in 3D, so that it does not distract, but instead adds artistically to the presentation of the movie. This film is mystifying for children, thought provoking for adults, and has better production design than most live-action films.

13. Finding Nemo (2003)
Dir: Andrew Stanton

The first of what will be a few Pixar films on this list, "Finding Nemo" became an instant family classic, and rightfully so. It's a wonderful tale that mixes adventure, humor, and sadness all perfectly, as Pixar films usually do. It has an amazing score and any of the underwater scenes are di(v)e for. Oh, and Ellen DeGeneres is just awesome.

12. Corpse Bride (2005)
Dir: Tim Burton

Ah, I wish that Tim Burton would make another animated film. This is the medium where his truly eccentric visions shine. "Corpse Bride" is a mystifyingly macabre ode to love, life, and the inevitable death. Burton's mature and almost humorous view of death in this film make it something absolutely wonderful. Plus, as a musical it succeeds so well.

11. The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
Dir: Sylvain Chomet

"Triplets" is kooky, crazy, exaggerated, and awesome. It's such a success of animation - with basically no dialogue, it is able to tell a story (albeit a bizarre one) with only images and music. I mean, I love the soundtrack to this movie so much that it would probably make my top 10 of the decade itself. Every wacky visual is used perfectly - as a symbol, a caricature, or as a plot point. I can't wait for Sylvain Chomet's next film.

10. The Incredibles (2004)
Dir: Brad Bird

Action! Adventure! Family dynamics! For the longest time, "The Incredibles" was my favorite Pixar movie (until they released number 4 on this list). It's such an exciting and fun movie, one of the best superhero movies I've ever seen. I can't think of any other word to describe this movie other than...awesome.

9. Persepolis (2007)
Dir: Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi

"Persepolis" is not for children. It's an intense, political cartoon based on the graphic novel memoirs of Marjane Satrapi. The unique animation brings the viewer in immediately and is a revolutionary way to tell the story. It's sad, beautiful, and hilarious all at once...just an amazing piece of filmmaking. I hope that Satrapi adapts one of her other books for the screen someday in the future...

8. Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were Rabbit (2005)
Dir: Steve Box and Nick Park

Wallace and Gromit's short film success translated beautifully to a feature film. I love witty comedies, and "Wallace and Gromit" is about as witty as it gets. I mean, I just can't imagine anyone not loving it! Plus, think about all the time it takes to move those little clay figures. Gosh.

7. Millennium Actress (2001)
Dir: Satoshi Kon

I'm not sure what it is about this movie that makes me love it so. It's just absolutely gorgeous - a captivating romance story that spans decades. This movie is slightly more obscure than the others on the list, so if you haven't seen it yet, please check it out. It's just a fantastic movie, one that is full of surprises. Oh, and did I mention that the visuals are unbelievable?

6. Up (2009)
Dir: Pete Docter

I'm a sucker for colorful movies, in case you haven't noticed (15, 13, 7) and of all the other movies on this list, this is probably the most vivid. But that's just face value. Get down to the heart-wrenching script, the beautiful score by Michael Giacchino, and...just everything else, and you've got one of the most irresistible movies ever.

5. Howl's Moving Castle (2004)
Dir: Hayao Miyazaki

Oh, Miyazaki. How is it possible that each of Miyazaki's movies can be so amazing? A lot of it, of course, relies on the masterful music by Joe Hisaishi. "Howl's Moving Castle" is just a stunning film. Detailed, awesome, and unbelievable. I think Miyazaki is one of the greatest directors of all time and this is certainly one of his best.

4. Ratatouille (2007)
Dir: Brad Bird

"Ratatouille" is a movie just meant for me to love, because it's about Paris and about cooking. I just love, love, love those sweeping shots of Paris, with that beautiful Parisian music playing...mmmm. Anyway, "Ratatouille", like its culinary namesake, is simply delicious. While most CGI animated movies take the easy route, the hard work shows in this one and it's amazing.

3. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)
Dir: Mamoru Hosoda

This anime sci-fi romance mixes the best of all three genres flawlessly. This movie could have easily gotten so sappy so quickly, as it's about friendship and about teenagerhood, never really does, which is probably why it's so great. To be able to balance the emotions of being a teenager (which I obviously can relate to) without getting sappy makes everything so effective and genuine.

2. Wall-E (2008)
Dir: Andrew Stanton

Wow, wow, wow. I'm sure you all saw this coming, but Wall-E is easily Pixar's best film and I doubt they'll ever be able to outdo it. Its very concept seems impossible, yet the movie is nearly perfect. I'll never forget that "dancing in space" scene (pictured above). It's a gorgeous, romantic, and wonderful scene in a gorgeous, romantic and wonderful movie that I'm sure will last forever.

1. Spirited Away (2001)
Dir: Hayao Miyazaki

So here it is. My number 1 animated film of the decade...and, incidentally, my favorite film of all time. Everything about this movie is absolutely stunning, mind-blowing...use any positive superlative you want, it applies to this movie! The visuals are beautiful, the score is...ahhhh. And it instills in you (or at least in me) a sense of wonder that I rarely ever feel when going to see a movie. Ah, ah, ah...I just can't even do justice to this film in words. It's an absolute masterpiece.

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