A Few Animated Films (That Pixar Didn’t Make)

Recently seeing My Neighbor Totoro for the first time, I’ve been reminded just how many great animated films that there are. Sadly, animation is an art that is widely under-appreciated by popular audiences. In this post, I am pointing out a few notable animated films. Obviously, there are many, many more, but here are some good ones that I have seen and would not hesitate to recommend. I have excluded Pixar films, because I’m still mad that Brave won the Oscar I want to focus on films that get a little less attention:

Metropolis (2001)
I have only seen a few Japanese anime films, so I am no expert on the genre. However, of the ones that I have seen, this is the most accessible. I wrote a review of it back in January: “It is an exciting sci-fi, in the tradition of Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, and of course, Metropolis. It’s worth watching just for the wonderful shots of massive, futuristic buildings and crowded streets. The filmmakers build an atmosphere around these shots throughout the story, giving audiences a great sense of the hugeness of Metropolis.” Ebert said it best: “If you have never seen a Japanese anime, start here. If you love them, Metropolis proves you are right.”

Mary and Max (2009)
This film proves that great animation can be made with adult audiences in mind. It does not avoid striking a sad note as it deals with mature themes such as depression and addiction very frankly. Yet Mary and Max also has a wonderful sense of humor and a warm heart. The claymation is wonderful as well as is the music and writing. It is definitely an offbeat movie worth taking note of, even if you rarely watch animated movies.

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
My favorite Wes Anderson film and one of my favorite animated movies of all-time, Fantastic Mr. Fox demands to be enjoyed by all ages. Here’s what I said about it in my review of it last month: “Wes Anderson’s sixth film is a combination of great artistry and great entertainment. Certain aspects of the story and characters may have similarities to some of Anderson’s live action films, yet the picture stands out, even within the director’s personal filmography. In a world where stop-motion animation is somewhat of a lost art, Fantastic Mr. Fox is wholly original and positively heart-warming. There is nothing quite like it.”

Megamind (2010)
Megamind is not common on lists of great animated films, but it is worth seeing for several reasons: First, the voice acting is outstanding. Second, the dialogue is witty and the jokes can be appreciated by all audiences. Third, there is a painfully hilarious sequence in which Will Ferrell impersonates Marlon Brando. Fourth, the movie works well upon multiple visits. Maybe this film doesn’t quite measure up to the greatness of the three films above, but it might be the best one for families.

19 responses to “A Few Animated Films (That Pixar Didn’t Make)

  1. Nice clean article. I really agree with this actually, one thing that’d i’d really praise is Who Framed Roger Rabbit, one of the only animated films to win multiple academy awards, its also really a milestone in how Animation was, and where it went since.

    • Very good point. I hadn’t even thought of Roger Rabbit for this list, perhaps because it isn’t completely animated, but it sure was an important animated film. Thanks!

      • Yeah that’s true, but it’s such a popcultural icon that I think you can forgive it for that. I don’t know how much Ghibli you’ve seen, but from a reviewer to another watch ‘Grave of the Fireflies’. It’s just indescribably moving.

        • As far as Ghibli goes, I’ve seen Totoro, Nausicaä, and Fireflies: all excellent in my opinion. There are so many great animated films, I could easily do five more of these posts!

  2. Excellent selection. These are actually pretty much my favourite animated films from the last few years. I’d only add Wall-E and the Toy stories films to this list.

  3. Metropolis is such a beautiful movie, I loved that one so much though I haven’t seen it in forever. Megamind is also a great, often overlooked-as-a-dumb-movie choice. Haven’t seen the other two, though I’ve heard generally good things about Mr. Fox.

  4. Is it just me? Or is the the dark haired guy a dead ringer for Bruce Campbell? Great post mate. Unfortunately Pixar are ruling the screens at present, hopefully other companies will start getting a bit more recognition. 😀

    • I could see how you might have been put off by it at first. Multiple viewings do make it better, in my opinion. I’ve seen it five times now!

  5. Ha, My Neighbour Totoro was recently on. I’ve seen it a lot but it still makes me emotional. The ending of Metropolis also makes me emotional. I really love anime!

    • I’m just now getting into anime, but those are both excellent. It’s a sign of a great movie when it still makes you emotional after several viewings.

  6. Please tell me you’ve seen The Iron Giant. Another, far more adult animated film I saw the other day was My Dog Tulip. Astonishingly honest and beautifully put together.

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