I thought I might do a part II to my favorite films of 2016, but instead I’ve decided to pick some of my favorite animated films of 2016 instead. Maybe there are some great ones out there I’ve missed and I’d love to hear about them so tweet at me or leave a comment. (Unfortunately I haven’t seen Moana yet) And’a here we go, in no particular order;
The Jungle Book – Walt Disney / Fairview Entertainment
Director: Jon Favreau
DP: Bill Pope
Box Office Revenue: $966.6mm
I consider this an animated film. It’s like a swap of what was traditionally thought of when you heard combined live action & animation. The boy Mowgli is the live action element inserted into an otherwise all CG film. The work done by Weta Digital is simply incredible, and reason enough to check out this film, but Favreau and team did a fantastic job of sticking to the spirit of the original source material. They changed the look and feel but not the message, and did an incredible job retelling the story. The cast of voice actors was perfectly chosen. One of those films where I forget about who is doing the voices, and think of them as their actual characters. Except for Walken, there is no mistaking that voice. I did feel the musical numbers brought the pace to a halt, but that was my only real critique. It is one of the modern pinnacles of CGI animals, and if you have any interest in VFX you’re going to want to watch.
Kubo and the Two Strings- Laika / Focus Features
Director: Travis Knight
DP: Frank Passingham
Box Office Revenue: $69.9mm
This film, Travis Knight’s directorial debut, is a stunning and touching animated film created at Lakia using 3D Stop Motion Animation. Described as a ‘hybrid’ style animation, it includes multiple disciplines such as traditional stop motion, 3D Printing, and CG VFX. It resulted in some of the finest art direction I’ve seen in an animated film this year. The color palettes and the blend of animation techniques allow it to stand out amongst it’s peers. Set in ancient Japan, it tells the story of a boy named Kubo and his journey to find a magical suit of armor as gods and monsters pursue him. In a departure from the usual tone of animated films (and most Hollywood releases), the story left me with a introspective feeling of sadness. The story, art direction, music, and cast all come together perfectly to set a distinct mood and tell a beautiful story that touches on loss, sacrifice, and forgiveness.
Zootopia – Walt Disney / Walt Disney Animation Studios
Director: Byron Howard & Rich Moore
DP: Nathan Warner, Brian Leach, Thomas Baker
Box Office Revenue: $1.024b
Zootopia is a traditionally 3D Animated film, and a monster of revenue generation for Disney in 2016. The plot revolves around a tired, yet current theme of anti-prejudice. But the way the plot and humor packages up that theme is what makes the film a fun ride and not as preachy as one may think. It has a ton for kids to enjoy and, if you’re an adult that still has any grasp on their inner child, plenty to keep the parents entertained. I was actually laughing out loud in my living room all alone during a hilarious sequence involving a DMV run by sloths. Overall the movie is extremely likeable and I think if you haven’t seen it, you are missing out on an example of more ‘classic’ animation done extremely well.