Saturday, June 26, 2010

Film List - the best animated films (?)

Feeling a bit lazy this month. Well, feeling a bit wrecked, having stayed up until 4am to make sure Spain were safely through to the next round....

I had been thinking of doing a 'Film List' on the best sports movies I could think of, but.... I couldn't think of very many. (Escape To Victory? Probably not.)

Luckily enough, this list of The Best 25 Animated Features landed in my Inbox this morning, from online videogame review magazine IGN (god knows how I got on that e-mailing list!).

I'm not sure how many of their picks I agree with - I haven't even seen half of them. I definitely don't concur with their No. 1 choice. The fairytale Disneys I find a bit too cloying (I think I'd have to go with The Jungle Book or The Aristocats as my favourite Disneys, just for the music; or perhaps The Lady and The Tramp or 101 Dalmations for the charm of the stories).

Ah well, see what you think. That's all you're getting from me this week.

[Update: The remarkable JES added links in the comments below to a couple of much more interesting (and arguably much better) lists of this ilk: Time Out's Top 50 Animated Features, and this article from The Guardian in which film-maker Terry Gilliam introduces his top ten short animations. Those are both well worth checking out.]

Oh well, OK, ruminating just then on classic Disney this selection overlooked, I remembered this....


JES said...

Egad. That was a pretty bad list -- not AWFUL, but way too easy (and in many of the particulars, just wrong... even factoring in the "one man's meat" argument).

They say: Our criteria included the films' impact on pop culture, story quality, legacy, filmmaking style and our favorite "Get Out of Jail Free" card, Editor's Choice.

Ultimately, I think it might have made better sense to answer up-front the question of what you want from an animated movie in the first place. Most people, for instance -- maybe the IGN folks are different -- don't go into the theater to see an animated film which will have a profound effect on pop culture, or something likely to leave a legacy. (If so, shouldn't something like "Steamboat Willie" head the list?) They go (and leave feeling satisfied) for the same reasons associated with live-action films: story and style.

I second the howls which came from many of the article's commenters: Spirited Away should be in the top 5, anyhow, and not to have included The Triplets of Belleville at ALL was just silly. And nothing by Nick Park -- no Chicken Run, no Wallace and Gromit romps?

(And what to do with the weird not-quite-animated(-enough) category? Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, or A Scanner Darkly (mentioned by some of the commenters), or heck, even -- given the IGN fixation on pop culture -- your pal James Cameron's latest?)

By the way, speaking of reasons to go to the movies, I thought of you when I read Anthony Lane's review of a new film, I Am Love, in the current New Yorker. It opens:

The best sex you will get all year, if that's what you crave in your moviegoing, is between Tilda Swinton and a prawn.

Oh boy.

Froog said...

Thanks for that review link, JES. The latest Tilda Swinton does indeed sound worth checking out.

This 'arthouse' stuff probably accounted for 70% or 80% of my cinema-going when I was back in the UK, but here in China it can be hard to get hold of on DVD.

It was disappointing not have any Claymation on the list, but the focus was on full-length features - Chicken Run and Curse of the Were-Rabbit aren't nearly as good as the Wallace & Gromit shorts.

If they'd been considering all animation - or long shorts, at any rate - then The Wrong Trousers would surely have had to come at the top of the list. And Bugs Bunny's What's Opera, Doc? very close behind...

I would have put Jan Svankmajer's trilogy Food in there as well (macabre stop-motion using live actors).

JES said...

While checking out Svankmajer, I found this list of Terry Gilliam's top-ten animated features, from 2001.

And then came across a top-fifty compilation, by Time Out London (late 2009). (They mentioned the great When the Wind Blows, which I'd forgotten.) That's probably the only way to tackle this sort of project: a BIG list. Although as the comments reveal, unless you make it (say) a top 100 list, and an unordered one at that, you won't be able to help p*ssing some people off.

You know I wouldn't mind seeing your own list now...!

Froog said...

I suppose When The Wind Blows deserves consideration for the oddness and bleakness of its subject - but I never liked Raymond Briggs's style much, and I found this overdone, overlong, over-sentimental. The exaggerated simple-mindedness of the two protagonists gets very wearing, despite the great voice work from John Mills and Peggy Ashcroft.

The more conspicuous British omission from the ING list (youngsters who forget their history!), I thought, was Watership Down.

I notice the Time Out list includes a René Laloux film called Gandahar, which I don't know. I saw his Fantastic Planet on late-night TV when I was a teenager and was blown away by it. That would certainly make any list of this kind for me.

I also really enjoyed a screen version of a French comic book (by Rene Goscinny, half of the Asterix team) about a cowboy called Lucky Luke. I would say this was made in the early '70s, but - strangely! - I can't seem to find any reference to it on IMDB. It had some great cinematic in-jokes (spaghetti Western-style ultra-close-ups during duels, etc.), and an 'all-star' cast - a host of celebrity voices all provided by the Canadian impressionist Rich Little (the laconic hero was modelled on Gary Cooper in High Noon).

There are probably more I could add if my memory were working properly at the moment... I don't know much of the Studio Ghibli stuff, but Grave Of The Fireflies certainly has to be in the list.

Recently I enjoyed a remarkable Australian stop-motion film by Adam Elliot called Mary & Max, which charts an unlikely 20-year pen-friendship between a lonely Australian girl and an elderly New Yorker with Asperger's (wonderful in so many ways, but the voice work is especially fantastic: the principals are played by Toni Collette and Philip Seymour Hoffman, with the narration by Barry Humphries, and Eric Bana in a cameo part).

Froog said...

That should be IGN, I suppose. Oh well...

JES said...

Found a trailer for a wild-looking 2009 live-action version (in French) of Lucky Luke here. It seems to have some animated elements, though!

(IMDB says that one of that version's writers is M. Goscinny -- obviously a long-time fan.)

...and you can see the (apparently complete) 1971 film in 8 parts on YouTube; Part 1 is here.

(For the record... I took your word for it that there was nothing on IMDB about the film, and found this via a bass-ackward Google search on Rich Little's filmography.)

Froog said...

Thanks, JES, you're a marvel.

I have a pirate DVD of Lucky Luke somewhere, so don't need to be bothering with jerky, episodic YouTube versions. But I'd recommend you to give it a look.