Best independent animated films of all time
In the global film market, animated films continue to be some of the most popular, grossing, and critically acclaimed titles to come out of Hollywood every year. Studios like Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, and Illumination have built an industry by producing dazzling popcorn movies that are capable of entertaining the whole family on a biannual basis. Great studio animated films are a testament to the medium and have been childhood favorites for generations, but as films they only scratch the surface of what can be done with this art form. .
Independent animated films are the place of production of the medium’s most daring, experimental and profound works. While they may not win as many coveted Best Animated Feature Awards, they are more lopsided and often personal than works released by large conglomerates. They tackle more difficult topics, explore deeper themes, and demonstrate a level of artistry that sets them apart from CGI blockbusters.
Here is a selection of some of the best animated works from the indie scene:
The Belleville Triplets (2003)
When her cycling grandson is kidnapped by French gangsters, a nearsighted lady and her slender-legged dog team up with three elderly vaudeville singers to bring him home. Written and directed by Sylvain Chomet, The Triplets of Belleville is a bizarre odyssey featuring a charming, grotesque aesthetic and an otherworldly musical soundscape. The story is told mostly without dialogue and relies on the expressions and movements of its characters strangely designed to advance the plot, making it a virtually silent film.
Tomm Moore’s Irish Folklore Trilogy
Over the past ten years the Irish director Tom moore and his Kilkenny-based Cartoon Saloon studio have produced the greatest hand-drawn works on this side of the 21st century. A little like Edgar wrightCornetto Trilogy, Moore has made three thematically related accompanying films in what has come to be called his “Irish Folklore Trilogy,” consisting of The secret of Kells (2009), Song of the sea (2014) and Wolfwalkers (2020). Each film tells a full-scale coming of age story rooted in Irish mythology, featuring forest elves, selkies and guardians of the wilderness. The connective tissue between each of these films is the exploration of man’s relationship to nature and the unknown, told through impeccably rendered art. These films and other Cartoon Saloon works carry on the tradition of timeless, handcrafted masterpieces.
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Fantastic Mr. Fox is as intelligently composed as its holder Vulpes vulpes. Based on Roald dahlIn the book of the same name, the film is both a classic animal fable and an urban adult comedy, telling the story of a cunning fox’s fight for survival amid a heated family drama. George clooney runs a cast decorated with award-winning actors to bring Wes andersonthe eccentric dialogue and direction of bustling life for the first time. Anderson’s author’s vision flourishes in animation as his style of symmetrically graphical shot compositions and camera movements are manipulated down to the smallest detail, resulting in shots that are among the most visually striking. and the most minimalist of his filmography. Fantastic Mr. Fox is a swear fantastic movie.
Loving Vincent (2017)
Loving Vincent is as close to living art as a film can be. Inspired by the life and death of the master painter Vincent Van Gogh, each of the 65,000 images of the film is rendered on canvas in oil paint by an international team of 125 artists. Live actor footage has been rotoscoped and painstakingly translated using techniques and mediums that Van Gogh himself practiced in life as the film explores the tensions of his despair and the darkness of his final moments. The film delves into the style of Van Gogh’s color expressionist world by depicting its atmosphere in the master’s most famous pieces. Loving Vincent is far from another animated film. It is an artistic triumph.
There have been dozens of movies and specials that aimed to reimagine the legend of Santa Claus and its origins that are played out endlessly every year, but none have done it as deeply or to the point as Netflix’s modern vacation masterpiece. Klaus recounts how the altruistic actions of a fish factor out of the water (Jason schwartzman) and a woodcarver hermit (JK Simmons) warmed the hearts of an entire city and redefined Christmas itself. Director Sergio Pablos, former Disney host and original creator of Despicable Me, sought to make the animation style of the film reflect what traditional hand-drawn animation would look like had it progressed without being overshadowed by the rise of computer animation. The end result is a beautifully animated treat that’s just as compelling as a holiday tale as the greatest Christmas movies of all time, and which visually stands above the choppy seasonal classics of Rankin / Bass.
Charlie kaufmanthe first foray into animation, Anomalisa is not at all a family film. Along with the R-rating and the dialogue-intensive script, the film explores themes of identity, isolation and mental illness that would be entirely lost to a younger audience. Michael (David Thewlis) lives his life convinced that everyone around him is the same person, part of a collective hive spirit pitted against him, until he meets Lisa (Janet Jason Leigh), with which he fell in love with his unique individuality. On paper, this film could have been easily performed live-action or in any other medium, but the film uses the fact that it is animated to create vivid scenes and images that enhance the storyline and reinforce the themes. Michael’s stop-motion puppet mouthpiece drops, everyone around him has the same face and voice, and the eerie nature of the aesthetic arouses feelings of anxiety.
Based on the autobiographical graphic novels of the same name, Persepolis tells the story of the film’s author and co-director Marjane Satrapi from his childhood in Iran in the midst of the Islamic revolution to rebellious adulthood. The comic roots of the film are far from being forgotten as virtually every scene and shot is rendered in the graphic monochrome style of the original books and composed as if they were still illustrations. Persepolis transforms what would otherwise be a serious portrait of Satrapi’s life and turns it into a gripping celebration of his youth.
Millennial Actress (2001)
Directed by an anime visionary Satoshi Kon, Millennial actress is a testament to young love and the art of cinema itself. When a famous Japanese film studio goes bankrupt, two documentary filmmakers interview the studio’s biggest star and follow her as she tells the story of her life and the love she never had. As Kon’s second feature film, it continues the blurring of realities and the cost of fame previously explored in Perfect blue, but stands as Kon’s best edited film. As the film delves deeper into the older starlets’ long-standing careers, the line between the life she’s lived and the roles she’s played on-screen overlaps and overlaps as both are about a first romance that was regretfully stolen from him. Kon’s biggest hallmark as an animation director is his editing, and the film cuts between perspectives and timelines in fluid and poetically disorienting material. Of the late director’s four feature films, Millennial actress feels the most personal and the most accessible.
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