Alternative animated films you need see

Photo Courtesy of Studio Ghibli

Photo Courtesy of Studio Ghibli

Paola Rivera, Staff Writer

We’ve all grown up on some form of animated film, most likely, something produced by Disney or Pixar. These films are sometimes brilliant, at at other, predictable. Why do we love them so exclusively? Why not? It isn’t like the media offers up ample information  on alternative animation studios or films. Yet,  there are animated movies that are adored by critics and fans alike, that never got the spotlight they deserved. And while I can’t cover all indie, foreign or lesser known animated films that have been overlooked, I can at least encourage you to expand your perception of what animated storytelling can be, and it isn’t just for children. There’s a plethora of wonderful animation that older audiences can enjoy which offers up more complex ideas and original artistry than a Disney film would ever dream of. So, here is just a sample of the diversely unique films now considered classics by many.

  1.  My Neighbor Totoro, 1988

From Japan we have a classic Studio Ghibli film. I first watched this movie at my aunt’s home, and was a bit apprehensive. As a nine year old, I hesitated at the thought of watching a non-Disney film. But I was I was open to it. And I’m glad I was. My Neighbor Totoro centers around sisters Satsuke and Mei moving into a new country side home to be closer to their sick mother who is in the hospital, as playful spirits from the forest interact with them. It’s a beautifully animated film, with a pleasant color scheme, smooth animation and heartwarming characterizations. The story is unique, yet incredibly simple. This film is directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and Studio Ghibli. It won several awards, and was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Genre Video Release.

     2. Mary and Max, 2009

One of the more seriously toned films on the list is Mary and Max. This is a stop-motion animated comedy- drama that deals with social and psychological issues real people face day to day. From the struggles of keeping friendships alive, to sensitive subjects of mental health and suicide, this film deals with loss and acceptance, as well as the way we can find the hope to carry on in each other. We follow Mary Daisy Dinkle, a young girl who’s bullied in school, who becomes pen pals with an older Jewish man across the world(Australia to New Jersey). With humor scattered throughout the touching film’s more serious subject matter, its an emotional ride until it’s final moments. The film is directed by Adam Elliot and won Best Animated Feature Film at the Asian Pacific Screen Awards in 2009.

    3. It’s Such A Beautiful Day, 2012

Perhaps the darkest or most disturbing film on the list, It’s Such A Beautiful Day follows our stick figure protagonist, Ben, who suffers from memory issues and keeping up with the present in his current time. As he vacillates on where he thinks he is at any given time, he is also forced to confront what matters most in life and recognize the moment he is actually experiencing for better or worst. Humor is used very well in this film to lighten the serious issues Ben faces. It’s dark and delves into impossibly sad situations, and will make you wonder how such minimal characteriztions could make you feel so much. The film is directed by Don Hertzfeldt and was runner up for The Los Angles Film Critic Association’s Best Animated Feature Film.

4. Song of the Sea, 2014

Song of the Sea is a adorably 2D animated film about a boy finding his way and his mute sister finding her voice. At least, at first glance. The story is based in Celtic mythology, and delves into that magic and exciting story telling. The inventive visual interpretation of these ancient Irish myths make the source material fascinating while it’s very human story grounds us in a sense of how our every day concerns are somehow connected to something more important, universal and magical . Our two main characters are Ben and Saoirse, two Irish siblings. They encounter Celtic goddesses and many more mythical creatures. It’s an unusual and heartfelt movie that will please many. The film is directed by Tom Moore, and is an Academy Award winner.

 5. The Red Turtle, 2016

This silent film from France is gorgeously animated to tell a story without words. The story is told visually, asking for some extra patience from an audience used to constant, catchy musical numbers. Our protagonist is a cast away who repeatedly attempts to get off the island by building rafts, but an underwater creature thwarts every try. Deceptively simple enough for the first half, the story unfold in ways that you honestly wouldn’t expect. Its something you can think about and have your own interpretation of. What starts out as a straight forward tale of survival, turns into a sad, yet inspiring and beautiful piece of film. The film was directed by Michael Dudok de Wit. The film was nominated at the 89th Academy Awards.