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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Is this the greatest year ever for animated films?

Peter Hartlaub at SFGate’s The Poop — a baby blog, not a movie blog — recently asked raised an intriguing possibility:

[T]his may be the greatest year for animated feature films of all time. One could make make a strong argument for 1937 with the seminal “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” 1940 with “Pinocchio” and “Fantasia” or 1999 with “The Iron Giant,” “Toy Story 2” and “South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut.” But I know there hasn’t been a year filled with so many great animated films.

With the release today of Avatar — which is inarguable more of an animated film than Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, which opens next week — we’ve now seen all the animated movies 2009 has to offer.

What do you think? Is this the greatest year ever for animated films?

I think it may well be. When a Disney musical like The Princess and the Frog feels minor next to the likes of Up, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Coraline, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and 9, yeah, I think this might be the greatest year ever for animated feature films.

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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  • amanohyo

    None of the animated movies released this year are better than any of the three Hartlaub listed from 1999. I believe the American release of Princess Mononoke was also near the end of 1999, so that cements the year as the best ever in my mind.

    But even though I’ve been mildly disappointed by every animated movie released in 2009 except for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (fingers crossed for Avatar), the quantity of above average titles is certainly larger than in any other year I can remember.

  • Brian

    1999 also gave us Fantasia 2000, which was not only a worthy successor to its forbear, but as far as I can remember, the film that led the way for the evolution of IMAX as more than just a gimmicky attraction for museums.

    I can’t comment on any of this year’s films, sadly, so I can’t compare. But ’99 certainly was a banner year.

  • Any year which sees an Alvin and the Chipmunks sequel released within it cannot possibly be a banner year for animation…

  • Orangutan

    Any year which sees an Alvin and the Chipmunks sequel released within it cannot possibly be a banner year for animation…

    But we also had Coraline and Up, surely those two make up for the horror of female chipmunks singing Single Ladies? Even if they don’t, just nod and smile and let me have my illusions?

  • * Smiles *

    * Nods *

    Seriously, I must admit to liking both Up and Coraline. I’m just not convinced that they are all that much better than the best animated films of other years.

    Then again, I still have a soft spot for 2005’s Corpse Bride so please feel free to take my opinion with a grain of salt. After all, I obviously have illusions of my own…

  • RyanT

    So it seems like the next banner year will be 2019?

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