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Top 5 Best Animated Movies For Kids
A Grand Field of Animated Stars
The Academy Awards of 2010 contained a field of animated features that figured at least 16 productions. Because animation technology, along with character and story development have progressed geometrically in 2009, the final choice of Best Animated Feature may be difficult.
The beautiful part is that I am privileged to review animated films throughout the year and have an enchanting and exiting time in doing so.
Three out of the total field of animated features are usually nominated for the Academy Award in this category. However, talk has surfaced of the appropriateness of increasing nominations to 5 feature length animations. In case this does come to fruition, the following are my personal choices for nominations in the category of Best Animated Feature Film.
A Christmas Carol (2009) is tied for my favorite with UP and the other three are tied for second place with me!
Disney's A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol - Roger Zemeckis, Directing
If you see this feature, please do so in IMAX 3-D. It is not only 3-D, but nearly virtual reality.
Star Jim Carrey is becoming quite an expert on filming classic stories. First, I saw him as The Grinch That Stole Christmas. Now he is the animated Scrooge and three ghosts as well in A Christmas Carol (2009). His role in The Mask was much like an animation at times and likely prepared him for his current forays into performance capture. The results are incredible.
Wearing the wraparound 3-D goggles for this film, the viewer is presented with action, objects, and characters that come straight out into the theater and into one's face and lap. Sometimes, they pass right by you!
The action takes the viewer on a roller coaster type ride through landscapes and skyways, each causing an actual "stomach drop." In the viewing I attended, people of all ages were reaching out in front of them in attempts to touch the characters and objects and to play in a pool of water.
Animation techniques and equipment are advanced almost to a point at the end of the first decade of the New Millennium at which we might bring back dead actors via animation. Polar Express was a good start, but A Christmas Carol is a good example of things to come - the animation is so realistic in spots, that one thinks a character is flesh and blood.
See an interview with Roger Zemeckis and Jim Carrey at Christmas Carol.
FILM FIRSTS: Coraline - Directed by Henry Selick
Henry Selick is an effective stop-motion director recognized for his direction of such favorites as The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. Mr. Selick's first animated feature for the studio Laika Inc. out of Portland, Oregon is Coraline. Based on the book of the same name by Neil Gaiman, Caroline is the very first 3-D stop-motion animation film ever made. In this, it is a landmark as well as fun to watch. I viewed it with an audience of children and adults on a school field trip and they all appeared thrilled with the film.
This is a story of real parents, other parents, crazy parents, and retired circus acts. All at Halloween. Add a move from Pontiac, Michigan to somewhere in Oregon among secret portals, and it becomes a real adventure into another zone of being.
Many scenes in this film are breathtaking as well as fun. For anyone that enjoys the circus and trapeze acts, scenes of retired acrobats coming youthfully alive again is astonishing. They are all packed up into a boarding house with other acts between supernatural shows.
You'll enjoy the talking cat as well.
See some raves at Rotten Tomatoes Reviews: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/coraline/
LAIKA and Coraline
UP - Directed by Pete Doctor
This animated feature is not only entertaining, but thoughtful and encouraging. It has real meaning for the lives of people and is surely to become a classic film. It will join such wonders as the Wizard of Oz, Wall-E, Alice In Wonderland, and other live action and animated films like them.
A young boy and girl that are followers of a famous archaeologist in the 1930s or 40s meet, become friends and eventually marry. When they are unable to have children, they save their money for a permanent vacation trip - they will transport their home to the top of a Peruvian rock formation over a beautiful waterfall.
Life is cruel, however, and the wife must leave this life for the next - but first, she gives her husband the dream scrapbook she has always kept.
Crusty hubby fights City Hall against modern "progress" and takes his house and leaves town, but not before collecting a couple of stowaways. In Peru, he finds odd feathered creatures and odder humans, along with a pack of talking dogs. But in the dream scrapbook, he finds a reason for being.
The following video review is done very well by a young group of analysts whose habits include profanity, but most of it is bleeped out. See the film if you have the chance.
Rotten Tomatoes Review at http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/up/
A Scene From UP
Chance of Meatballs
Cloudy, with a Chance of Meatballs - Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher MIller
The idea of foodstuffs raining down from the sky is delightful and unheard of, except in a grandfather's tale to his grandchildren about the advent of the supermarket.
The turn of phrase used by some of the animated characters is just so ticklish that one must laugh out loud at this film - several times. A "giant corn" comes forth to steamroller people if they don't run fast enough - but there is plenty of food, all made from water. I'm laughing just thinking of it.
In 3-D, this fim is even more entertaining.
See the Rotten Tomatoes Review at http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1196077/
Up There in the Sky - Food!
Escape 2 Africa
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa - Directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath
Yes, I know that this is a 2008 film, but it should have won in 2009! Let's nominate it again.
The opening are probably the most hilarious characters in this film, next to the Lemur King. be careful drinking your soda when watching this film, because the antics of the birds and lemurs will make you squirt pop through your nose. The release of the animated series on TV has provided extra penguin and lemur entertainment until the next Madagascar film - of which many viewers hope there are a few more to be filmed in the future.
The Penguins of Madagascar remind me quite a lot of the same type of birds in the 3-2-1 Penguins 30-minute videos produced by Big Idea (Veggie Tales). The penguins of Big Idea are the crew of a spacecraft, but fall into similar scrapes as the Madagascar group. Whether on a plane or a space vehicle, animated penguins are a hoot.
While movie sequels often decline in quality, presently plenty of fodder for SNL skits or jokes on the Leno, Letterman, and O'Brien late night shows, Madagascar 2 does not follow other sequels down the mudslide of mediocrity. It possesses a story with a reasonable conflict in its entertaining storyline, with engaging character development - and it is funny - better than the first installment.
Additional animated features of 2009 that could have been added to the "best" list may include
The Illusionist (France/UK)- Directed by Sylvain Chomet (he did The Triplets of Belleville)
This film is based on the 1956 work of the famous pantomime artist and director Jacques Tati of France. His was falling-down hilarious and I have seen his black and white films on TNT and would not have wanted to miss them. The 1956 manuscript for this animated feature was his attempt to win back his estranged daughter. The film is set in 1950s Scotland and looks to be touching and entertaining, much like UP.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs - Directed by Carlos Saldanha and Michael Thurmeier
This film is funnier than episodes 1 and 2 and provides a larger part for the prehistoric squirrel, his acorn (which takes on its own life), and a female squirrel love interest. A new character to join the crew is an Australian or Kiwi weasel called Buck, who chases his own Moby Dick of a dinosaur. Every time you think that the writers might have run out of humor. You are hit with a new dose of it. Madagascar 2 is funnier, but Ice Age 3 is pretty funny!
Planet 51 (Spain/US) - directed by Jorge Blanco, Javier Adad, and Marcos Martinez
This should be funny, although I don't know if it will be award-winning quality. Starring Dwayne Johnson (voice) as the first alien human to set foot on a 1950s planet full of little green men, it should make fun of Earth very well, indeed in our darker times. It wil lmake us laugh at ourselves, Like 3rd Rock From the Sun.
Europe's Most Wanted
This is defintely the best in the Madagascar series to date.
Favorite Animated Feature Oscar Winners
This Oscar or Academy Award was first awarded in 2001, to Shrek. Other nominees included Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and Monsters, Inc. I liked all three of these films.
One of my favorites, UP, won in 2009, among other nominees Coraline (another of my favorites listed in this article), Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and the Frog, and The Secret of Kells.
During the 2010 Academy Awards, the animated feature to win was Toy Story 3, which I did not enjoy much; I thought the first 2 were much better. Other nominees were How to Train Your Dragon and The Illusionist. The last film is another one that I enjoy very much.