INT. INK & PAINT CLUB - NIGHT
I don't remember why I suddenly felt the need to do this list, but regardless, film geeks should have lists of this kind ready in every genre, in case they're challenged by regular people to name their favorite whatever-film.
So without further ado, here is the - bound to be controversial - list of my favorite animated feature films.
THE TOP 10 LIST
1) Madagascar (2005)
Not just my favorite animated film, but one of my ALL TIME favorite films! I love everything about this. The sweet story, the funny characters, the goofy humor, and all the downright nutty ideas. Oh, and there's no singing in it (Except for that one song, but that doesn't count). The outstanding voice-work ties everything together, and let's not forget the penguins. 'Cause penguins are cool.
2) Kung Fu Panda (2008)
I love Kung Fu Panda a little bit more every day. The beautiful, gorgeous designs. The sweet, simple story. It features a panda, and pandas are cool. It features a fat underachiever whom I have no trouble identifying with, and on top of that it's got kung fu. Perfection.
Who would have thought the combination of the sloppy Jack Black and the Oscar-winning Dustin Hoffman would work so well? In fact, it doesn't get much better than this.
3) Ice Age (2002)
This was the first time I saw a computer animated film, and forgot it was computer animated. I literally forgot it. That should tell you all you need to know about the humor and the sweet, engaging story. Then there's John Leguizamo's Sid the Sloth, one of my favorite animated characters ever. He looks funny, acts funny, and sounds even funnier. And let's not forget that there's freakin' snow everywhere. You know how much I love snow.
Just one last detail: Stick to the original and ignore the sequels. They all suck.
4) Despicable Me (2010)
Let me be completely honest about it: This film makes me cry. Every time I get to the end I tear up. Very few animated films can do this, I'll tell you. Before we get that far, however, we get a story that flips the whole universe upside down, forces us to root for a super-villain who wants to steal the moon, while hoping he changes his ways and becomes a better person! Also, because it was produced in France, the animation style is different than most American films, which is nice.
5) Lilo & Stitch (2002)
I saw this movie the first time with two friends at my local cinema. Then this line came up: "His destructive programming is taking effect. He will be irresistibly drawn to large cities, where he will back up sewers, reverse street signs, and steal everyone's left shoe."
And then we laughed. For about 20 minutes. Much to the amazement of everyone else in the theater. From that point on the film could do no wrong. And I haven't even gotten to the part where this is the sweetest, most gentle and charming thing since sliced bread.
6) How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
I was on the fence about this film when I first saw the trailer. I wasn't even going to watch it at first, but then I gave it a chance. In about two seconds it won me over. Beautiful cinematography, great score, fantastic voice-work. The story is simple, but original - it almost feels like a classic. The setting is unusual - nobody makes viking movies any more - the animation doesn't intrude or call unnecessary attention to itself, and the humor is pleasantly subdued.
7) Wonderful Days (2003)
Stories about mankind on the brink of extinction always gets my attention, this one even more so because it's Korean and because it's an animated film for grown ups. It's got a very original story and an inventive style.
Wonderful Days combines CGI animation with good old fashioned models, and hand-drawn animation. The effect is stunning. The film looks absolutely gorgeous, but what's even more important: It packs an emotional punch as well. It's profound and often downright poetic.
8) Up (2009)
It starts off as a heartfelt tale of how life can slip through your fingers, without you knowing it, but ends up as a wild adventure which also tells you it's never too late to grab life by the horns and take it for a ride.
The first 10 minutes of Up redefines what an animated film can do. It really shouldn't work on any level... A cranky old man and a fat Asian kid in the two leads. A story that covers everything from death, to dreams and talking dogs. That's more than most live-action film manage to do.
9) Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)
I know everybody hates this. I know the animation has its feet solidly planted in the deep mud of the uncanny valley. I know the story is a bunch of new age, crystal-gripping nonsense about spirits and fluffy things. I don't care. I love the style of this film. I love the pace. I love the music. I love how seriously it takes itself. And I love the fact that the entire fate of the world seems to be on the line in every single scene.
10) Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
I'm not a big Disney fan. I think it's because of the singing and the formulaic nature of most of their films. Perhaps that's why Atlantis works for me. There's no singing and no fluffy sidekick animals. What we get instead is a classic Jules Verne action/adventure, with a completely un-Disney-like design, so cool that I don't even wish they had done it as a live-action film.
Plus, the nerd gets the girl, which is the way every good story should end.
The always quotable Open Season (2006) almost made the list, as did Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) - I just love the crazy humor. Robin Williams single-handedly elevated Aladdin (1992) to something unique. WALL·E (2008) blew me away. The Prince of Egypt (1998) gave us the kind of epic story Hollywood doesn't make any more (and I even love the songs). The tiny The Secret of Kells (2009), with its challenging story and low-tech animation, really surprised me. The Emperor's New Groove (2000) is just funny as hell. The Great Mouse Detective (1986) made me wonder why they never did a sequel, and then there's Titan A.E. (2000), which sort of drops the ball at the end, but until that point it's both beautiful and interesting. As for the Norwegian Kurt blir grusom (2008)... Well, it's just perfect for truckers, need I say more?
I'm sure some people will tear their own heads off, complaining about all the classic Disney films I've ignored. The reason is simple, they bore me. And where are all the classic Animé films? Well, I have watched some of them, but to be honest they rarely stay with me.
There you have it. This is my list and if you have a problem with it, make your own list, then we can talk.