Wednesday, April 19, 2017

My Favorite Animated Films (Part 1 of 2)

I was talking to someone recently about why and how I feel that, mainly in recent years, I tend to like animated films on average better than live action ones. After thinking about it, I felt that this is because the creators of animated films have to make films that cater to children but that adults can enjoy as well. As such, the creators of these movies tend to focus more on story-building, character development, and strong and positive conflict resolution. When I put together a list of films that made an impact to me, a couple of them were animated. It made me wonder what my favorite animated films are. And since I had just seen Beauty and the Beast, I decided to take that question a step further and list down my top 10 favorite animated films.

Note that these are my personal favorites. A lot of great animated films, such as Toy Story 3, Wall-E, and The Lion King are not on this list, despite the fact that I love those movies. It also doesn't include some films that I think I would love but haven't seen yet, such as My Neighbor Totoro or Spirited Away. This list contains movies that had stories, themes, and/or characters that resonated with me.

Warning: there are a lot of spoilers here so read at your own risk.

10. Chicken Run

I loved this stop-motion film for a few reasons. First, I loved its humor. Second, I had just mentioned how I love movies that end up with a strong positive resolution in the end and Chicken Run is very a good example of that. For a majority of the film, the chickens were depending on an American rooster Rocky to save them all. And if he did teach them to fly and escape the farm, that would have been okay. But in the end, the chickens, under the leadership of Ginger, work together to save themselves, which I found to be a much more satisfying conclusion.

9. Horton Hears a Who!

I'm thinking that everyone coming together for a common cause is a theme that I relate to deeply. The same is true for people going against all odds to fight for something that they is true. Horton Hears a Who! tackles both these themes quite well. Both Horton and the Mayor of Whoville had to face ridicule and even personal injury That scene with the entire Whoville chanting "We are here, we are here, we are here!" to try and get the animals of the jungle to hear them and spare them from annihilation gave me chills. You can see the scene I am talking about here. Even that moment when everyone in Whoville somehow loses hope when their loud sounds still cannot be heard was sobering. I also loved how the Sour Kangaroo changed her mind once she was proven wrong. Read more about why I love this movie here.

8. The Last Unicorn

I had written about this before since this movie is part of my list of films that will stay with me forever. The quality of the animation of this early 1980s Rankin Bass movie is not good, and the pacing is a bit slow. But it was the first cartoon I had seen that had a very deep theme about regret, sacrifice and love that other cartoons at that time didn't have. Read more about why I love this movie here.

7. Big Hero 6

Everyone else that year was talking about how the Lego Movie and How to Train Your Dragon 2 were the best animated films, but I had seen all three and I was rooting for Big Hero 6 to win the Oscar for Best Animated film despite the odds (it did). Part of it was because I am always a sucker for superhero movies. The other is that themes of loss and mourning tend to affect me more deeply. (Yes, I know that Hiccup loses his Dad Stoick in How to Train Your Dragon 2, but somehow his death there didn't seem to have as much impact on me; I guess I didn't connect with him as much as I did with Tadashi in Big Hero 6.) Read more about why I love this movie here.

6. Beauty and the Beast

This was the first animated film to be nominated for Oscar Best Picture. Two other animated films were nominated later on - Up and Toy Story 3 - but what makes the nomination of the 1991 version of Beauty and the Beast even more impressive is that it was nominated at a time that there were only five Oscar best picture nominees whereas Up and Toy Story 3 were nominated when up to 10 films could be nominated for the top Oscar plum. It also won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. This film is magical, with incredible music that elevates the inventiveness of the story and of the characters. However, it is the theme of doing the right thing even if it is difficult that made me a fan. I have always thought that Belle was a very strong female lead character. She is intelligent, imaginative, and hopeful. She sacrificed herself to save her father. Despite being imprisoned by the beast, she was able to see the good in him and change her mind about him, which is rare in real life because people often latch on to their first impressions despite evidence to the contrary. She makes adjustments so that other people are comfortable around her. When her father and the beast were in trouble, she came to their rescue. I think the fact that the lead character was so well-written made this film stand out.

Read Part 2 here.

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