The Best Animated Films of the 2000s - Part IV of a series
Persepolis (c) 2007 2.4.7 Films
Okay, I tried not to do a list of animations, as I feel it's less of a genre, more of a film-making style. But it turned out not that many animations are actually easily divided into other genres. So here I have a whole post to just celebrate this style, which created many of the very best films of the decade.
I have already mentioned the following films in these lists:
Howl's Moving Castle
The Simpsons Movie
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (which had its premiere in Finland in 2000)
Team America: World Police
So that makes ten great animations that you should've checked out. Here's ten more.
The Triplets of Belleville
2003, Dir. Sylvain Chomet
It's almost like France: The Movie. We have near-wordless slapstick, film noir influences, caricatures, frog-eating, cabaret and of course the whole film revolves around bicycling. I love France, thus I also love the film. I saw it in French, but luckily it has very little dialogue in it. Also director Sylvain Chobet's animated world is cute as hell and impossible to resist. Funny, too.
2006, Dir. David Bowers, Sam Fell
Aardman is every bit as good in the animation game as Pixar, but alas, unlike Pixar they can fail at the box office. It doesn't matter that this is one of the funniest animated movies of the decade packed to the rafters with good ones. It's also lovably british although the actors are major movie stars as they are won't to be in most of these cases. But besides the European sense of humour, no-one quite does action sequences like Aardman, and they have cute animated animals (snails here) in small parts to boot. Come to think of it, the film maybe plays it a bit too close to its American counterparts. It is a computer-generated movie, after all, and not claymation, where Aardman excels.
Mary And Max
2009, Dir. Adam Elliot
This is one of those quirky films few people outside film festival crowds ever get the chance to see. But if you get the chance, I would urge you to see it. The audience at last year's Helsinki International Film Festival loved it and so did I. It's an Australian claymation film about a little girl who becomes a pen pal with a mentally ill, morbidly obese New Yorker. It treats life as a series of pretty unfortunate events, the film is mostly black and white, and it's certainly not for too young children. But in the end, it is a funny, uplifting, a little sad story about unlikely (platonic) friendships that last forever. Nice, although one might think it makes fun of mental illnesses.
2007, Directors: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
Traditional animation is, alas, quite rare on this list. But clearly the greatest masterpiece that art created this decade, is this film. Based on the autobiographical graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi, it is smart enough to adapt only the parts that are suited for cinema. Satrapi has added a great deal of good stuff to the film too. The black and white movie follows her story from the rebellious punk rock childhood in ever-more religious Iran, to her blossoming adulthood (which may be even darker times) in France. Funny, thought-provoking, a little sad and always intelligent, this is one for the ages.
Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea
2008, Dir. Hayao Miyazaki
I'll have to have at least one anime here, to balance things out. And wow, I still have one Miyazaki film left (Hayao, not Goro). Cuteness overload! The pure Miyazaki charm doesn't fail this time, either. The story of the Little Mermaid made at least ten years younger makes the princess of the sea wreack all sorts of havock on land. And how Miyazaki pictures this havock! Giant waves, flooded villages, and of course, the underwater world crawlinmg with life. Nothing ever made by a computer can even come close to its magnificence.
2007, Dir. Brad Bird
Pixar on top form once again. This is the film after the dire Cars, that started the studio's new reneissance. The old buddy formula gets weird from here on, as here it's a puppet master rat controlling a bumbling youngster, both on their way to become great chefs. As it usually is in American animations, this one has a little too much of "believe in your dreams" messages. However, it does come with a twist this time. It is encouraged this time to follow your skills along with your heart, as Linguini shouldn't clearly be a chef. Also charming, particularly in the few second's silent flashback to the childhood of Anton Ego, which explains everything there is to know about the character. Brad Bird's best film.
The Spongebob SquarePants Movie
2004, Dir. Stephen Hillenburg
One TV-spurned film I just can't resist is this SpongeBob one. Maybe I'm a retard or a pothead or immature, but I just find his escapades funny. Plus, in finnish, he's named like my name! The plot doesn't matter that much in this, as it's mostly just weird set-pieces of Spongebob's adventures across the sea. But it's got a live-action cameo from a very sea-worthy actor, an actually pretty threatening villain (not talking about Plankton here) and heaps of hilarity. Good for hung-over mornings.
Terkel in Trouble
2004, Directors: Stefan Fjeldmark, Kresten Vestbjerg Andersen, Thorbjørn Christoffersen
(I apologize for the bad english dubbing)
As the finnish animations of this decade were good in only copying better ones (Niko), or to contain political caricatures and to just be a very moronic farce (Keisarin salaisuus), leave it to the danish to get Scandinavia on the list. The anarchistic film is crude, and very slapstick-heavy. And of course hilarious, as forks are shoved to eyes, sledgehammers used on crotchs and babies ears bitten off. The film deals with a prepubcescent boy going to summer camp. He feels guilty of getting a fat girl to commit suicide, and as if things aren't bad enough already, someone is trying to kill him, too. All the characters are created and voiced by the same person, comedian Anders Matthesen. And they are pretty great characters, too. My favorite is the constantly drunk and violent sailor-uncle.
2009, Directors: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
One more of Pixar's greatest, a bar, which has constantly been raised. It is a pure fairy-tale, even though it has humans as its main characters. That's why one mustn't be nit-picky about the story's plot-holes and Deus ex machinas. Even though it is unusual for Pixar to have as many. Still, you simply must love a movie with as plenty of laugh-out-loud moments (The Road Runner-homaging works nicely) and as much heart. The highlight in this is most touching montage in any film ever since Battleship Potemkin. And maybe even better than that.
Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit
2005, Directors: Steve Box, Nick Park
I just love these characters. I was worried that the longer length and the American producer would harm the british charm of the classic W&G adventures. But I was clearly wrong. aardman can't do wrong. This is a wildly hilarious send-up of Hammer horror films. As always, Wallace's machines create the problem, this time creating the titular beast eating the townsfolk's prized vegetables. It's up to Wallace and Gromit (mostly Gromit) to stop this. This is just a brilliant gag-filled comedy, mixing slapstic, situation comedy, little background gags, and humour you can only do in animation. All the while never underestimating anyone in the audience, whatever their age. Cracking!
This time, I had to include some films bubbling just under the list. Man, this decade's animated films were good.
The Emperor's New Groove
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
The Kingdom of the Cats