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Various write-ups.

Monday, August 22, 2016

My Favorite Animated Films

Hello again!

I've recently decided to return to public writing again. Or at least as publicly as this page can be considered to allow. 

I don't have anything particular these days to share that isn't private creative work or analytical write-ups, but I'll figure things out one day at a time.

Today, I've decided to build a list of my favorite animated films. The following is in no particular order, and the only qualifiers are that the films stood out to me in a way that makes them memorable and that I can enjoy them on repeat viewings.

Without further ado:


This is an interesting movie to me. Coming after the growing pains of Bolt and the marketing botch of the Princess and the Frog, Tangled represents Disney’s return to form as an animation powerhouse. There are many things that set this film apart, and not just for the time of its release.

For years, storied Disney animator and designer Glen Keane had attempted to crack the conceptual shell of this movie, and his touch in the animation of the film is very apparent. Serving as Animation Director later in production, Glen ensured that strong fundamentals applied in traditional hand-drawn animation were adopted and that movements weren’t just pleasant to look at, but had their own role in defining the characters’ emotions and intentions; that animators were not animating a character’s actions, but the result of their thoughts. This on top of immaculate character design that both pushed and recognized the strengths and boundaries of the growing medium of 3D animation helped establish a new standard.

The directors, script and song writers, and character designers have come together on every front to ensure that all aspects of what you see in the final film are made in terms of each other, resulting in a breathtakingly cohesive package when put under scrutiny.

Tangled is a film that I believe represents the ideal marriage of all parts of the creative process, and is something beautiful to really analyze on a production level or just enjoy as standard viewing.
It’s Such a Beautiful Day

A film by Don Hertzfeldt, It’s Such a Beautiful Day is a wonderful, if strange, animated work of art.

Strange and insightful, It’s Such a Beautiful Day follows the day-to-day life of a man named Bill, framing and re-framing the mundane and comedic circumstances of his existence as time goes by. I won’t spoil much, but I’ll say that it’s not only funny and unique, but represents some relatable, human observations in a frank way throughout its runtime, and is a really poignant illustration of interesting little thoughts and realizations that many of us have surely had and made in some capacity.

Don Hertzfeldt is a one man team, writing, animating, and voicing the entirety of the film. One of the longest works he’s released, it isn’t the only one of note but it is one of the more serious. His simple animation and comedic stylings have spawned many imitators, but none have perfectly emulated his unique voice on any particular front.
Hotel Transylvania

I don’t think I’ve ever spent as much time watching a movie as I have on Hotel Transylvania. There’s nothing that moves quite like this particular movie.

Helmed by Genndy Tartakovski, the father of beloved animated series’ Samurai Jack and Dexter’s Lab, this film is a love letter to the classic western animation sensibilities. It seems to take to heart the classic Chuck Jones saying, “A comedian is not a person who opens a funny door - he’s the person who opens a door funny.” as almost every single movement is exaggerated and striking.

I’ve spent countless hours simply freeze-framing the film, observing extremely interesting animation transitions and facial expressions. That alone would be reasonable grounds to say that this is a movie that has a lot of moment-to-money value for a fan of animation, but the entertainingly written characters, interesting character and environment design, and gorgeous colors make it a very pleasing experience all-around that I will personally cherish and return to for years to come.

The Incredibles

Written and directed by Brad Bird, The Incredibles is my favorite Pixar film.

This isn’t a movie about super heroes, but one about the changes and challenges of life and family framed though the exaggerated lens that comes with having super powers. Each character’s power is written to reflect their personality and really accentuate their development, the plot is very smartly written with no wasted scenes to speak of, and the characters develop in a very believable way.

The characters and environments are all designed in just as deliberate a manner as the story was written, the cinematography is jaw-dropping, and the animation is excellent. These are all things that supplement the writing superbly.

There’s just a whole lot to like about this movie, and I think it’s a great example of a film where most elements have been crafted not to stand on their own, but to bolster the story in as best a way as can be done, which I truly appreciate.

Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph is a movie I had no positive expectations for.

I pretty much walked into the theater with the expectation of a train-wreck full of video-game jokes with a story sat on the way side as a means to an end, that end being a marketing fulfillment. What I got was instead a heartfelt story with endearing characters, incredible visual design, smart references, and tasteful cameos.

Wreck-It Ralph has its own identity and serves as a love letter to the arcade culture and a treat for general video-game fans. Seeing this movie in theaters was the best first viewing of a film I’d ever experienced, and the standing-ovation that came from everyone in the room at the start of the credits makes assures me that I wasn’t the only one who had a great time. My only regret is that the novelty of the references in the forefront wears off after the initial viewing, not because of bad execution, but because the surprise is gone at that point, which sort of makes you wish you could watch it for the first time all over again. Regardless of this point, my opinion of the film has not declined over the years; I love this movie, and look forward to every viewing!

I just hope that the recently announced sequel doesn’t do anything to take away from my love of the characters that made their debut in this excellent film.

Ernest et CĂ©lestine

Ernest et CĂ©lestine is a French produced animated film.

And it is gorgeous.

Every background and every character is drawn magnificently; almost any frame in this film could easily be hung up on a wall and be mistaken for a lovely painting. It’s almost inconceivable that something with this aesthetic could be made on a smaller budget. Even more impressive is that the animation itself is not a concession made to realize the end result; it moves beautifully.

To go along with it’s note-worthy style is complimentary substance. The story of the film, though simple, is heart-warming and timeless in its own way. Some may say that it’s not for them, but I believe that this is a movie that children and artists of all ages can enjoy. I certainly did, and surely will.


It was a pretty hard pick for my favorite stop-motion film, as I tend to marvel at the idea and execution of them while watching. The intricate nature of every aspect of these types of movies mean that I really enjoy picking them apart and trying to appreciate the little details of how they’re put together.

For the first two times I watched Coraline, I didn’t do that at all.

I was far too enamored with the world and atmosphere to regard anything going on behind the scenes. The unusual characters, the familiar yet dreary setting, and the slow unraveling of the  mystery behind the little-door had my full attention.

Created by Laika, a studio that specializes in stop-motion animation, Coraline is a movie that I love because it seems as though it uses every element that encompasses it to the fullest extent; it’s a rich world constructed of a small, closed off setting that leaves very little to the imagination with regards to its primary plot, but provides fair ground to wonder about the history of the circumstances it presents.

Usually when I love a world this much, I want to know know more about it overall, but in the case of this story, it’s the minutiae that I find intriguing, which is in and of itself special to me on those terms.

Coraline has an intriguing plot, unique character design, and is strangely welcoming in the dreary mood inspired by its backdrop. It’s a movie I enjoy greatly, and one I would happily suggest to fans of stop-motion films.

Well, that was the my personal list of favorites. Do you have a few animated films that are important to you?

Please go ahead and let me know what your favorites are in a comment below, I'd love to know!

Thanks for reading if you have! Until next time :D

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