Animated feature films don’t get as much credit as they should. Not only do they take significant technical skill in terms of classic film structure, they require a large, well-organized and brilliant animation department to make it to the big screen. Here are 10 amazing animated features that will make you think, did I really just sit through a two and a half hour cartoon and enjoy myself?
This cyberpunk anime has become a cult classic. Based on the popular manga by the film’s director Katsuhiro Otomo; it’s got creepy kid psychics, futuristic biker gangs and some of the coolest animation sequences of all time. Kaneda and Tetsuo are run-of-the mill miscreants until Tetsuo’s latent psychic powers released (rivaling the phenomenon known as Akira-a deceased psychic) threaten to destroy New Tokyo. Today, Japanese director, screenwriter and manga artist Katushiro Otomo continues to direct both live action and animated features.
Released in 2009 by Pixar Animation Studios and directed by Peter Docter; Up is a heartwarming tale about never giving up on your dreams, not matter how old you are or where they may take you. Our elderly hero (voiced by Ed Asner) and his unlikely Wilderness Adventurer companion Russell fly in a home-made toy balloon powered blimp to Paradise Falls, where they befriend what’s got to be a snipe and a talking dog. This movie will make you cry, but then again, what Pixar flick doesn’t?
Princess Mononoke (1997)
Hayao Miyazaki might just be the master of Japanese animated cinema. It seems everything he and animation firm Studio Ghibli produces becomes an instant classic. Princess Mononoke is a period drama, focusing on the struggle between the supernatural guardians of the forests and the greed of humans, encroaching upon the forests for its iron supply; and the two humans entangled on each side of the battle- cursed prince Ashitaka and San, who lives among the Wolf clan.
Who says a good parody film can’t be animated and voiced by some of the world’s most successful comedy actors? DreamWorks certainly saw the profitability, and hired actors John Lithgow, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz, along with the Oscar winning team of Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio to pen it. The result is a laugh till you cry morality tale of why a good character is more powerful than good looks. Not to mention it established Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks Animation Company as a serious competitor in the animation film world.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937)
Ranked in AFI as the greatest animated film of all time, Snow White was also Disney’s first feature length film. This classic fairy tale written by the Brothers Grimm oh so many ages ago utilized the rotoscoping technique, in which animators trace over live action footage frame by frame to create realistic movement in animation. The phenomenal box office achievement of Snow White paved the way for Disney’s future successes; and the rotoscope technique is still used today, most recently in the film A Scanner Darkly (2006. Directed by Richard Linklater).
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