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11 Lessons From Time Out's Top 100 Animated Movies of All Time

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire April 16, 2014 at 12:47PM

Wes Anderson's favorite anime, H.R. Giger's soft side, and other thing we learned from Time Out's list of animation's greatest.
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"My Neighbor Totoro"
"My Neighbor Totoro"

The massive "Time Out New York" package devoted to "The 100 Best Animated Movies of All Time" is more than a simple list: It's also a quiz, a how-to for budding animators, and an index broken down by such types as "Oscar Winners," "Edgy" and "Traumatic" -- the latter's icon being, naturally, a silhouette of Bambi. To get the results, the magazine polled more than a hundred filmmakers, critics and animation experts. (My own ballot is here.)

But as thoroughly cross-referenced as "The 100 Best Animated Movies" is, there's still some information you can only glean by combing through the individual ballots -- or by reading what we found when we did just that.

Digital animation hasn't overtaken hand-drawn craft, at least for animation buffs.

With even Disney loathe to commit to making any further hand-drawn films, the art form as it originally was is all but dead. But as far as filmmakers, critics and animation experts are concerned, handmade animation still rules. Only four of the Top 20 films were animated on computers, tied with with the far less-common technique of stop-motion. The numbers pick up a bit as you move down the list, but CG still lags way behind.

It's a three-way race between Disney, Pixar and Ghibli

Nine of Pixar's 14 features placed in the top 100, as did 11 of Studio Ghibli's 18. ("Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" predates Ghibli's founding, although there's substantial overlap in personnel.) Neither approaches Disney's 21, but considering that the Mouse House had at least a six-decade head stars, that's a pretty solid showing.

"Toy Story"
"Toy Story"

"Toy Story" is the best "Toy Story" movie

It seemed in recent years that "Toy Story 2" had overtaken the original in terms of overall esteem, but "Toy Story" placed fourth on the overall list, the highest-ranking computer-animated film of all, while the sequel barely squeaked into the top 30.

H.R. Giger has a soft side

Among the unexpected faves of the Swiss artist best known for designing "Alien's" creature are "Chicken Run," "Finding Nemo" and "Watership Down."

"Frozen's" Songwriters Like "Tangled," too.

People who called "Frozen" Disney's best in decades took a little flack from those, like me, who think 2010's "Tangled" is its superior. (When a friend wrote on Twitter that "Frozen" was Disney's best in years, I replied, "Yeah, three.") Turns out Robert Lopez and Kristin Anderson-Lopez, who won an Oscar for "Let It Go," agree: "Tangled" comes in eighth on their list. Interestingly, only four of their 10 -- "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut," "The Lion King," "Tangled" and "The Little Mermaid" -- are musicals.

"Akira"
"Akira"

Wes Anderson loves him some Japanese animation

Four of Anderson's Top 10 -- "Only Yesterday," "Porco Rosso," "Princess Mononoke" and "Spirited Away" -- come from Studio Ghilbli, which with "Akira" and "Neon Genesis: Evangelion" demonstrates a pronounced predilection for the Japanese style. Interestingly, there's no stop-motion on his list, despite his "Fantastic Mr. Fox" making the survey's overall Top 10.

Seth Green prefers the new stuff

Nothing on Green's list stretches back farther than 1988's "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" and "Akira"; three -- "The LEGO Movie," "ParaNorman" and "Wreck-It Ralph" -- were released in the last 18 months.

Nick Park prefers his stop-motion in live-action films.

There are only films with stop-motion animation in the "Wallace and Gromit" creator's top 10, and two of those -- "Jason and the Argonauts" and "King Kong" -- are primarily live-action films.

"The Adventures of Prince Achmed"
"The Adventures of Prince Achmed"

Henry Selick doesn't like stop-motion much at all.

Although he's directed some of the best stop-motion movies in recent years, "Coraline" and "The Nightmare Before Christmas," Henry Selick doesn't put any on his list, unless you include Lotte Reininger's silhouette-animated "The Adventures of Prince Achmed."

Bill Plympton is not afraid of self-promotion, or racism.

The last two movies on Plympton's list, "Idiots and "Angels" and "I Married a Strange Person!" were directed by Plympton himself. He also includes Disney's "Song of the South," whose racial caricatures have kept it out of circulation for decades.

"Only Yesterday"
"Only Yesterday"

Someone needs to release "Only Yesterday" on Blu-ray already.

Although Studio Ghibli's movies are enjoyed by all-ages audiences in Japan, Disney, which handled most of their movies in the U.S. until last year's "From Up on Poppy Hill," has marketed them to children. That leaves domestic dramas like "Only Yesterday" and "Ocean Waves" -- as well as darker fare like "Princess Mononoke" and "The Grave of the Fireflies" -- out in the cold. The latter two have been released by other distributors, but the first two remain in limbo, which, especially in the case of "Only Yesterday," which comes in at No. 61 on Time Out's list, is an egregious omission. Fix it.


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