Friday, November 13, 2009

best animated movies of 2009

2009 was such a terrific year for animated movies that I decided to give them their own list. Not all of these originally came out in 2009, but that's when I first saw them. As always, your mileage may vary.

In order of preference:

After his wife dies, a cranky old man named Carl faces eviction from his home. Refusing to cave in, he ties thousands of balloons to the roof and sets out for Paradise Falls, the place he and his wife always dreamed of visiting. This may be a kid's movie, but it's probably one of the best meditations on love and loss that I've ever seen. There's a sequence at the beginning that shows Carl and his wife Ellie throughout their marriage, and by the end, I was scrubbing tears away from my face with a handful of scratchy napkins. But don't worry, it's not a downer flick; there are plenty of funny lines and exciting action sequences too, and the animation is breathtaking. As of this writing, it's not just my favorite animated film of 2009; it's my favorite film of 2009 period.

An absolutely stunning animated film that combines the Indian story of the Ramayana with the story of a modern marriage that has fallen apart. Factor in 1920's jazz and you have something wholly original. Unfortunately, copyright problems with the music have kept this movie from being commercially distributed, but you can watch it online for free (and legally!). Nina Paley, the creator, has links for watching it on her website. If you love animation, you need to see this. Shit, if you love MOVIES, you ought to check it out. Something this unique deserves to be supported.

A devastating animated documentary about the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the early 1980's. The director fought in the war on the Israeli side, and trying to fill in the gaps in his memory, he interviewed other people who were there. What's especially impressive is that I thought most of the movie was rotoscoped, but it's actually a combination of Flash and computer/traditional animation.

Warning: at the very end of the movie, the animation gives way to real footage of a massacre's aftermath, and it is EXTREMELY upsetting, especially the final picture. If you're sensitive, you may want to stop the movie as soon as that footage starts.

A breathtakingly gorgeous stop-motion animated film about a girl who finds a doorway to another world in her new house. In the other world, the parents who ordinarily ignore her are attentive and loving, and it's filled with magical gardens and tasty treats. But if she wants to stay there, she has to let her "Other Mother" sew buttons over her eyes. Deliciously creepy.

Based on one of my favorite graphic novels, this is about a headstrong young girl growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. The art is generally simple, but the story is compelling.

When zombies infest an airport, Claire Redfield and Leon Kennedy reunite to take them out and uncover the truth behind the new outbreak. I'll be honest, if you're not a fan of the games, there probably isn't much here for you; otherwise, this is a must-see. The CGI is practically flawless, there are some great action scenes, and the voice acting (which includes Claire and RE4 Leon's original voice actors, as well as many other veteran anime/video game voice actors) is excellent.

Note: In the US, this is called Resident Evil: Degeneration. I doubt I had to explain that to this movie's target audience, but just so's you know.

The canine star of an action TV show gets separated from his beloved human costar, and he tries to make his way back to her. However, he doesn't really have the superpowers he thinks he does, which makes things a little difficult. Cute and surprisingly funny (especially the manic hamster).

Afro's father's corpse is stolen from its grave, and Afro's out for blood...LOTS of blood. A visual masterpiece; the Japanese festival scene is especially impressive.

A feature length animated film that provides some much needed backstory for the video game. It's incredibly gory and an awful lot of fun, although---like the Resident Evil movie mentioned above---I doubt it would hold much appeal for non-fans.

Charming and beautifully animated movie about a teenage girl who discovers that she can leap through time, but even the smallest changes she makes in the past have enormous consequences. This probably would have ranked higher, but I was really tired when I saw it.