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Animated Movies of the Decade

Movies, Year-End | By A.J. for The Top 13 on December 16, 2009

In the animated movie industry, there's Pixar, and there's everyone else. That status was cemented this decade as the company produced six of the outstanding films on this list of The Top 13 Animated Movies of the Decade. No decade in the history of animated films has been so vastly different than those that came before it. Now, nearly all animated films are being produced with computer technology, though Disney has made an attempt to bring back the golden days of hand drawn animation with its current release, The Princess and the Frog, although it remains unclear whether that movie will be a box office success. Though only one of their films released this decade missed the list (sorry, Cars), Pixar is not the only production company consistently changing the animated landscape. Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki and company at Studio Ghibli were also granted a couple spots on The Top 13.

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WALL-E

1

WALL-E

2008

Among all of Pixar's masterpieces, WALL-E surfaced last year as the crown jewel. Perhaps the most innovative film in animation since Toy Story, Pixar's ninth work featured almost no dialogue for most of the film. Though some worried it would bore audiences no longer accustomed to silent pictures, this film proved to be anything but boring. With jaw-dropping visuals aided by cinematographer Roger Deakins, who helped Pixar experiment with lens focus, WALL-E's journey from an abandoned Earth and into the depths of space is probably the most gorgeous work of animation in the history of the genre.

Up

2

Up

2009

Audiences rarely grow attached to characters as quickly as they did watching this film. Right away, we meet two adorable little kids, see them share their dreams with each other, get married, fail to achieve those dreams, but still end up with smiles on their old and wrinkled faces. And that's just the first ten minutes of this film. The rest is straight-up hilarious, compensating you for making you cry so early in the movie.

Finding Nemo

3

Finding Nemo

2003

Something that sets Pixar apart from other animation studios is the research they conduct. To recreate the mesmerizing world of the deep ocean, they hired marine professionals to oversee the process and studied their own 25-gallon tank, among other things. The winner of Pixar's first Oscar, Finding Nemo features the memorable voice-acting performance of Ellen DeGeneres as Dory, and the heartwarming story of a father's love for his only son.

Spirited Away

4

Spirited Away

2001

Hayao Miyazaki, founder of Studio Ghibli, is the pride and joy of animé, Japan's unique style of animation. One of the most recent in a long and acclaimed career, Spirited Away is a film of incredible beauty, wit, and pure imagination. A lazy girl named Chihiro and her parents stumble upon a parallel world similar to ancient Japan, but with a sorceress with a giant baby, tiny creatures made of soot that fuel the whole town, and magic that turns her greedy parents into pigs.

Monsters, Inc.

5

Monsters, Inc.

2001

Despite being about the scary monsters in our closets, Monsters, Inc. is really about the power of laughter. Billy Crystal and John Goodman lead a stellar cast of voices, yet the funniest character is probably a cute little toddler named Boo. Though it failed to win the first Oscar in the new Best Animated Film category, it won the hearts of millions of viewers and cemented Pixar as an unstoppable force in the film industry. Rumors of a sequel have surfaced, though nothing has been confirmed.

The Triplets of Belleville

6

The Triplets of Belleville

2003

Like WALL-E, this is a film with very little dialogue; in fact, it has even less. Indeed, there are only a few lines of dialogue in the beginning and at the very end of the film. The rest is all communicated with incredibly emotional eye and body gestures, music, and vivid dream sequences. While there are some animated shorts out there with a similar style, there is no other feature that truly contends with this French masterpiece. For more by director Sylvain Chomet, try the "Tour Eiffel" short included in the film Paris, je t’aime.

Persepolis

7

Persepolis

2007

Based on the autobiographical comic book of the same name, Persepolis was the cartoonist Marjane Strapi's impressive directorial debut (co-directed with Vincent Paronnaud). The film, drawn in a style similar to that of the source material, was expected to win an Oscar, but lost to Ratatouille, which clocks in a few spots down on the list. In French, it tells Marjane's very personal account of her childhood in revolutionary Iran and her life as a young woman in Europe.

Ponyo

8

Ponyo

2009

Hayao Miyazaki always mixes the adorable with the serious, but Ponyo is mostly just adorable, which is a primary reason why The Top 13 loves it. Like many of his previous works, it features environmental dangers, witty old women, and a charming love story between an unlikely couple. As with most of Miyazaki's films, Disney put together an all-star cast to voice it, this time including the likes of Matt Damon, Tina Fey, and Liam Neeson.

Ratatouille

9

Ratatouille

2007

Though it is the least successful Pixar film domestically, Ratatouille is the third most successful worldwide, likely due to its setting in Paris, France. As a cartoon that made cooking more interesting than any reality TV show ever could, this is The Top 13's most underrated of all the Pixar films.

Coraline

10

Coraline

2009

Many admirers of the 1993 puppetry classic The Nightmare Before Christmas have made the mistake of believing that Tim Burton directed the film. On the contrary, it was Burton's original idea, but the directorial debut of Henry Selick, who later gave us James and the Giant Peach and, most recently, Coraline. His most recent film is based on a children's book of the same name by Neil Gaiman, and was one of the few times The Top 13 was glad to have spent the extra three bucks for the newly re-popularized 3D experience.

The Incredibles

11

The Incredibles

2004

After critical (though not box office) success with The Iron Giant in 1999, director Brad Bird became the first outsider to be brought into Pixar to write and direct a film for the animation powerhouse. The result was a witty superhero adventure with outstanding vocal performances from Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, and the director, himself, as Edna Mode, a fast-talking costume designer modeled after the real-life designing legend Edith Head.

Shrek

12

Shrek

2001

Though it was likely Pixar that influenced the addition of the Best Animated Feature category to the Oscars in 2001, it was Shrek that stole the thunder from Monsters, Inc. that year. The first film by the new Dreamworks Animation studio (excluding the parent company's Antz, which was controversially released a month earlier than Pixar's A Bug's Life), was a smash hit, and if not for its fixation on fart jokes and the band Smash Mouth, it probably would be higher on this list. Look out for the third and fourth sequels and a Puss-in-Boots spinoff in the next few years.

The Emperor’s New Groove

13

The Emperor’s New Groove

2000

No matter what age the audience member, The Emperor's New Groove was funny. Stuck in between the folktale driven two-dimensional films of the 20th century and the comedic computer-generated films of the past decade, this film acted as a bridge between the two. It might have been Disney's attempt to make a funny flick outside of Pixar's studio, but unfortunately it couldn't save 2D animation, which Disney gave up in 2004.

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Comments Leave a comment

oshoney 

yay for Wall-E at #1, and Up at #2. but Spirited Away should've been next. only one spot away though not a big deal. soo glad Emperor's New Groove made the list lolol it's hilarious.

8:21 AM   Dec 16, 2009

Travelin_Jack 

Where is Fantastic Mr. Fox?

9:32 AM   Dec 16, 2009

dudezer47 

Waking Life and Waltz With Bashir merit spots on the list if you're putting Persepolis on there.

1:41 PM   Dec 16, 2009

zircona1 

Good call on The Triplets of Belleville.

2:35 PM   Dec 16, 2009

bobjunior 

wall-e is certainly number 1, but persepolis is cheated here. that movie is brilliant, and no its not because the character shares my name or gene pool.

3:41 PM   Dec 16, 2009

ajay ★★

Your name's Satrapi? If so, that's an awesome name. I luckily got to see Marjane give a lecture at my school. She was absolutely lovely.

4:12 PM   Dec 16, 2009

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