I love animated movies. Here are some that I love, that I think you should watch, too. And I’m putting them in no particular order.
Based on the graphic novel memoir of Majane Satrapi, Persepolis is a true story of growing up in Iran after the Islamic Revolution and during the Iranian war with Iraq. It’s gripping and scary, and retains the style of the original black and white illustrations. I highly recommend reading the book first, so you can appreciate the frames reproduced directly in the film. It’s sad and funny, and the feminist ideals of the author remain intact in the film version.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS
Before Peter Jackson’s sprawling adaptation, Ralph Bakshi’s animated condensing of Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings and The Two Towers were the only way to experience a film version of the fantasy epic. The film doesn’t stick to one animation style, utilizing rotoscoping, solarization live-action, and psychedelic lighting effects for a look that’s staggeringly unique. While significant cuts were made to fit the story into its two hour run time and the Rankin-Bass sequel was far inferior in comparison, this is worth watching, even if only to find the scenes that Peter Jackson blatantly cribbed for his version.
The premise of Inside Out is fairly simple: your emotions are little creatures that live inside your head. Isn’t that quirky? Disney/Pixar could have gotten by on silliness alone, but instead they used the chance to show the effects of clinical depression on a preteen girl, in a way that audiences of all ages can understand. When Joy and Sadness go missing in Riley’s brain, only Disgust, Fear, and Anger are left to drive her through her day to day life. As Joy and Sadness struggle to help Riley, she shrinks from her old interest, friends, and finally her family. It sounds like a total bummer, but it’s packed with as much humor as sentimentality. As a bonus, it can give kids a better understanding of mental illness without the veneer of social stigma distorting the message.
THE PRINCE OF EGYPT
There are some stories that can just work better as animated movies. The scope of the story of the Exodus is huge, would require a cast of thousands or expensive CGI effects, and expensive locations. Dreamworks’s decision to animate it was a stroke of brilliance. Without the hindrance of having to pay extras or build elaborate sets, they were free to create a true cinema epic that, despite being marketed to families, pulls no punches depicting the brutality of slavery and the horrors of the biblical plagues. And while there are shockingly few Jewish actors or People of Color portraying Hebrew characters or character of color in the voice cast (off the top of my head, only Jeff Goldblum, Danny Glover, and Ofra Haza come to mind), the stylized visuals are stunning, the music is Broadway caliber, and the story proves powerful enough to resonate across cultural and religious lines.
THE LAST UNICORN
This is not only my favorite animated movie of all time, but it’s high in the running for my favorite movie overall. I rented this one over and over when I was a kid, but it was only after I watched it as an adult that I truly understood its themes of the destructiveness of possession, the danger of hubris, and longing to be something that you’re not. The visuals are enchanting, the voice cast is like this ridiculous cavalcade of talent, and I hardly ever watch it anymore because I can’t make it through the main titles (and the theme song, written and performed by America, as are all the tracks) before I burst into tears.