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The first classic category that AFI (American Film Institute) covers with its AFI’s Top 10 Top 10 list is Animation. Before anyone cries out about the exclusion of anime films, remember that this list only covers American made films. Here, the AFI list skews older and is dominated by Disney (and Pixar) films.
Snow White pioneered the way for future animated movies with its mix of story, music and visual gags. AFI has recognized Snow White before as it is #49 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies, #10 on 100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains, #19 on 100 Years…100 Songs and #34 on its 100 Years…100 Movies – 10th Anniversary Edition.
This classic story of the wooden puppet who wants to be a real boy has also been recognized by AFI before as it is #7 on the 100 Years…100 Songs and #38 on the 100 Years…100 Cheers.
Who didn’t cry when Bambi’s mother was shot? Bambi is a coming of age story that introduced pathos and adult themes into what had been until now a mostly children’s genre.
Disney’s second Golden Age of animation started with The Little Mermaid in 1989 and continued on through the 2000’s until the increasingly popular computer animated films, starting with Toy Story, took over the genre. The Lion King represents the pinnacle of Disney’s second Golden Age of hand-drawn animation with its Shakespearean-like story, lush visuals and songs by Elton John and Tim Rice.
Of course, the sequence that most people remember from this groundbreaking film is The Sorcerer’s Apprentice starring Mickey Mouse as a would-be sorcerer. Fantasia is a unique movie that melds classical music with stunning animated visual images. With a few exceptions, there is very little narrative as most of the images are paired with the rhythm and intensity of the music. AFI previously recognized this movie on its 100 Years…100 Movies list at #58.
6. Toy Story
The first ever feature length computer animated film, Toy Story takes an inventive visual style that showcases what you could do with computers and added it to a great story. Unlike many other animated films and even live action films, Toy Story places its story at the forefront and hangs its unique stylistic elements on it. Although it is the first computer animated film, looking back at now, the movie still looks amazing and sucks you in to the story of Woody and Buzz. AFI recognized this movie as #99 on its 100 Years…100 Movies – 10th Anniversary Edition.
The first and only feature-length animated film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, this movie based on the fairy tale introduced the blending of traditional animation with computer generated imagery. As groundbreaking as the visual elements were, what really captured people’s imagination was the romantic, almost operatic story at the center of the movie that sent the rare message in today’s pop culture that looks are not everything. AFI previously recognized this movie at #34 of its 100 Years…100 Passions list, #62 of its 100 Years…100 Songs and #22 of its Greatest Movie musicals.
The only non-Disney film on this list (Pixar Studios is now owned by Disney), Shrek is an anomaly in more ways than one. Personally, I can’t stand this movie. It’s derivative and obvious and the animation looks cut rate compared to the Pixar films. Still, this movie was a monster hit and even did well critically. Little did anyone know it would spawn two sequels with another on the way.
This classic fairy tale has spawned a cottage industry of commercializing little girls’s desires to be princesses. Every little girl wants to be Cinderella. Of course this just shows you how powerful the story and imagery is in this classic Disney film. While the story may not appeal to all (mainly those of the male persuasion), the story telling will.
10 Finding Nemo
A clownfish that isn’t funny who just happens to be an overprotective father. A regal tang with short term memory loss. A vegetarian shark. Selfish sea gulls. Put them together and you have one of the most entertaining animated films ever. Produced by Pixar, this movie has a story that both kids and adults will love. It’s one of the most critically acclaimed animated films ever with a 98% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Few will argue that Finding Nemo doesn’t belong on this list.
If you look at AFI’s list, you’ll see that most of the movies skew older and all, with the exception of Shrek, were produced by Disney. While certainly a classic film, is Snow White really the best American animated film ever? Sure, there are many subtle visual jokes and the animation is rich, but the character of Snow White herself is a little bland. Does it really deserve to be #1? And while the Moose is a firm believer of recognizing the pioneers that came before you, is Cinderella really better than a movie like The Iron Giant or Ratatouille?
The Moose can’t stand Shrek and does not believe it belongs on this list as it takes up a space that could be occupied by a better and more deserving film. In fact if it were up to the Moose, I would first get rid of the numerical rankings and instead just recognize the 10 movies as the best of the genre without having to empirically rank them against each other. Then the Moose replace Snow White, Shrek, Cinderella and The Lion King with the The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Brad Bird trifecta of Ratatouille, The Incredibles and The Iron Giant.
Let me know what you all think.
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