Top 10: Non-Pixar Animation

Everyone knows that when it comes to animation, Pixar Animation Studios is king. With a resume filled with classics such as the Toy Story trilogy, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Up, and many more, Pixar has established itself as THE company to talk about when looking for animation, and by combining fantastic visuals with compelling stories that appeal to the whole family, the studio has become a critical and commercial milestone, winning 26 Academy Awards so far. However, because of Pixar’s mighty presence, many other animated movies get thrown to the wayside because they don’t have the Pixar stamp on it. While in year’s past this hasn’t mattered much, 2012 has been one hell of a year for non-Pixar animated movies; while Pixar’s annual effort, Brave, was nice and friendly, it doesn’t compare in the slightest to the incredible work of ParaNorman, Frankenweenie, and, as of this weekend, Wreck-It Ralph. To celebrate, we decided to take a look back at a slew of non-Pixar animated movies to see which were the best of the best:

.

 10. Coraline (2009) – Based on Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed novel of the same name, Coraline is the story about an adventurous girl who finds a portal to another world that is strangely similar to her own, but hides some very sinister secrets. While the story of an alternate reality in which everything is pretty much backwards is very intriguing (and very reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland), the visuals are what really make this film shine. Shot in glorious stop motion, Coraline delivers an animation style that mixes illustrious brightness and sinister darkness in a very complex way and gives the film a very different, more mature sense of direction that many animated films never achieve.

.

.

9. Chicken Run (2000) – From the studio that brought us the very popular Wallace & Gromit series, Chicken Run centers around a group of chickens who seek a Rhode Island Red as their only way of survival after their farm decides to stop selling eggs and start making chicken pies. Although there are many great facets to this film, its comedy is what really sets it above most other animated movies. Not only is the humor gut-bustingly subtle, but it also contains intelligence and relevance to the point where I still laugh at scenes that I replay now (the scene in which the mouse says quiet like a fish had me laughing hysterically).

.

.

8. How to Train Your Dragon (2010) – When dragons and Vikings get mixed up in the same movie, you know you’re in for a treat. How to Train Your Dragon is the story of a young Viking who aspires to hunt dragons but ends up befriending one and learns there might be more to these creatures that he previously thought. This is truly one of DreamWorks’ best efforts, and from the compelling and heartwarming story to the great chemistry between Hiccup and Toothless, this film has everything that an animation lover could want and is great for all ages. Oh, and if you caught the film in theaters, you were treated to some of the most breathless use of 3D to date (the flight scenes were spectacular) – in other words, I’m already anticipating the sequel!

.

.

7. Shrek (2001) –Based on the fairy tale of the same name, Shrek follows the story of an ogre who travels to rescue a princess for a lord in order to regain his swamp, though we’re guessing you probably knew that already since this animated romp is one of the most beloved films of the past decade. While there are many things about this film that work, the fact that it is a parody of the classic fairy tale story is easily the best thing about it, and you can watch it hundred times and discover a new homage or element of satire to feast on and force you to return again. It’s also hilariously funny, and the banter between Shrek and Donkey is timeless; I mean, who can forget their debate about onions having layers? Shrek is easily one of the most popular and most influential animated films to come out since 2000 and it’s easily one of the most entertaining.

.

.

6. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) – From the inventive Wes Anderson, the creator of The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Fantastic Mr. Fox is the story of a fox that cannot resist returning to his life of thievery when his community needs him and his set of skills to survive. Although I was at first worried that this was way out of Wes Anderson’s comfort zone, he proved to be up to the challenge entirely, delivering an absorbing story that kept me engaged throughout. With fantastic voice acting by George Clooney and Meryl Streep, plus Anderson’s wacky trademark style formatted for animation (if you loved Moonrise Kingdom this summer than this should be a natural follow-up), Fantastic Mr. Fox is an animated experience that you don’t want to miss.

.

.

5. Beauty and the Beast (1991) – Following the story of the French fairy tale and the 1946 film of the same name, Beauty and the Beast follows Belle, a young woman who offers herself as captive to a Beast in order to spare her father and discovers he is an enchanted prince. This is a film that resonates in everyone’s hearts, and it very well should. The compelling story combines with the almost perfect character development to create what is regarded to be the greatest love story ever portrayed in animation, which is a statement that I can get behind. Besides, who could hate those dancing pieces of silverware?

.

.

4. The Lion King (1994) – Walt Disney Animation Studio’s (the company behind Beauty and the Beast as well) followed up the very successful Aladdin with The Lion King, the story of Simba, a young lion who, after being tricked into thinking he killed his father, runs away and abandons his rightful place as King. What really impresses me about this film is that, despite talking animals and lively musical numbers, its themes are rooted in reality, and the premises of greed, jealousy, and needing to grow up that take place in our everyday lives are portrayed fantastically in this film, making it more relatable and so much more human. Even after all these years, The Lion King never fails to show a sense of reality that is surprisingly persona. Plus, ‘Hakuna Matata’ is a really catchy tune and a wonderful phrase.

.

.

3. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – Originated in a poem written by Tim Burton while he was an animator at Disney, The Nightmare Before Christmas tells the story of Jack Skellington, the King of Halloweentown, who accidently discovers Christmastown but doesn’t quite understand it. With a story that is compelling and wildly imaginative, jaw dropping visuals, and Danny Elfman’s greatest score to date (“This is Halloween” is fantastic), this Tim Burton story is easily one of the best Halloween films and one you would be dumb to not experience at least once. Not only is this film one of the best-animated films ever made, but also it is easily the best stop-motion animation ever created, period.

.

.

2. Spirited Away (2001) – Written and directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, Spirited Away follows a 10 year-old girl who, in the middle of her family’s move, wanders into a world filled with gods, witches, and spirits. Easily one of the most hyped animated films, people always regard Spirited Away as one of the greatest feats of animation to ever exist, which in my opinion is a pretty accurate statement. With a fantastic and original premise, a groundbreaking visual style (the shot of Chihiro walking through the field of flowers is strikingly beautiful), and the complexity of No-Face, a spirit who attaches to our heroine Chihiro, Spirited Away is animation that does everything right and it’s damn thrilling – this is one masterpiece.

.

.

1. The Iron Giant (1999) – Based on the 1968 novel written by Ted Hughes, The Iron Giant centers around a boy named Hogarth who finds and befriends a giant alien robot that the government is adamant about destroying. While all of the aspects of this film are executed perfectly, The Iron Giant is and always will be my favorite animation because it is the one that always plays with my emotions the most effectively. Hogarth’s description of death to the giant and the climactic scene with the missile and the giant’s words “You stay, I go, no following” are scenes that have always been able to tug on my heart strings and continue to be my favorite and most memorable scenes in all of cinematic history. The Iron Giant is a masterpiece that transcends great animation with a story more compelling that any other animation out there, and should be a definite for anyone’s must watch list.

.

So those are my picks for greatest animations that aren’t affiliated with Pixar. What are your favorites? Do you agree with my list or think it is completely wrong? Have you seen Wreck-It Ralph? Sound off in the response section below, I’m really curious to hear your thoughts.

Article by Nick Franco

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s