Animation is not a genre. It is an artform. Western is a genre. action is a genre. Animation can be anything. It can tell any story and be anything. (Next person to call it a genre gets punched in the face)
Two of the worst camps of people are:
- People that automatically dismiss animation as a children’s medium
- People that argue that film isn’t art because it’s the byproduct of multiple collaborators and not a singular vision
Which is ironic considering the process of making an animated film consists of a rapid succession of hand drawn images in a sequential order. Which is to say, every frame of an animated film is a work of literal art. And it might be the most important artform because as Bird put it, an animated film can be anything.
Not only is every genre available, animation affords artists the canvas in which to create anything. There’s always a level of suspension of disbelief when it comes to live action that animation never suffers from. Animation taps into the primordial part of our brains that separates the real and the unreal, the logic and the surreal.
We subconsciously understand that since real people aren’t involved, the rules are different. There’s no other art form that speaks to every generation and culture.
Because imagination is universal. And this list will be a celebration of the makers of imagination.
This is the 100 Greatest Animated Films Of All Time.
Previous Installments: 100-91.
90. The Animatrix
Say what you will about the Matrix sequels but the Wachowski’s had a vision. They wanted a connected universe long before Feige saved Marvel. They integrated different forms of media to expand their universe and the first step in that plan was the Animatrix.
An anthology made up of directors hand picked by the wachowskis, the Animatrix acts as a prequel to the events of Reloaded and Revolutions. It details the origins of the Matrix while also fleshing out side characters and offering up new bits of mythology.
It’s an ambitious project that enhances the original trilogy while also working as an anime primer. This is the film you show to people who claim to not like anime because there’s at least something for everyone here.
Remaking the original Fritz Lang masterpiece is a tall order for any director but this anime adaptation wisely side steps that films structure and decides to tell a different story within the same framework. Focusing more on what it means to be human instead of the allegorical subtext of the original, this version is radically different but keeps the spirit of the original.
Combining jaw dropping backgrounds with Tezuka’s signature character designs, this film is absolutely stunning. It apparently used 150,000 animation cells in its creation and I have no idea if that’s an impressive number or not but I’m going to pretend it is for the sake of demonstrating how much effort went into these visuals.
This film was written by Katsuhiro Ôtomo, who was adapting Osama Tezukas manga which was inspired by Fritz Lang’s film. Which are all three amazing ingredients. It’s like an amazing 7 layer bean dip minus 4 layers. Nobody needs that many layers any ways
88. Summer Wars
When Ernest Cline released Ready Player One, everyone went apeshit over all that sweet 80’s nostalgia porn, I was pointing to my left at Summer Wars and saying “it’s already been done and better.”
When Spielberg released the first and second trailers for his film adaptation, you could hear me muttering to myself “y’all know this film already exists and doesn’t need to rely on pop culture iconography because it’s story is infinity better, right? It’s called Summer Wars and…” And then I’m usually silenced by the void that is the internet.
Summer Wars. It’s a film that exists. And it’s way better than Ready Player One.
87. The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya
Isao Takahata will forever be in the shadow of Miyazaki. The two are frequent collaborators and friends but since Miyazaki is frequently referred to as the “next Disney”, Takahata will never be seen as his equal. Their relationship is very much like that of Disney and Iwerks, two geniuses that worked together multiple times but the world only remembers the bigger name. Which is ironic considering Iwerks created Mickey Mouse but that’s a topic for another day.
Takahata may not have a filmography as strong as Miyazaki but his best films are on par with the master director and there’s no better example of this than the Tale of the Princess Kaguya.
Designed to look like a watercolor painting in motion, the animation is unlike any other film. The film is a visual masterpiece and the story is equal parts touching and heartbreakingly sad. This film should finally move Yakahata out from that shadow once and for all.
86. Ninja Scroll
This is ground zero for many an anime fan. This was the vhs tape fans would pass amongst themselves with exclamations of “holy shit, you gotta see this” or “buy some ointment for your eyes because you’re about to bleed tears of blood from your eyes.” Twelve year old me didn’t really have a strong grasp on descriptives.
But twelve year old me was right about one thing, you really do need to see this. It’s pound for pound the most violently over the top anime ever made. The action is fast paced and once it starts, it never lets up.
It’s a high octane action extravaganza filled with blood and guts and explosions and I still haven’t mastered descriptives.
85. Waking Life
Richard Linklater’s ode to lucid dreaming and LSD trips. Made up of a series of vignettes involving characters waxing philosophical, this is made for fans of films like My Dinner With Andre and Coogan and Brydon’s Trip film series.
Tackling topics such as free will, posthumanity, existentialism and metaphysics, it’s like like sitting in on a great conversation or an amazing lecture.
Or it’s like taking drugs. Lots and lots of drugs.
84. Fantastic Planet
“What suggests is superior to what shows. Movies today show more and more. It’s paranoid dictator cinema. What we need is schizophrenic cinema.”
That quote perfectly encapsulates the films of René Laloux. The man only made three films but he only really needed one to prove he’s one of the most interesting visionaries to ever make a film.
I just referred to Waking Life as a drug trip and it is but it’s more like getting a contact high while listening to potheads shoot the shit for an hour. Fantastic Planet is like licking toads that were already tripping on acid.
It’s so great that L. Ron Hubbard ripped it off for Battlefield Earth. So that’s something.
There’s not enough horror films for kids. Scooby-Doo has done an excellent job of bridging the gap but besides Monster House, the well is pretty much dry. Which is all the more confounding once one watches Paranorman.
You would think the success of this film would have green-lit a dozen more children’s horror films but Hollywood is insane renegade that plays by her own rules.
This is a controversial statement but I think Laika is only effective when they make kid friendly horror. Boxtrolls and Kubo ahs the Two Strings are entertaining-ish but I don’t think they’ll stand the test of time like this and Coraline.
Oh and they should definitely adapt Psychonaughts.
Let’s tie up all these loose ass tangents:
- Kid friendly horror is good
- Kubo is bad
- Laika should make more horror-lite
- Psychonaughts is good
- Fantastic Planet is fucking with my brain
- Banana pants
82. Sleeping Beauty
I’ve never understood this films plot. Maleficent is doesn’t have any real reason to do what she does. Is she jealous? Is she bored? I know I’m over thinking it but one line of dialogue could’ve easily fixed this film.
King–Yo Maleficent, why you acting so crazy?
Maleficent–Cuz fuck that bitch. That’s why.
It doesn’t have to be that exactly but something in the same ballpark would be nice. And wouldn’t the remake been more interesting if the price didn’t wake Aurora? Have it take place 100 years in the future, where technology and magic co-exist.
Or you could’ve just fixed Passengers. Just a thought.
This film is the epitome of the old adage “an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object.” Ralph Bakshi remaking Song of the South is akin to watching the truck from the film Sorcerer barrow towards a runaway freight train that’s transporting nothing but babies, nuns and dynamite.
No matter the quality, it’s going to be the most controversial thing ever. These two things should never collide but since Bakshi is one of the best directors of the 20th century, it works.
It works if you understand what it is and what it’s trying to say. Coonskin is a brutal satire that takes aim at racism and prejudices and doesn’t let anyone off the hook. Nobody is portrayed as the quote-unquote superior race and their are no heroes.
This is an angry film that takes a sledgehammer to subtlety. It doesn’t scream at it’s audience. It takes it by the throat and doesn’t let go till you understand it’s message. Which we still haven’t.