I’m no expert on animated films, but I thought I’d put together my personal top 10 list. Put another way, if I was going on a three-month trip to the North Pole, these are the 10 animated films I’d bring with me.
1. The Incredibles (2004) – A middle-aged super hero comes out of retirement, along with his also-super family. Good story, humor, tone, art, and animation make this Pixar film the number one on my list (and many other peoples’ lists too). Grade = A.
2. Coraline (2009) – This film from Laika Studios could easily have been my number one. Coraline visits the Other World which isn’t quite as nice as it first seems. The film reminds me of Alice in Wonderland (which I like a lot), but better. Just the right amount of scary to make the film interesting to adults but suitable for children. Grade = A.
3. Spirited Away (2001) – I’ve only seen the American version (but I probably wouldn’t appreciate the nuances of the original Japanese version from Ghibli Studios anyway). Another film with some similarities to Alice in Wonderland. A ten-year-old girl enters the spirit world and attempts to rescue her parents who have been turned into pigs by a witch. Grade = A.
4. Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) – Kubo, a one-eyed Japanese boy who doesn’t look very Japanese, must prevent his evil grandfather and two evil aunts from taking his other eye and killing his mother. Fascinating film. Grade = A-.
5. Finding Nemo (2003) – Everyone has seen this Pixar film. I most enjoyed the interesting characters that are introduced along Nemo’s father’s journey. This film isn’t as adult as the first four on my list. Grade = A-.
6. Monsters University (2013) – I preferred this Pixar sequel to the orginal 2001 “Monsters, Inc” but I’m in the minority on this opinion. I really liked the story because it centered on school and education. Grade = A-.
7. Sleeping Beauty (1959) – I somewhat surprised myself by not placing any traditional Disney animated films in my top five. I had a tough time choosing between Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio, and Peter Pan — three great films — but in the end I picked Sleeping Beauty because of the final fight sequence with Maleficent. Grade = A-.
8. How to Train Your Dragon (2010) – I postponed watching this film for years becaue the story just didn’t sound interesting. But this DreamWorks film has a great balance of plot, action, and character development. Grade = A-.
9. Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001) – This Disney film got very poor reviews and was a box office disappointment. But I really liked the film’s setting and beautiful animation. If the plot had been just a bit better, this film might have been a classic and in my top three. Grade B+.
10. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole (2010) – I’m the only one I know who even likes this animated film, much less would put it in their top 10. The story is very adult and quite violent. I don’t know what they were thinking about with the title though. Grade = B+.