Cinema’s Top Five: Animated Films

By Justin Meinken, Contributer Writer

#5: Coraline (2009)

Director: Henry Selick

After the recent smash hit of “Kubo and the Two Strings,” some have looked back to the origins of Laika with their first film, “Coraline.” Laika is a small stop-motion animation studio located in the Portland metropolitan area in Oregon. The film was nominated for both the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature. Complete with eerie set designs and intense visuals, this is a disturbing fantasy that is not for the faint of heart, based upon the book of the same titled by Neil Gaiman.

#4: Wolf Children (2012)

Director: Mamoru Hosoda

After assembling an exceptional team of animators and film production specialists, production company Studio Chizu created their first film, “Wolf Children” and the film premiered on June 25, 2012 in Paris. Though “Wolf Children” never got an official U.S. theatrical release, most people who are familiar with Japanese Anime have heard of this film. It is a story of a college student, Hana, who falls in love with a new student. Together, Hana and her new family have to try and fit into a society that doesn’t really accept them. Although the film seems very sci-fi, the end result is a captivating drama that focuses mainly on the difficulties of raising a family.

#3: Princess Mononoke (1999)

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Standing as the highest grossing animated film in Japan of all time, “Princess Mononoke” premiered on July 12, 1997 in Japan with an official U.S. release on Oct. 29, 1999. Since “Spirited Away” is widely credited as Hayao Miyazaki’s best work, “Princess Mononoke” is usually glossed over by many critiques. In the film, a young prince must find a spirit to heal a curse given to him by a demon, all while deciding which side to take in the upcoming war: the people he’s fought alongside his entire life or defend the forest that is under the command of Princess Mononoke. Though this small plot summary may seem similar to many Disney films, “Princess Mononoke” distances itself greatly by displaying some of the most intense action sequences and breath-taking visuals in animated films to date.

#2: The Iron Giant (1999)

Directed by Brad Bird

Based upon the novel “The Iron Man” written by Ted Hughes in 1968, “The Iron Giant” made its film debut in America on July 31, 1999. Bird has continued to work in the world of animation, serving as the director of Disney Pixar films “Ratatouille” and “The Incredibles”. This film, however, was produced by Warner Brothers. Set in 1957 Cold War America, a young boy named Hogarth and the giant he comes across must work together to thwart the government agents now knocking on their front door. In their journey together, Hogarth will discover more about himself as well as learning more about his larger-than-life companion.  With a family friendly style and an incredible final act, “The Iron Giant” is definitely a must see and is easily one of the greatest animated films of all time.

#1: Your Name (2017)

Directed by Makoto Shinkai

The official U.S. theatrical release date is not until April 2017, however, it had an early-screening in Dec. 2016 for an Oscar qualifying run although it did not receive a nomination. The film is based upon Makoto Shinkai’s own novel of the same name, two students wake up in different bodies every day. This makes for some excellent comedic moments, but the story quickly takes a dark turn as they discover the true meaning behind their connection and the dangers of the future. Science fiction, mystery, drama, and romance all seamlessly blend into one to make “Your Name” an animation classic before it’s even had an official release.

Cinema Top Five is a new Arts & Entertainment column.