Saturday, July 2, 2011

Top 10 Animated Films All-Time: Part I

On Saturday I tweeted about a Time Magazine list authored by Richard Corliss that purported to be the 25 Best Animated Features of All Time.  As with most Disney children, this subject is obviously near and dear to my heart.  (Disney Children=anyone who grew up after VCR’s were invented and who wore out the tapes on our favorite animated Disney films and whose parents at least once considered committing a murder-suicide when their 4 year-old demanded to watch Robin Hood for the 8th time in a week...just me? Ok.) 

So when I excitedly dove in to Mr. Corliss’s article, my excitement soon turned to confusion, which later turned into frustration, which quickly turned into anger, as I kept wondering where all of the good movies were, and how Happy Feet somehow made the list.  It’s seriously an awful list and left out some great classics, not only Disney but otherwise as well.

This naturally led me to ponder over making my own personal list, which I now bestow upon you—the result of hours of tweaking and consideration (I know that sounds like I’m joking, but I’m not. Don’t judge me please).  My purview may not be as wide as a professional critic’s is, and thus have never been exposed to anything like The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) (which looks pretty sweet if you ask me, btw). I also haven’t had the honor of watching many seizure-inducing anime films, save for Spirited Away (2001), and I’m not totally sure they would be my cup of tea anyway.  My list is Disney heavy, but considering they’ve handily dominated the medium going on a century now, that’s not too much of a stretch, I don’t think. 

Hope you enjoy my list.  Here is Part I, where I will discuss my #'s 10-6.  In a day or two I will post my #'s 5-1 and some honorable mentions.  Let me know your thoughts and your own choices in the comments.  


#10:  The Lion King (1994)

Disney’s incredible makeover-run of Little Mermaid-Beauty and the Beast-Aladdin-The Lion King in the span of 4 years announced to the world that they were back, that they were staying for good, and that horny people worked for Disney (there is some sort of sexual Easter-egg in every one of those films.  I promise, look it up).  I definitely had a lot of trouble deciding what to pick for the last spot, but the great animation (ex: wildebeest stampede) and heartwarming, loosely Shakespearian story was enough to make the cut here.

#9:  The Incredibles (2004)

A lot of my favorite animated films have a healthy dose of style, which is what caught my eye and made me enjoy The Incredibles so much.  I love the mid-century design of the characters and setting which is perfectly reminiscent of the time period when superhero culture was so prevalent.  Director Brad Bird definitely has that eye for style, and always produces meaningful stories—in this case a man who desperately wants to buck the monotony of his daily routine, return to former glory, and be something special in the eyes of his family—and the subtlety and richness in the way he tells it is not found often in cinema, animated or live action.

#8:  Fantasia (1940)

Umm, this dude's kinda scary.
I mean, it’s not so much that I love the naked dancing winged babies (Clelyn tells me they’re called cherubim), or the devilishly handsome centaur men, but I do love the imagery that Disney was able to use here in combination with some great classical music.  This film is as much about the experience of watching it as anything, and from that standpoint, I think it is a wonderful success.  The animation is great not because it is incredibly meticulous, but rather, because it is so extravagant and lush—the various bursts of color and light is just great cinema.  And there are also more restrained portions that are equally compelling (like right here, for instance).  Simply a treasure in cinema history that will never be replicated.

#7:  101 Dalmatians (1961)

Love the London/England setting.  Love the great ‘60’s-era jazz.  Love the rigged British animation.  Love Cruella DeVille.  Love the awkwardly charming Pongo and Roger.  Love the tenseness in the scene where all the Dalmatians roll in the soot so as to trick Cruella.  Love the “twilight bark.”  What’s not to like? Next.

#6:  Robin Hood (1973)

With all due respect to Errol Flynn and Cary Elwes, this debonair cartoon fox is easily my favorite depiction of the legendary character (and with little respect to a sleepwalking Russell Crowe, or a laughably miscast Kevin Costner).  In addition to a host of fully realized characters, it also has the second-best music as far as this list goes (first coming up later).  A particularly great sequence to me is when the Sheriff robs an earnest church-mouse couple of their tithes, while Rooster Bob Dylan strums a great, simple acoustic tune, “Not in Nottingham:”

"Every town
Has its ups and downs
Sometimes ups 
Outnumber the downs
But not in Nottingham
I'm inclined to believe
If we were so down
We'd up and leave
We'd up and fly if we had wings for flyin'
Can't you see the tears we're cryin'?
Can't there be some happiness for me?
Not in Notthingham"

...Stay tuned for Part II!

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