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July 2, 2016 2:10 AM   Subscribe

The 50 Best Animated Films of the 21st Century Thus Far from The Film Stage is the kind of list that will raise discussions about whether certain films deserved to be at the top of the list and whether some near the bottom deserved to be on the list at all, but it shows the impressive diversity of quality recent animation: 2D, 3D, stop-motion, and even rotoscopes and supermarianation, from American studios other than Pixar, Japanese studios other than Ghibli, other countries entirely, animation auteurs and filmmakers best known for NOT animation. Argue away about specifics, but just see how cool it is that at least 50 great animated films have just gotten made in the last 15 years.

To show that intelligent opinions do vary, the Playlist at IndieWire has a shorter (25) list with some differences.

And if you need to see the flip side, there is no shortage of lists of Worst Animated Movies, but two specific titles come up early in the Google search: Doogal and Foodfight! (previously here)
posted by oneswellfoop (93 comments total) 105 users marked this as a favorite
*prepares to be outraged at the exclusion of It's Such A Beautiful Day*


Hell yes, I fully endorse this list. That film is absolutely a work of genius.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:19 AM on July 2, 2016 [5 favorites]

If you value your sanity, you must never watch Food Fight.

I am not being facetious. Do not do this thing. It will ruin you.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:21 AM on July 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

Well I'm just gonna get my gripes out of the way:

The Lego Movie came in behind Adventures of Tintin?
A Scanner Darkly wasn't in the top 20?
Song of the Sea and Princess Kaguya weren't in the top 10!?

No but actually there are a lot of really cool looking movies on that list that I'm gonna try to see.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 2:25 AM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Waltz with Bashir is the single most haunting film I have ever seen. I watched it with a friend a few years ago, and both of us just sat in silence staring at the black screen after our had finished for I don't even know how long before we were able to remotely function again.
posted by Dysk at 2:52 AM on July 2, 2016 [6 favorites]

Maybe I just didn't get Shaun the Sheep?
posted by Literaryhero at 2:58 AM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've only seen 20 of these plus 5 of the disqualified/honorable mention titles, but I'd have put Big Hero 6 on the list in place of quite a few of them. Likewise, I enjoyed honorable mentions Wolf Children and A Letter to Momo more than several things that made the list. But for sure this list highlights a lot of great stuff.
posted by Wobbuffet at 3:37 AM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not sure about A Scanner Darkly ... was that not postprocessing of live action?
posted by GallonOfAlan at 3:42 AM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is indeed an extremely good list. Though I think Paprika is far and away Satoshi Kon's best work. That movie is in my top three for sure.
posted by Alex404 at 3:54 AM on July 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

I was preparing myself to throw a fit about the blindingly insolent omission of Princess Mononoke, then I realized it wasn't made in this century and that I was old and I was going to die someday.
posted by procrastinator at 4:05 AM on July 2, 2016 [46 favorites]

The IndieWire list noted that both Richard Linklater’s “Waking Life” and “A Scanner Darkly” were specifically excluded from their Top 25 list because they were rotoscoped, but made the "Honoable Mentions" list.

We all have our preferences - I agree with Alex404 about Paprika; I also felt that the unlisted Boxtrolls was more entertaining for me than Laika's two listed films; and I was tickled that Emperor's New Groove made the list but disappointed that Big Hero 6 and Wreck-It Ralph didn't.

Of course, Iron Giant would've been a terrible omission if it hasn't been released in 1999.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:09 AM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Should have been one, but Incredibles at two is okay. Rango is a good inclusion--the crossing the highway scene alone was worth the price of admission. Fantastic Mr Fox, too.

A lot on here I need to see!
posted by resurrexit at 4:21 AM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Lego Movie at 50 was a straight-up middle finger, like when Comedy Central put Gallagher at 100 in their list of best stand-ups of all time. "We didn't want to be accused of forgetting this thing we hate but can't justify hating."
posted by Etrigan at 4:34 AM on July 2, 2016 [6 favorites]

Awhile back, I stumbled on It's Such a Beautiful Day through Netflix. Guyagonalize and I were deeply skeptical at the start. We'd seen and loved Rejected years earlier, but somehow we hadn't put two and two together, so for the first few minutes, we were baffled that this deadpan voice and bizarre set of stick figures was so highly recommended to us by Netflix's inscrutable algorithms, but we stuck it out and watched the whole thing.

At some point, we went from confused joking to rapt silence. Tears were shed at least half a dozen times, for at least as many reasons, and by the end, we were so wound up, it was unclear if we loved it or passionately hated it. But we couldn't stop talking about it for weeks afterwards, and it remains seared into our brains years later. I'm not sure there is another film that has ever affected either of us so deeply.

My father-in-law has a professional interest in films on mental health, so naturally I mentioned it to him, but I felt hopelessly awkward and tongue-tied trying to describe it. It was just too...intimate? I mean, how do you even talk about a film that looks like it was drawn by an arthritic preschooler, but feels like your heart shattering into slivers of emotion?
posted by Diagonalize at 4:41 AM on July 2, 2016 [6 favorites]

As much as I love the series, I remember being very underwhelmed by the Cowboy Bebop movie. Maybe I should try it again.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 5:00 AM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

A good list, but Spirited Away should be number 1.
posted by Pendragon at 5:12 AM on July 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

What ever happened to the weird and wonderful Hungarian animation industry?
posted by sammyo at 5:44 AM on July 2, 2016

No Disco Worms? Shocking. An otherwise defensible list. Good to see Ghost in the Shell: Innocence get a mention. I'm surprised by the indifference many feel towards it - I thought it was on par with the first GITS.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 5:46 AM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Happy to see Persepolis here, I loved it a lot. And on a less "worthy" note, also glad to see Tangled get an honourable mention. I was a bit gutted when my nieces moved on from it to the much inferior Frozen and I had no justifiable excuse to watch it on a loop.
posted by billiebee at 5:50 AM on July 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

Very, very sorry, but no "Ghost In The Shell", "Akira" , or for fucks sake, "The Iron Giant", sorry, that list is a woefully incomplete joke.
posted by dbiedny at 6:19 AM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's a fine enough list, but Zootopia is really great and I was expecting it to be in the top ten.
posted by graventy at 6:19 AM on July 2, 2016 [6 favorites]

And for reference, a bunch of those were released prior to 2000, making the "21st century" qualifier just as useless as much of that list.
posted by dbiedny at 6:21 AM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Wow, I don't think of myself as someone who sees movies, but I've seen a bunch of these. Maybe I'm just someone who only sees animated movies.

There was a lot of bias in this list but at least they wore their prejudices on their sleeve. My only moment of true outrage was when I saw Lilo and Stitch at #41. I love that movie and would have placed it much higher. AlonzoMosleyFBI, I agree that the Cowboy Bebop movie was a disappointment...I read its inclusion as a way to recognize Cowboy Bebop the series, since as a film it really doesn't stand that well on its own.

Definitely a few things I'll try to make time for. It is pretty staggering that all these incredible movies have been made since the turn of the century.
posted by town of cats at 6:21 AM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Perhaps I'm wrong about my timeframe comments, I need to have my tea before I rant at the Blue.
posted by dbiedny at 6:24 AM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Very, very sorry, but no "Ghost In The Shell", "Akira" , or for fucks sake, "The Iron Giant", sorry, that list is a woefully incomplete joke.

I think the words "of the 21st Century" explain those particular omissions.

Personally, I would have added Meet the Robinsons (2007) to this list somewhere, but I'm not sure what I'd cut to make room.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:28 AM on July 2, 2016 [4 favorites]

Yah well Titan A.E. came out in 2000, the last year of the 20th century what kinda scam is this even
posted by Western Infidels at 6:41 AM on July 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

I suppose it's a guilty pleasure, but I really, really liked the Girls und Panzer movie. On the other hand, I didn't think Metropolis was at all good. The animation was... acceptable... but the writing really stunk.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:03 AM on July 2, 2016

Well, my to watch list picked up a bunch of new films I'd not heard of before, really that's the best outcome of this kind of list.
posted by Artw at 7:05 AM on July 2, 2016 [4 favorites]

What ever happened to the weird and wonderful Hungarian animation industry?

If you value your sanity, do not ask me about Hungarian animation.

I am not being facetious. Do not do this thing. I will never shut up.

I have a Hungarian Animation megamegasuperhellapost that I have been compiling around here somewhere.

I have a problem.

posted by louche mustachio at 7:09 AM on July 2, 2016 [11 favorites]

A good list, but Spirited Away should be number 1.

Nah, you can argue about the order for most entries (and no Rango in the top 50, wtf?), but they put exactly the right one at the top. World of Tomorrow should have been up there too.

Looks like Hertzfeldt still has some copies left of his kickstarted anthology, btw.
posted by effbot at 7:20 AM on July 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm not sure there is another film that has ever affected either of us so deeply.

For people without Netflix, the first part is on YouTube: Everything Will Be OK. If you watch all three parts, I recommend blocking out some extra time afterwards to process things.

(World of Tomorrow is much easier that way; you can watch that one over and over.)
posted by effbot at 7:43 AM on July 2, 2016

GallonOfAlan: "Not sure about A Scanner Darkly ... was that not postprocessing of live action?"

it's called rotoscoping and it's a kind of animation. And awesome.
A Scanner Darkly stands as absolutely the only movie that comes even close to actually adapting Philip K. Dick instead of just stealing a few story ideas. And that includes Blade Runner, big time.
posted by signal at 7:43 AM on July 2, 2016 [13 favorites]

louche mustachio: " I have a Hungarian Animation megamegasuperhellapost that I have been compiling around here somewhere. "

Go, go, go!
posted by signal at 7:45 AM on July 2, 2016 [4 favorites]

I've seen most of these.


Guess the ones that I haven't go on the list.

It's Such a Beautiful day is indeed amazing, but I still think Spirited Away should have won.
posted by doomsey at 7:51 AM on July 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

Man what a great time to be alive if you love animation. I've only seen about half this list, time to track down the other half.
posted by teh_boy at 7:52 AM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

A Scanner Darkly isn't just the best film adaptation of a PKD book, it's the best film adaptation of the man himself. . It is actually psychedelic, in a way that I think is unique in art (well, perhaps van Gogh can trip you up like that if you're sensitive to it, but not like this) , let alone movies.
posted by Devonian at 8:06 AM on July 2, 2016 [4 favorites]

Titan A.E. should not be on this list. It should be lost in space, forever, searching for its home.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:09 AM on July 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

Nthing the Scanner Darkly reviews. I ran with a bunch of PKD fans back in the day (5 college friends who were sci-fi fans all got an apartment together after graduation and called their abode "The Dick House", and while they were indeed all guys it was because of PKD). I saw Scanner Darkly with a couple of them and they declared that it was "the only Dick adaptation that actually works."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:19 AM on July 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

No Fox and the Hound 2? This list is an abomination!

Oh, wait, it wasn't written by my 3 year-old? .... nevermind.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:21 AM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

There was a Girls und Panzer film?!

*searches desperately for a torrent*

Why am I so obsessed with anime about high-school girls who are inexplicably stationed on recommissioned warships? Oh well- shouganai.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:25 AM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Do we agree that the animated films of the past 25 years constitute the greatest artistic product of any kind in all human history? (I say this as a non-young, non-historically uninformed person.) For sheer quantity, quality and popularity, they have no precedent. They're not really comparable to live film, painting, comics, literature or any other art form. The technologically enabled wonders are something new in the world -- and one of the most amazing things about them is the collective nature of their production. Sure, there's always an auteur like Miyazaki, but when those credits start rolling, and the hundreds and hundreds of names scroll past, you know you are seeing the product of a collective consciousness and unconsciousness. It is so great to be alive and to witness this.
posted by Modest House at 8:29 AM on July 2, 2016 [5 favorites]

Do we agree that the animated films of the past 25 years constitute the greatest artistic product of any kind in all human history?

No, not even close. But it's still cool that there are so many good ones.
posted by Shmuel510 at 8:45 AM on July 2, 2016 [13 favorites]

Glad Mary and Max got a mention but no mention of Kooky at all?
posted by boilermonster at 9:37 AM on July 2, 2016

It's funny, I haven't seen all of these but I have seen so many TV animated series in the last 10 years that have impressed me that I think that's absorbed a lot of my animation-wonder. Also even the prettiest animation will only take me so far if the story isn't interesting/is too far up its own ass. (Looking at you, Triplets of Belleville; god I hated that movie).

Coraline looked amazing but I found the story less good than the book, so I wasn't super excited to see Box Trolls, but that movie was an unexpected delight. And...not on this list. WTF list.

I still find CGI characters offputting, the human ones especially being cold and vinyl-like, though I'm used enough to it now that I can appreciate the ones with a good story/design.

Curse of the Were-Rabbit didn't have the charm for me of the earlier Wallace and Gromit shorts.

In conclusion, see Box Trolls. And watch TV animation, especially Gravity Falls, Wander Over Yonder, Avatar , and Steven Universe. And fuck the Triplets of Belleville, seriously.
posted by emjaybee at 9:51 AM on July 2, 2016 [4 favorites]

emjaybee, I am going to emphatically disagree with you about Triplets of Belleville, especially on this, the first day of the Tour de France (cycling is one of the many things the film does well), but that's OK- not everyone has to like everything.

I will say that you should not let your dislike for Belleville stop you from watching The Illusionist, which is beautiful, hilarious, and will also break your heart.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:04 AM on July 2, 2016 [6 favorites]

+1 for Box Trolls. And I thought The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! was also good enough to make the top 50, because there was very little in it not to love.

If I have to grump a bit about the current state of film animation, and I have to because that's the sort of man I am, it's that I'd love to see more experimental long-form (and short, for that matter) work. I could pick five themes from the fringes of, say, modern physics that could sustain narratives, and no end of out-there music that sparks stories in my head, and animation would seem a natural fit to that sort of mucking about.
posted by Devonian at 10:14 AM on July 2, 2016

Sorry not sorry but Big Hero 6 should have been included. In further news, furiously updating Netflix list....
posted by Lynsey at 10:26 AM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

-I find the order of Satoshi Kon's films really interesting (Millenium at the top, followed by Tokyo Godfathers, and then Paprika). I thought the consensus was that Paprika was the masterpiece. I enjoyed Millenium Actress, but I think I needed a lot more background into Japanese filmmaking history to fully appreciate it. Incidentally, the movie is available for free (legally!) here.
But my personal favorite Kon is Tokyo Godfathers- Paprika is very plot-driven, while TG is extremely character-centered, and my personal preference is for character over plot.

-5 Centimeters per Second! This was actually the first non-Ghibli anime film I'd ever seen, back in high school. The comparison to Wong Kar-Wai is apt in more than one way, at least from the perspective of someone who's only seen one Wong film- "In the Mood for Love" was a film obsessed about one particular feeling- pining; 5 Centimeters per Second is also a film obsessed about one particular feeling- nostalgia. Very underrated.
posted by perplexion at 10:27 AM on July 2, 2016

Mostly a good list, but I would make two changes:

Remove World Police (unfunny shite) and replace it with Big Hero Six (stunningly beautiful)

Remove Through a Scanner Darkly (actually rotoscoping) and replace with Princess Arete (deliberately paced meditation on self-determination and feminism)

Other than that, if one ignores the ranking, it's a pretty good list.
posted by happyroach at 10:48 AM on July 2, 2016

Hooray for #39: A Town Called Panic
posted by fairmettle at 10:55 AM on July 2, 2016 [5 favorites]

I was sad to see Wonderful Days wasn't on the list. There's a naff youtube copy, but it's certainly worth seeing on a bigger screen.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 11:24 AM on July 2, 2016

Yeah, I can't believe how low Song of the Sea was. It's the only animated film I've seen in years that I keep going back in my mind. It's just beautiful.
posted by dame at 11:25 AM on July 2, 2016 [7 favorites]

If you watch all three parts, I recommend blocking out some extra time afterwards to process things.

Seconding this. It's not casual Friday night viewing. It's heavy and it stays with you a while. You may need to go for a walk or just sit and stare at the wall for a while afterwards.
posted by dephlogisticated at 11:38 AM on July 2, 2016

Tokyo Godfathers forever, Paprika never; the latter is just so annoyingly incomplete in its world-building to my mind. Paranoia Agent does everything Paprika wants, but better.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:00 PM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

So, to me, in an animated film, the art is more important than the story. The story in Song of the Sea is adequate and the art is mesmerizing. I also hate all Pixar movies except the monster ones, though, so what the hell do I know?
posted by dame at 12:25 PM on July 2, 2016

Could be a cultural gap, but The Wind Rises just seems a bit too weird and self indulgent to me to really stand with the rest of the Miyazaki works. On the other hand watched after The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness it's kind of fascinating to see him poking through in so much of it.
posted by Artw at 12:32 PM on July 2, 2016

This is more or less the perfect listicle, in that it's just wrong enough to make people want argue about it and garner page views.

Key, arguably deliberate incitements: putting The Wind Rises anywhere in the top half of Miyazaki's oeuvre, including anything by Makoto Shinkai or Hosoda Mamoru, or crediting anything produced by DreamWorks.

Personal gripes: Millennium Actress over Paprika, (close call, though,) The Incredibles not first among Pixar's output.
posted by fifthrider at 12:54 PM on July 2, 2016

Its new, but April and the Extraordinary World is better than many of those, especially the pretentious drivel of waking life.
posted by lkc at 12:56 PM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

This list made me wonder if anyone had done for animated films what The Millions does for novels--assign points for award nominations/wins and tally up the meta-winners. I found someone had done that for anime films up through ~2010, so I used their same sources and point system to see what the result would look like today. If I've made no errors, here it is:

14 points: Spirited Away (2002)

10 points: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)

9 points: Millennium Actress (2001); Summer Wars (2009)

8 points: Princess Mononoke (1997); Wolf Children (2012)

7 points: Summer Days with Coo (2007); The Wind Rises (2013)

6 points: Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (2008)

5 points: Blood: The Last Vampire (2000); Crayon Shin-chan: The Battle of the Warring States (2002); Howl's Moving Castle (2004); Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone (2007); From Up on Poppy Hill (2011); A Letter to Momo (2011); The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013); Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Rebellion (2013); Miss Hokusai (2015)

4 points: The Cat Returns (2002); Winter Days (2003); Tokyo Godfathers (2003); Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2003); Mind Game (2004); Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie: The Conqueror of Shambala (2005); Tekkonkinkreet (2006); The Sky Crawlers (2008); The Secret World of Arrietty (2010); Colorful (2010); Stand by Me Doraemon (2014); Giovanni's Island (2014)
posted by Wobbuffet at 1:15 PM on July 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

April and the Extraordinary World trailer.

Hand-drawn alternate history steam-punk and sci-fi with a scroungy talking cat as a world-weary intellectual. Its better than it sounds, even!
posted by lkc at 1:19 PM on July 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

Thats's great, Wobbuffet. And not one single of those is available on my local Netflix. *sigh*
posted by Harald74 at 1:22 PM on July 2, 2016

Millennium actress was a real disappointment for me. How it came in at number 5, I don't understand.

This list lost all respect when it rated Waking Life over A Scanner Darkly. Waking Life was a meandering, annoying exercise in philosophical masturbation. A Scanner Darkly is one of the best adaptations of Philip K. Dick's work.
posted by Hactar at 1:25 PM on July 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

"A Scanner Darkly", with that cast, should have been amazing. But, while sticking to the letter of the book manages to miss the spirit and be kind of lifeless. it's like the recent Pynchon, the director seemed like they were geeking out on the rotoscoping (or making a color correct version of the seventies) and never bothered to understand the material.

Spirited Away would be #1 except for the tacked on Buddhist after-school special magic river dragon ending... same for the Mitsubishi Zero movie which veered away from a lot of dark themes to put on a happyish ending. Totoro is the only Miyazaki movie which manages to keep a consistent tone right to the end...
posted by at 2:33 PM on July 2, 2016

Not sure if the call in this thread to omit rotoscoped films like A Scanner Darkly comes from an actual informed belief that the line between Animation and Not should actually split that particular hair, or just an outright misunderstanding of the technique. Is American Pop not animation? Wizards? Rotoscoping isn't a matter of dropping a live film into a Magical Computer Program and hitting the golf course before noon.
(on edit: not meaning to respond to previous 2 posts' critical takes on SD as a film, but to the charge upthread that it doesn't qualify as animation)
posted by churl at 2:41 PM on July 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Secret World of Arrietty was really affecting to me so I'm glad they put it in. Titan A.E. is a personal favorite, but I've watched it so much that the narrative and visual flaws are extremely evident - they should have spent much more time with people and much less time with space travel setpieces.
posted by Small Dollar at 2:43 PM on July 2, 2016

The first Kung Fu Panda earns the top spot among DreamWorks films on the strength of Dustin Hoffman's performance alone. But also the character design, the action sequences, the physical comedy, the script (I don't think I've ever laughed so hard at a movie not telling a joke). And it's just gorgeous, as beautiful as any of Pixar's films.

I was glad to Monster House on some of these lists, as it's way better and smarter than I would have guessed.
posted by straight at 2:46 PM on July 2, 2016

one of the most amazing things about them is the collective nature of their production. Sure, there's always an auteur like Miyazaki, but when those credits start rolling, and the hundreds and hundreds of names scroll past, you know you are seeing the product of a collective consciousness and unconsciousness.

Yes. Unlike live-action films, nothing in an animated film can happen by accident. The smallest details pass through dozens or hundreds of hands. That's why something like The Emperor's New Groove seems miraculous. It's really astonishing that any of these films can be produced by such a huge group of people and come out with such a coherent and particular voice and vision.
posted by straight at 2:56 PM on July 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

I feel like the question of whether rotoscoping qualifies is a derail. I wouldn't have put "A Scanner Darkly" and "Waking Life" on the list because they don't seem like artistic successes to me. They're hugely ambitious but they don't strike me as achieving what they set out to do. Particularly in "A Scanner Darkly" where Linklater had relatively well-structured material to work with, but couldn't deliver on it.

I think the ambition underlying both movies is what drives them and makes them worth watching. I've always been more interested in the ambitious failure than the safe success; for things like this I think there's more to think about than if they hadn't overreached. (Tangentially, the soundtrack for "Waking Life" is highly recommendable.)
posted by ardgedee at 3:23 PM on July 2, 2016

> I was sad to see Wonderful Days wasn't on the list.

It had fantastic animation quality for the time, and a memorable song in Yi Sung Yol's "Soaring" from the soundtrack.
posted by needled at 3:24 PM on July 2, 2016

Honestly, even more than rotoscoping, supermarionation should not be considered proper animation- it's just live-action puppets. I certainly enjoyed Team America: World Police, but it should not be on this list. What should replace it is an entirely different question.

The Emperor's New Groove should absolutely be on this list, both for some really excellent expressionist animation that calls back to mid-century painted cell films, as well as clever writing and inspired voice-acting.

Why do we even have that lever?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:36 PM on July 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'd rank Sita Sings the Blues much higher, but I'm glad they thought to include it in the first place.

And I agree with TheWhiteSkull regarding Team America: World Police.
posted by Shmuel510 at 4:24 PM on July 2, 2016

Puppetry is essentially real time animation - an object is manipulated by a human in real time to create the illusion that it moves on its own. But there's philosophical room to debate here.

Does the category of "animated film" only include works where individual frames of a sequence are manipulated to cause the illusion of movement, as opposed to capturing the uninterrupted real time motion of an object as a series of photographed frames? If so, films of live action puppetry do not count as animation. Personally, I think a larger category of connoisseurship that includes both live action puppetry and frame-by-frame animation is useful, because there are conceptual overlaps between the techniques.
posted by Small Dollar at 4:47 PM on July 2, 2016

And I agree with TheWhiteSkull regarding Team America: World Police.
I'm just glad the South Park movie was a 1999 release...
And it's sad to see how few "live action puppetry" movies exist that don't require (as all the Muppet movies do) interacting with 'regular' actors. And it doesn't even allow Steve Whitmire as Kermit to be nominated for an Oscar.

But then there is this year's animated output; I don't know where they put the cut-off point (the IndieWire list came out late in '15, but The Film Stage list is brand new). IMHO, Zootopia is the best Disney-not-Pixar feature of the century and at a time when everybody gets a sequel, Finding Dory is Pixar's best sequel since Toy Story 3 and Kung Fu Panda 3 is better than the first two combined. Of course, the proliferation of animated movies also means a proliferation of bad ones: Norm of the North really started the year off on the wrong foot and it says so much that Angry Birds rose to the level of 'eh, okay'. I dread the upcoming Trolls, Sing and Sausage Party (could this be the true sequel to Foodfight?) although the rise of R-rated toons make me look forward to Nerdland (premiered at Tribeca in April; where's the general release?). Some serious goodness to look forward to: Kobu and the Two Strings, Moana (which pales besides Kobu only because the threat of too much Dwayne Johnson). And after reading Paul Dini's 'Batman True Story' comic, I'm looking forward to his animated Killing Joke more than anything Batman in years. World-movie-wise, looking forward to an English translation to 'My Life as a Courgette' (and not just because Zucchini is funnier); The Red Turtle is awesome but the first trailer seemed to give the whole story away.

In some ways, we are living in a terrible timeline - but in Animation, things are pretty good. (Even if Disney cancelled Wander Over Yonder way too soon and CN didn't let McCracken back to do the Powerpuff Girls revival)
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:01 PM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Wow, looks like I met the greatest animator of the twenty first century in a small movie theater and bought a DVD of the greatest animated movie of the century from him for $20 cash. Funny world, innit?
posted by vibrotronica at 5:08 PM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

I did too, except I think Nina Paley prefers to be referred to as "her".
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 5:19 PM on July 2, 2016 [4 favorites]

Well, I met Gene Deitch (who?) at a 1985 animation festival in L.A. where he gave me an autograph with a Tom Terrific hat doodle. The same festival where I saw Chuck "Amuck" Jones in conversation with his longtime friend Ray "451" Bradbury. Yes, I belong to the last century, but I'm enjoying the animation of this one.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:34 PM on July 2, 2016

The Shaun the Sheep movie was not that great. It should be on this list, but maybe not that high. The True Form of Shaun the Sheep is the TV shorts. They are brilliant. After seeing digital movies for years, it's so awesome to see stop motion. Every thing looks so rich and full!
posted by hot_monster at 5:39 PM on July 2, 2016

Oh man, these lists have made my day.

I finally watched Sita Sings the Blues tonight, which my gf and I both loved. (It was the second half of a home double-feature where her choice was Adrienne Shelly's Waitress, which shares a ton of the same themes and is archly stylized in its own, entirely different, way.)

Then I went and searched back through MeFi to see what people were saying about it at the time. And... jesus, MeFi, WTF?

Basically just a ton of claims that she was "unprofessional" due to her fight over the use of the Annette Hanshaw songs, and then about her deputizing Rosa Parks into the "professionalism"/"just follow the rules" argument (which makes a lot more sense as it was tied to the similar troubles that Rosa Parks documentary Eyes on the Prize was going through at the same time. ALl as ppretty transparent fig leaves for some other underlying resentment towards Paley. And now where I was joyously happy about the movie a few minutes ago, now I'm just angry.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:27 PM on July 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Do people actually Spielberg's Tintin? As a long time fan of the comic, and frankly of most its other media expressions, I found it soulless. The voice work is good but there is something about the animation style and the Spielbergian action set pieces that leave me cold. It is more like I'm watching someone play a video game inspired by the comic rather than a narrative film actually based on the comic.

Kind of confused why World Police is on the list and not something like Big Hero 6, which takes a lame Marvel property overhauls it completely and creates a beautiful world, good characterizations, and a story which earns its emotional beats. For mainstream product derived ostensibly from a comic book property it is a step above. Noticed a few more omissions... No love for the lovely Rabbi's Cat? Or any of Michel Ocelot's recent films? Or Book of Life? While the English dub (looks like there are 2 dubs so I may have seen the bad one) is not great, I like some of the design work for the film the Giant King.

I've only seen one Hungarian animated film, The District and while I thought it just OK, recognizing I might be missing some cultural stuff, it definitely made me wonder if there wasn't more animated films lurking in Hungary that were worth seeing. So if you have something to share louche mustachio, please do.
posted by Ashwagandha at 10:36 PM on July 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

Above should read "Do people actually like Spielberg's Tintin?"
posted by Ashwagandha at 10:51 PM on July 2, 2016

Semi-related: the Cartoon Brew blog did a rundown of the new invitees to the Motion Picture Academy in the Feature Animation and Visual Effects departments, analyzing the diversity of the new kids, as well as listing all the names with their 'most notable' credits... providing another potentially good listing of animated features to catch up on...
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:16 AM on July 3, 2016

I consider Brave to be one of Pixar's best films and a better candidate for this list than yet another one of their cash-in sequels? (1st ten movies = 1 sequel / 2nd ten movies = 6 sequels) Toy Story 3, like Toy Story 2, is simply a retelling of the original Toy Story (toys get lost then rescue themselves) with better animation. Brave is a rare telling of the archetypal ancestral myth from the womans' point of view. It is Pixar at it's most Ghibliesque.
posted by fairmettle at 4:02 AM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

I thought Tintin was the best Indiana Jones film of recent years.
posted by Artw at 7:28 AM on July 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

I really don't get the love for The Emperor's New Groove. It seems like just one more of Disney's animation doldrums that it needed to be blown out of by Pixar's creative winds.
posted by signal at 8:15 AM on July 3, 2016

Pixar's never really tried a screwball comedy like Emperor's New Groove turned out to be, and has never had the guts to start off with such an unsympathetic protagonist. It's hard not to keep tally of such things, but I think I laughed more at New Groove than I have at most Pixar films. (Although many Pixar films have a gag or two more brilliant than anything in New Groove).
posted by straight at 8:30 AM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yeah, Sully's face during the garbage disposal scene is pretty funny, but so is nearly everything involving Kronk.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:07 AM on July 3, 2016

Emperor's New Grove wasn't actually a Disney film. It was a classic Warner Brothers' film, that just happened to be made by Disney, fifty years later.
posted by happyroach at 10:48 AM on July 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

I just can't get over the general David Spadeness of The Emperor's New Groove. Not just the voice acting, the script, the sense of humor, it all reads like an episode of "Rules of Engagement" or some such shit.
posted by signal at 12:48 PM on July 3, 2016

Yes- but on the other hand: Eartha Kitt's Yzma.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:27 PM on July 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Waking Life was a meandering, annoying exercise in philosophical masturbation.

Waking Life is disturbingly close to a documentary about living in Austin. People really have these conversations all the time.

In the interests of full disclosure, I used to know the guy who talked about evolution, and I did not know he was in the film when I went to see it.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:17 PM on July 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

disturbingly close to a documentary about living in Austin

You know, that's a really interesting way to look at that film. Doesn't make me like it any better but it does help me understand where it is coming from.
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:17 PM on July 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I seem to have a real problem with movie/animated versions of something I've read, because I didn't like The Secret World of Arriety as much as I wanted to. But the original illustrations in my edition of The Borrowers were so odd and interesting that they colored my conception of that world, so even a gorgeous re-imagining wasn't the same for me. I couldn't let go of my own conception of those characters. That's on me, though.

Waking Life was enjoyable to me because of the increasing oddness where you want the narrator to wake up and they can't, and so behind all the wacky characters/self-indulgent conversation there's this anxiety building. My assumption is (spoilers I guess) that the protagonist is dead from the first accident on and we are experiencing their consciousness as a dream fading out of their body.

Emperor's New Groove is an amazing movie that I can't believe Disney made. I still think they're not really sure why people love it so much.

I have never been a Tintin fan, and found the CGI look pretty offputting, but it was interesting to see Spielberg almost forcing me to care about it anyways, because he is just really really good at hitting those beats, even if you know he's doing it, which is impressive.

I missed out on anime almost completely as a kid, and so now when I see something like Spirited Away, I still have the feeling of understanding maybe half of what's being referenced and while I'm entranced I also think I'm missing a lot of emotional beats and in-jokes which means I'm not really "getting" the movie. I kind of have to resign myself ahead of time to that fact, and be prepared to be utterly lost for much of the story. I have been trying to get my feet wet with things like Inuyasha and Madoka, which are also confusing but beautiful, Madoka especially--the animators are doing some very strange and interesting things with the backgrounds and character design there. And the story seems like it wouldn't make sense to anybody, so you kind of shrug and go along.

Tokyo Godfathers has been recommended so that one's on my list for sure. And I don't know why neither Amazon or Netflix have Howl's Moving Castle, I guess I'll just have to order it.

A lot of what I do know about anime has been learned from Tumblr, because the kids these days know some shit and also post their favorite gifs and bits (and jokes) so it's kind of an ongoing ad for anime in general.
posted by emjaybee at 6:24 PM on July 3, 2016

I really love that Lilo & Stitch and Tokyo Godfathers both made it on to this list. I'm not the only one that love both of them :D

I'm going to go a little bit niche and suggest Time of Eve, which was technically a six episode web series, but was stitched together into a movie and since won a number of film awards. It's a gently optimistic anime about the effects androids might have on a near-future society, as told as a slice-of-life highschool drama. Despite its light and often humourous tone, it has some uncomfortable points to make about the dehumanisation of abuse and implies some clear parallels to sexism, while never losing its optimism that androids are ultimately a good and beneficial thing. It repeatedly crosses the line about anthropomorphising machines into humans, for both comic and dramatic effect, and best of all it's story about robots that doesn't turn into yet another retelling of Frankenstein.
posted by Eleven at 8:32 AM on July 4, 2016

The Lego Movie

I don't know if the pendulum swung too far from "I can't believe they made a movie about Lego" after people saw it and it wasn't terrible, but I was very disappointed seeing it a couple years after all the hype. It was kind of obnoxious.
posted by Hoopo at 12:02 PM on July 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

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