Animated films have been around for a long time. People tend to associate animated films with Disney/Pixar, but there’s a bunch of animated films that don’t fall into this category, that are just as good. When The Lego Movie released in 2014, it reminded us that not all great animated films are Disney. Since then, a whole slate of Lego Movie spinoffs have been released, but the official sequel, The Lego Movie 2, releases this weekend. Here are 5 unique, animated films to get you ready for what’s sure to be a wholly original experience!
My Life as a Zucchini (2016)
Synopsis: After losing his mother, a young boy is sent to a foster home with other orphans his age where he begins to learn the meaning of trust and true love. (IMDb)
Starring: Gaspard Schlatter, Sixtine Murat, and Paulin Jaccoud
Writer: Céline Sciamma
Director: Claude Barras
Rating: PG-13 (United States)
Running Time: 70mins
Here’s a great, serious animated film. Although we often associate the animation medium with children’s films, My Life as a Zucchini shows that there’s no bounds to the subject matter of animated film. This is one of the many films on this list that would actually be enjoyed more by adults than kids. It tackles difficult themes, and is perfect for its 70 minute running time. It never feels dragged out, and all the scenarios feel just right. It’s truly one of the best animated films of the 21st century so far.
The Painting (2011)
Synopsis: Three characters of different social classes escape their unfinished painting in search of the Painter, hoping he will complete it. (IMDb)
Starring: Jean Barney, Chloé Berthier, and JB Blanc
Writers: Nicky Baker, Anik Leray and Jean-François Laguionie
Director: Jean-François Laguionie
Running Time: 76mins
Here’s a film that has something in it for everyone. The Painting serves as a clever social commentary, while relying on a simple and entertaining premise. It’ll keep kids engaged, while parents can sit back and enjoy the experience. The animation is beautiful, and the colors are vibrant throughout the entire film. Not only is it technically brilliant, the narrative and characters are also a lot of fun to go along with. While it is rare to describe a film as perfect, The Painting is truly perfect.
It’s Such a Beautiful Day (2012)
Synopsis: Bill struggles to put together his shattered psyche, in this new feature film version of Don Hertzfeldt’s animated short film trilogy. (IMDb)
Director: Don Hertzfeldt
Running Time: 62mins
Here’s a film that’s completely and utterly bizarre. Don Hertzfeldt’s It Such a Beautiful Day is beloved among film fans, and understandably so. Hertzfeldt’s experimentation with animation pushes the boundaries of what we expect from the animation medium. The story jumps around continuously, much like the visuals. This is one that should be reserved exclusively for adults, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s fun, ridiculous, experimental and completely unique. Hertzfeldt’s film is one of the most interesting and challenging films of the 2010’s.
Rocks in My Pockets (2014)
Synopsis: Signe Baumane and five women in her family battle with depression and madness. (IMDb)
Director: Signe Baumane
Running Time: 88mins
This is another tough watch, but definitely an essential viewing. Signe Baumane’s semi-autobiographical account of mental illness in her family is a grim, yet engaging look into depression. Baumane has a lot to say here, and an animated film feels like the perfect way to tell this story. It’s unique, weird at times, and incredibly sad. But, it’s also an incredibly rewarding experience. Narrated by Baumane herself, it’s one of the most personal films in recent memory.
The Boy and the World (2013)
Synopsis: A little boy goes on an adventurous quest in search of his father.(IMDb)
Starring: Vinicius Garcia, Marco Aurélio Campos, Lu Horta
Writer: Alê Abreu
Director: Alê Abreu
Running Time: 80mins
The Boy and the World shows why simplicity is sometimes best. The premise and characters are very simplistic, and there is minimal dialogue throughout the film. The part that really draws the viewer in are the visuals. It is, perhaps, the most well-animated film ever made, and the visuals never feel out of place in the context of the story. The film gets us to sympathize with the protagonist, although we know very little about him. The quest is more important than the final outcome, and The Boy and the World pull the audience with every new development in the boy’s quest.
The Lego Movie 2 opens in theatres on Friday, February 8th in Canada and the US!