On weekends I and my brother would watch any cartoon show on channels that our antenna, perched on top of our house, could get a signal on. Donald Duck. Mickey Mouse. Road Runner. Popeye. Chipmunks. The Flying House. Cedie, Ang Munting Prinsipe. Sarah, Ang Munting Prinsesa.
As I aged I outgrew the cartoons that I was so fond of. I became more enamored with books and live-action movies and grades. I still watched cartoons though but only full-length ones. I no longer had the patience to watch 30-minute shows that were made solely for kids.
I have seen lots of animations and here is the rundown of my top 10 favorites.
1. Spirited Away(2001). Bar none, this classic animated movie by Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki is the best on my list. The film follows a 10-year-old Chihiro as she tries to save her parents, who have turned into pigs, in a world where spirits and monsters abound. Storytelling and animation at its best.
2. Princess Mononoke (1998). Coming a close second is another film by Miyazaki. Wikipedia describes the film as “a period drama set specifically in the late Muromachi period of Japan but with numerous fantastic elements and concentrates on the struggle between the supernatural guardians of a forest and the humans who consume its resources as seen by the outsider Ashitaka”.
3. Toy Story (1995). This film, the first among Pixar’s masterpieces, was released in 1995 and tells the adventures of cowboy Woody and astronaut Buzz. It was so successful that Pixar released a sequel in 1999 featuring the same characters from the original and released the Academy Award nominated song When She Loved Me. The third installment, Toy Story 3, is set for release on June 18, 2010.
4. Monster’s Inc (2001). This is Pixar’s4th full-length animation about two “monsters” Sulley and Mike and an adorable little girl named Boo. Who doesn’t remember that scene when Sulley bids Boo goodbye and his anguished face when the door to her room was shredded to pieces? Or that final scene when Boo’s door was fixed and the camera focused on Sulley’s face as he opened the door to Boo’s room?
5. Finding Nemo (2003). ES-KA-PE. That is the first word that comes to mind when this film is mentioned. Dory, voiced by Ellen Degeneres, who has short-term memory loss steals the show from the father-and-son tandem Marlin and Nemo. I read that the DVD is a the all-time bestseller. I am not surprised. The movie is classic Pixar.
6. The Incredibles (2004). Who knew that an action movie would look so good and hugely entertaining in animated form? Brad Bird, who directed the movie, also had a field day giving voice to the designer of the Parr’s supersuites. Kung Fu Panda, who sadly is not included in my list, is also a terrific action movie.
7. Shrek (2001). Shrek. Princess Fiona. Donkey. Dreamworks’ first foray into digital animation was both a critical and commercial success. The sequel, released in 2004, was even better and more hilarious thanks to Antonio Banderas’ Puss in Boots. Shrek the Third was a disappointment. The third sequel, Shrek Forever After, is set for release on May 21, 2010.
8. Coraline (2009). This is a terrific animated stop-motion fantasy film based on Neil Gaiman’s novel. The film tells the story of Coraline Jones who discovers a small door on the new apartment that she and her parents had recently moved in. The door is a passageway to the Other World where her more attentive “Other Parents” live and have a secret agenda of their own.
9. Persepolis (2007). Based on Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novel and winner of the Jury Prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, the film follows “a young girl as she comes of age against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution”. The film made in black-and-white is sometimes hilarious, sometimes harrowing, and always has the heart in the right place.
10. Grave of the Fireflies (1988). This Japanese film directed by Isao Takahata is not your typical animated film. It is not a fantasy where toys and cars talk. In the film we see the orphaned protagonists try and fail to survive war-torn Japan set during the dying days of World War II. This is probably the most serious and “real” animated film that I have seen.
Honorable mention goes to The Lion King, Animatrix, Waltz with Bashir, Kung Fu Panda, Chicken Run, Ice Age 1 & 2, Antz, The Prince of Egypt, and the rest of the Pixar films not included on my list.
Have a great long weekend everyone!