I just thought you might be wondering what my opinion is on non-Disney animated films. I’m not talking Pixar,Studio Ghibli or other Disney wings because they should get their own list. I’m talking about other studios like Dreamworks, which while not as consistently my favorites like Disney, they have made some great animated films.
So here we go in no particular order.
1. The Adventures of Tintin- underrated action adventure movie. Yes, it is motion capture not traditional animation but I figure if it looks, feels, acts like an animated film it is an animated film. More people should have seen this movie. It was so entertaining!
2. The Lego Movie- one of the most visually inventive movies I’ve ever seen. The effects with the legos blew me away. Great voice work by whole cast, and the script is so well written. Every joke got a laugh from me and then there’s moments that were surprisingly tender. It is the best movie I’ve seen at capturing how a child plays with their toys and how incapable adults are at understanding that play.
3. Kung Fu Panda 1 and 2- both films are very entertaining with a likable lead character, fun action, beautiful visuals, and great villains.
4. Secret of Nimh- wonderful movie featuring one of the toughest Moms in movies. She doesn’t want to be a hero but will do anything for her son. There’s humor, adventure and most importantly real heart.
5. Anastasia- one of the best animated romantic comedies put onto film. Great chemistry, a fun villain, and decent music. The story is silly but I still find it very entertaining.
6. How to Train Your Dragon- haven’t seen sequel but want to. Original was very entertaining. It’s a predictable story but told very well. Great voice cast and a great heart to the story of Hiccup and his desire to please his demanding father. The relationship between him and the dragon is very absorbing. Beautiful flying visuals.
7. Prince of Egypt- some people have problems with the changes from the Biblical story but not me. I am mad for the music, just love it and the scene where Moses communes with the burning bush is breathtaking. I’m a huge fan of biblical epics and this stands with the best.
8. Arthur Christmas- A movie I thought looked really stupid and then totally surprised me. Santa’s youngest son Arthur believes in bringing Christmas to every child and when he finds a girl has been missed will do anything to make it right. I love the idea that even the North Pole has become over-commercialized for Christmas. I love Christmas movies so this is a big win. Great voice cast. Real heart.
9. Chicken Run- An homage to Dirty Dozen and other prison escape movies from the 50s. Great writing and voice work. Terrific villain and the stop motion animation is fabulous.
10. Transformers 1986- Michael Bay should be strapped down and forced to watch this movie for a week straight to understand how it should be done. Those bloated, obnoxious mess of movies don’t have 1/10th the heart of this animated film. Orson Wells is Optimus Prime and he is great. It’s got action and fun characters and with every Michael Bay monstrosity it looks better and better (Transformers 2 and 3 are 2 of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. I just can’t see 4. It’s too much.) Boys deserve better transformers movies and this animated film gives it to them. .
11. Charlotte’s Web- One of the best non-Disney animated musicals. Sweet songs with great vocal performances by Debbie Reynolds and Paul Lynde. It’s actually pretty sad but in a way that will teach kids about friendship and sacrifice.
12. Iron Giant- If you haven’t seen this film, stop what you are doing, go out and watch it. The animation is stunning. The story has real heart and lovely characters. It is a total winner!
13. Paranorman- everyone who thinks I’m a total softy when it comes to darker movies will probably be surprised to find this on my list. I like a good ghost story and this definitely fits the bill. It’s more for teens than children. Some of the images are pretty scary and the humor, like the jock actually being gay, is probably more for teens than little kids. It looks amazing. Has some genuine scares and the story surprised me. Very well done.
14. Simpsons Movie- Everyone is always shocked to find out I love the Simpsons. My favorite show of all time. My brother and sister and I would watch it every week and 26 seasons later still do. The movie is overwritten and could have been better but I still really enjoy it. I love the characters and the HD colors add a nice touch to the movie over the TV show. Simpsons has given me so many laughs I love it. Lisa is my particular favorite.
15. Pirates: Band of Misfits- A movie nobody saw but I really enjoyed. It’s funny with Charles Darwin as our unlikely hero. The stop motion looks great and voice work is engaging. A hidden gem!
16. Curious George- So few movies are made well for children under 5. Curious George is one of those movies. It is sweet and engaging with lovely songs from Jack Johnson. One that is unabashadly for the smallest of children and yet adults won’t be miserable.
17. Lord of the Rings (Bakshi)- It’s not as good as the Peter Jackson movies but it is also a different take on an epic story. To me there is room for multiple retellings of the Lord of the Rings and Bakshi crams a lot of story into this film. Maybe not a masterpiece but I enjoy it. The music is wonderful and characters engrossing. If you like the story of Lord of the Rings give this animated version a chance. I think this is what the Black Cauldron was trying to be and it isn’t near as successful.
18. Batman Mask of the Phantasm- Still my favorite Batman movie (yes, you read right). Intense without being too violent. Batman is interesting without being over-the-top. I hate in the live action movies how the villains are always more interesting than Batman. Not the case here. Great animation. Great voice work. If you haven’t seen it and love the Nolan films give it a shot.
19. Happy Feet- A flawed film but I love the music and it is so unabashedly cheerful I enjoy it. It’s the kind of movie I put in when I’m sick and it brightens my day. Huge talented cast and serviceable story.
20. Charlie Brown Christmas Special- I realize this was for TV but I couldn’t not include it. One of the best Christmas movies ever made. Perfect soundtrack. Lovely message and delightful characters. It focuses on the Christ message of Christmas in a way that is powerful without being overbearing.