Latest Movie News Headlines

Ink & Pixel: Special Edition - The Top Three Animated Films of 2013

Dec. 20, 2013by: Steve Seigh

Ink & Pixel is a source of pride and joy for me as a writer and as such, Im always striving to take this column further for those who read and enjoy it. If you yourself, or anyone you know, helped to make any of the amazing feature animated films found within this column, I would love to talk to you to further my knowledge. Please contact me at steveseigh@joblo.com so we can discuss it further.

Greetings folks, and welcome to a special End of the Year edition of Ink & Pixel. All throughout the year I investigate animated films from the past, and do my best to present them to you in a fun and informative fashion. Some films are better than others, there's no doubt about that. However, the hard work, talent, and dedication that goes into each and every one of them is something that I believe cannot be ignored, and is something that should-nay, must! -be celebrated on a bi-weekly basis. Heh.

So, today I am here to present to you fine people my Top 3 Favorite Animated Films of 2013! Now, before my Top 3, allow me to explain. I'm purposefully, (and semi-regretfully) only pulling from this year's major theatrical feature-length motion pictures in the crafting of this list. So, what that means is that you won't find the hyper-violent and ridiculously awesome BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, PART 2 or JUSTICE LEAGUE: FLASHPOINT PARADOX anywhere on this list. Also not appearing on this list will be any short-films like Pixar's heart warming THE BLUE UMBRELLA, or that archaic trip down memory lane which appeared before Disney's FROZEN called GET A HORSE. Yeah, I didn't like that one. Not one bit.

So without furtherado, let's get to the reason that you're all here! Here are my Top 3 Favorite Animated Films of 2013!

3. THE CROODS

From Dreamworks Animation - the studio who brought us such films as RISE OF THE GUARDIANS, KUNG FU PANDA, and the increasingly abysmal SHREK series - comes a prehistoric comedy adventure about a nomadic family and their journey toward salvation. The film stars Nicholas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, and Cloris Leachman as a band of neanderthals on what Dreamworks has described as the first family road trip of civilized man. The film starts out innocently enough, giving the impression that it's going to be yet another kid friendly romp that's aiming to get youngsters and their parents out of the house for a few hours but about 20 minutes into the film it becomes much more than that.

Yes, the film features a plethora of sight gags that will have the children in the audience busting a gut with laughter, but just underneath the majestic environments, wildly colorful characters, and harrowing action sequences, is a story of hope and holding onto the dream of a better tomorrow. In my estimation, the film is not only about survival, or about how working together as a team (or in the case of this film, a family unit) is a necessary means to pressing beyond the harshest of circumstances it's also about that special bond shared only between an overprotective father and his first born daughter.

Throughout the film, Grug (Cage) abides by the mantra Anything new is bad. Unfortunately for Grug, an imaginative caveman (unimaginatively) named Guy joins the family on their trip across the decaying plains of Pangaea,and Grug's eldest daughter, Eep (Stone), - along with the rest of the Croods soon discover that their fearless leader has indeed kept them living a life of paranoia and spiritual darkness. I dig the transformation of Grug's character in this film, as well as the gradual strengthening of the bond between a young woman and her father.

Writers Chris Sanders and Kirk De Micco obviously wanted this film not only to entertain its audience, but to also teach them a valuable lesson about love and letting go. It may not be a film that will change your life. However, it's a hell of a lot better than you would expect and will even manage to make you well up with tears of relief and joy at least once or twice.

2. MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

Ah Pixar, the premiere animation house of modern times,responsible forsuch classics as the TOY STORY trilogy, WALL-E, and arguably the best superhero movie ever made THE INCREDIBLES. They're back, and this year's offering is a prequel to MONSTERS INC.;my personal favorite of the Disney Pixar catalog. Under the direction of Dan Scanlon, MONSTERS UNIVERSITY takes us back in time to when featured characters, Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) and James. P. Sullivan (John Goodman) have their inaugural encounter during their first semester at a monsters-related college.

The hook this time around is that before Mike and Sully became the best of friends, their obvious differences-both in regard to social class and scholastic capabilities-kept them on opposite ends of the fence. But when their academic futures are threatened as the result of their narrow-minded foolishness,it becomes imperative that the two monsters put aside their differences, and learn to work together if they are to have any future in the Scaring industry.

It's a little THE REVENGE OF THE NERDS, a sprinkle of ANIMAL HOUSE, and comes equipped with a powerful and important message for its younger viewers. In my estimation, that message is that being different is okay. In fact, it's better than okay. Being different is valuable in ways that we can only hope to understand, and contributes greatly to the world becoming a most wondrous and mysterious place in which to spend your days. There's also a heavy emphasis on the importance of teamwork;something that children can stand to be reminded of every now and again if you ask me.

That being said, I'm not going to lie to you, I flat out did not care for MONSTERS UNIVERISTY upon my first viewing. That's right, I said it. At first, I felt that removing the bondof affectionthat ties Mike and Sully together caused the film to lose much of its appeal, especially for a franchise founded on the conceptsof friendship and togetherness. I'm happy to report that this was a hurdle I would soon learn to overcome aftermultiple viewings of the film. Gradually, I began to understand just how important it was that Mike and Sully begin their relationship as rivals. Without the rift between them, the emotional beats, lessons learned, and message of tolerance might never have beenas fullyachieved.

In addition to these themes -MONSTERS UNIVERSITY also gives us an endearing cast of new monsters to fall in love with.I'm speaking,of course,about the brothers of the Oozma Kappa fraternity. Squishy (Peter Sohn), Don (Joel Murray), Terri (Sean Hayes), Terry (Dave Foley), and Art (Charlie Day) are (in my opinion) the glue that holds this film together. Forget the notion that Art has some of the best lines ever in the history of the franchise, and focus more on the concept of the members of Oozma Kappa representing the often overlooked minority classmates of the Monsters University Campus. The way I see it, everyone has got a little bit of Oozma Kappa in them. We all want to be accepted for who we are, and to be treated as equals by our peers. It's an intrinsic human desire, but also a right that must be earned and maintained through ones actions. Ultimately, you deserve as much respect as you give others, so be sure to treat others the way you wish to be treated.

For me, it was a real joy watching as the brothers of the Oozma Kappa gained the respect of the student body during the course of the film. It makes for a solid underdog story, one that is seamlessly interwoven into the larger narrative of Mike and Sully's trials of friendship. All of these story and character elements set MONSTERS UNIVERISTY apart from other animated films this year, and will more than likely leave you with a freakishly large smile on your face by the end.

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY might not have been the sequel I was hoping for, but the sense of triumph for Mike, Sully and all of their brothers of the Oozma Kappa housethat I feltby the end of the film is an experience I did not receive from any other animated film this year. The film's layered messaging make it an animated film that demands your introspection. Technologically gorgeous, often times hilarious, and packed with a scary amount of heart, MONSTERS UNIVERSITY is a film that I think everyone should make the time to see.

1. FROZEN

For those who have yet to see the film, FROZEN is a touching,character driven story which features the adventuresome Princess Anna (Kristen Bell), and her magically gifted sister, Princess Elsa (Idina Menzel). Loosely based upon Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, the storydescribes Elsa's coronation day -the day she is to assumethe throne- and thepowerful magic within the would-be queenthatis unleashed. Paralyzed by a fear of the unknown, the subjects of Elsa's kingdom recoil in horror at the sight of her newly revealed gifts. Elsa then retreats into the mountains - devastatedandin search of solitude and escape. Unable to accept that her sister will henceforth be known as a witch, Anna teams up with the local Ice Distributor, Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), a whip-smart reindeer named Sven, and a magical snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad), to reason withQueen Elsa, andhopefully rescue her kingdom from becoming nothing more than a block of ice.

Straight up, I am not a fan of the more musical Disney animated films. I don't really have the time to explain it here, but I find something inherently creepy about the atmosphere that a musical creates. FROZEN, however,forced me toset asidethat irrationality, and instead marvel at the majesty that this film was able to produce. Hell, even Olaf's sight gags and foolhardy misconceptions about the Summer season were well timed and never overdone. He's a token kid character who doesn't even show up until we're about half way through the film. Thank you, Disney!

You want some more reasons to love Disney's FROZEN? How about the idea that upon inspecting Elsa's journey, you'll discover that-at it's core-the film is a cleverly orchestrated coming-of-age story? Think about it, Everything that Elsa experiences in the film could be considered a metaphor for a young woman battling her way through her budding sexuality.Case in point: The king's unwillingness to accept his daughter's maturing magical abilities, Elsa's powers increasing as she nears her 18thbirthday,andthat powerful scene in which Elsa's magical capabilities reach their breaking point and explode in a shower of ice and liberation. It's all there. Don't believe me? Think I'm grasping at straws? Watch the movie again and tell me I'm wrong.

It's rather difficult to explain without spoiling anything for you, but pay close attention to how Anna's curse is broken at the end of this film. This is perhaps the single best reason to think of FROZEN as the Best Animated Film of 2013.Inmy humble opinion,the writing of this scene-and the forward thinking that it represents-serves as a milestone in Disney filmmaking. It defies a staple that has been a part of the Disney princess formula for generations, and I for one am overjoyed to see it go. I know I'm being vague, but if I tell you what it is, it will ruin the surprise. You're just going to have to watch Disney's FROZEN if you want to find out.

Well, there you have it:my Top 3 Favorite Animated Films of 2013! I thank you all,not just for indulging me this holiday season, but for all of your support throughout the entire year here at Ink & Pixel. 2014 looks to be an odd year for animation, what with films like RIO 2, LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY'S RETURN, THE BOXTROLLS, THE NUT JOB, HOME, and no Pixar films to speak of hitting the theaters. I can only hope that there are surprises still to come or this might be a very thin year for animated cinema except for THE BOXTROLLS, that is going to be awesome! Happy holidays and stay animated!

Extra Tidbit: Which of the animated films released in the year 2013 were your favorites? Let us know in the Strike Back section below!
Source: joblo.com

MORE FUN FROM AROUND THE WEB

Strikeback
Not registered? Sign-up!
Or

6:22PM on 12/20/2013

Really?

The Croods? what did you see in that movie? a group of people inside a cave almost 80% of the running time, boring characters, slapstick humor in the vein of ICE AGE, nothing new just another ripoff from a lot of other better movies. Despicable me 2 & Epic are funnier, and wasnt very interesting movies anyway. I didnt see Frozen or Cloudly 2, so in my opinion Monsters was the best.
The Croods? what did you see in that movie? a group of people inside a cave almost 80% of the running time, boring characters, slapstick humor in the vein of ICE AGE, nothing new just another ripoff from a lot of other better movies. Despicable me 2 & Epic are funnier, and wasnt very interesting movies anyway. I didnt see Frozen or Cloudly 2, so in my opinion Monsters was the best.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
+1
4:57PM on 12/20/2013
Decent list, though I think my favorite animated film this year is Despicable Me 2. It was the most fun of all the films and all the characters are wonderful, from El Macho, who probably one of the most humorous villains on screen this year, to the always lovable Minions. It didn't have the same kind of depth as the first film, but it was very enjoyable.

As for Frozen, while I really liked it, especially Elsa's characters, I felt the film was severly lacking. The story never really felt
Decent list, though I think my favorite animated film this year is Despicable Me 2. It was the most fun of all the films and all the characters are wonderful, from El Macho, who probably one of the most humorous villains on screen this year, to the always lovable Minions. It didn't have the same kind of depth as the first film, but it was very enjoyable.

As for Frozen, while I really liked it, especially Elsa's characters, I felt the film was severly lacking. The story never really felt like it found it's footing as we are shuffled through so many short plot threads, than I never really felt connected to it. One moment, we're watching a story about two sisters being torn apart, the next we're on a journey across a winterland, and we also find a few villains who are scarcely used. The things I did appreciate were the defiance of Disney's typical animated trappings, such as turning the typical princess on her head and defying the story of true love. But the film is a mess of plot threads. I also only appreciated a select few of the songs. When they're good, they're good, but when they're not, they're almost cringe worthy. I feel like, as far as music, this film doesn't stand up with the classics. Most of Disney's musical animations are thoroughly pleasant as far as musical numbers go. I cannot say the same about this. Overall, Frozen is great, but it just feels too inconsistent for my tastes.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
10:26AM on 12/20/2013

Studio Ghibli was way ahead this year!

Idk, this year we got TWO new films from Studio Ghibli. I know Kaguya-hime hasn't come out yet outside Japan but The Wind Rises has been getting more exposure in the West and it blows all of these films out of the water. It's shocking to me that every year the US almost completely ignores greatly superior work coming out of Japan. Pixar is easily the best studio in the West but even their film this year was pretty safe.

I have a lot of love and respect for these articles you put out
Idk, this year we got TWO new films from Studio Ghibli. I know Kaguya-hime hasn't come out yet outside Japan but The Wind Rises has been getting more exposure in the West and it blows all of these films out of the water. It's shocking to me that every year the US almost completely ignores greatly superior work coming out of Japan. Pixar is easily the best studio in the West but even their film this year was pretty safe.

I have a lot of love and respect for these articles you put out because I think there is a real shortage of love and appreciation for animation these days. However, definitely do yourself a favor and see Ghibli's 2013 releases when you can and you'll surely rethink this list.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
12:45PM on 12/20/2013
I deeply regret not having been able to partake in Studio Ghibli's offerings this year. Every film I write about here is something I've purchased with my own money, and The Wind Rises and From Up On Poppy Hill have not yet made it to my collection. I'm sure that you'll be seeing them in the future here on the column, though. I have no doubt that they were incredible films and I'm looking forward to checking them out as soon as I'm able. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the list!
I deeply regret not having been able to partake in Studio Ghibli's offerings this year. Every film I write about here is something I've purchased with my own money, and The Wind Rises and From Up On Poppy Hill have not yet made it to my collection. I'm sure that you'll be seeing them in the future here on the column, though. I have no doubt that they were incredible films and I'm looking forward to checking them out as soon as I'm able. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the list!
4:50PM on 12/20/2013
Everything that I've heard about The Wind Rises says it's one of the best animated features ever made, and I'd feel inclined to believe it. The trailer is simply amazing, quite possibly better in that short time span than anything i saw at feature length this year.
Everything that I've heard about The Wind Rises says it's one of the best animated features ever made, and I'd feel inclined to believe it. The trailer is simply amazing, quite possibly better in that short time span than anything i saw at feature length this year.
12:36AM on 12/21/2013
I saw Takahata's newest film "Kaguya-Hime no Monogatari" a few weekends ago in Tokyo and it's absolutely wonderful as well. If you have seen any of his other films like "Grave of the Fireflies" or more relevantly to this film, "My Neighbor the Yamadas" you would definitely love his approach to the material.
The filmmakers at Ghibli are absolute titans in the industry and I wish that the freedom that comes with animation being more widespread in Japanese culture would eventually develop in
I saw Takahata's newest film "Kaguya-Hime no Monogatari" a few weekends ago in Tokyo and it's absolutely wonderful as well. If you have seen any of his other films like "Grave of the Fireflies" or more relevantly to this film, "My Neighbor the Yamadas" you would definitely love his approach to the material.
The filmmakers at Ghibli are absolute titans in the industry and I wish that the freedom that comes with animation being more widespread in Japanese culture would eventually develop in the West because it just gives so much more power to storytellers who don't ONLY have to have children as their main demographic. "The Wind Rises" and "Kaguya-hime" are straight DRAMAS and are crafted with the utmost maturity without making a single compromise for what is typically considered inappropriate for children in the West.
I will keep hoping (surely in vain) that "The Wind Rises" will get attention this year for awards season, as it would do the animation industry in the US, as well as its audience, a great service to realize that there is so much more to be done with the medium.
8:59AM on 12/20/2013

Minor Spoilers!

'The Croods' was better than I was expecting, but still not quite great for me. The second half's story focus sucks IMO. We've seen the overprotective parents (in this case just one) before, and nothing new was brought to liven it up at all. Had the movie actually ended in it's most logical point, as oppose to forcing an awkward happy ending (all animals want to be petted and ridden like a horse? Hun?) I would have been okay with it, as there would have been more a point.

Super glad to see
'The Croods' was better than I was expecting, but still not quite great for me. The second half's story focus sucks IMO. We've seen the overprotective parents (in this case just one) before, and nothing new was brought to liven it up at all. Had the movie actually ended in it's most logical point, as oppose to forcing an awkward happy ending (all animals want to be petted and ridden like a horse? Hun?) I would have been okay with it, as there would have been more a point.

Super glad to see love for 'Monsters University'! That film is hilarious! Trying to do a full on sequel and bring Boo back would have been terrible. While it's not as heartwarming as the first, it's funnier with it's nonstop gags and it succesfully does the nerds vs. jocks in a cool new way.

I don't get everyone's utter love of 'Frozen'. It looked pretty, and had the best songs in any film this year (save for the annoying as hell troll number). And oooh, yes, it's a metaphor for coming of age, way to catch a trope older than anyone else alive on the planet. Must have dug deep for that one! How the spell is broken is interesting, but the movie wants it both ways. It has all the trappings of the Disney Princess movie and then tries to break the mold at the last moment. If it were breaking the mold throughout, that's fine, but the only time it does is the superior third act. 'Brave' did a far better act of breaking the typical Disney Princess mold and (for a Pixar movie) got taken to task for it. Why? How does 'Frozen' barely subvert things and get tons of love, while 'Brave' is changing from the get go and is met with a meh? It makes no sense.

Plus, 'Frozen' is way, way too short. Elsa has been away for what? An hour top's (movie time, not real world running length time) and she has complete mastery of her powers. How about a quick montage set to the incredible 'Let It Go'? Song starts off slow, she's sitting on a fallen tree lonely, a little scared. Next day, she's doing small things with her powers (similar to what she did when she was younger), and on the last bit, explode out and make that castle (this part would be more or less the same). As is, Elsa is a hard character to fully grasp onto, because she's the least fully realized character in the movie. The movie toys with the idea that she'll become a full on villain, she does not. It hints at this or that for her, but nothing comes of it. It feels like the movie got hastily rewritten halfway through and Elsa got completely shafted by it. Of course it's a coming of age metaphor! That's obvious and doesn't make it much deeper. The various twists in the third act, do work, but the movie doesn't overall. 'Brave' is there better break the Disney Princess mold, and 'Tangled' is the vastly superior Disney adventure flick. So, yeah, I don't get everyone throwing themselves at this movie.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
12:47PM on 12/20/2013
Wow! Thanks so much for all of your input on the films featured on this list. I appreciate you taking the time to flesh out your thoughts and share them here.
Wow! Thanks so much for all of your input on the films featured on this list. I appreciate you taking the time to flesh out your thoughts and share them here.
7:32AM on 12/20/2013
Frozen was excellent. I didn't mind Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 as well but I don't think there was anything this year as good as ParaNorman, Rise of the Guardians and Wreck-It Ralph. I haven't seen The Wind Rises, but many are calling it the best animated film of the year.
Frozen was excellent. I didn't mind Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 as well but I don't think there was anything this year as good as ParaNorman, Rise of the Guardians and Wreck-It Ralph. I haven't seen The Wind Rises, but many are calling it the best animated film of the year.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
10:30AM on 12/20/2013
The Wind Rises is, without a doubt, the best accomplishment in animation for the year. I hope it gets more and more exposure in time for awards season because it deserves all of it's praise. It's success would be a nice reminder that the animation industry doesn't have to be dominated by fluff aimed only at children.
The Wind Rises is, without a doubt, the best accomplishment in animation for the year. I hope it gets more and more exposure in time for awards season because it deserves all of it's praise. It's success would be a nice reminder that the animation industry doesn't have to be dominated by fluff aimed only at children.
4:52AM on 12/20/2013
I agree with 1 and 3, but I thought Despicable 2 was the better sequel.
I agree with 1 and 3, but I thought Despicable 2 was the better sequel.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
12:42PM on 12/20/2013
Thanks so much for reading! Despicable Me 2 would have been an honorable mention on this list but several things about it didn't sit right with me. I absolutely loved the courtship between Gru and Lucy, it was the shining aspect of that film. That said, I felt like the flow of the film, and ultimately what really worked for it, was constantly being interrupted by what felt like a 3-4 minutes short film featuring the Minions. Not that I don't find them funny, but it really broke up the flow of
Thanks so much for reading! Despicable Me 2 would have been an honorable mention on this list but several things about it didn't sit right with me. I absolutely loved the courtship between Gru and Lucy, it was the shining aspect of that film. That said, I felt like the flow of the film, and ultimately what really worked for it, was constantly being interrupted by what felt like a 3-4 minutes short film featuring the Minions. Not that I don't find them funny, but it really broke up the flow of what I was enjoying much more about the film (i.e. watching Gru fall in love).

Additionally, the kids were such an integral part of the first film but not so much in this one. Margo's lovesick obsession with Antonio served only as a mirror for Gru's growing affections for Lucy, Edith was almost nonexistent, and Agnes, although still adorable, had a far weaker presence in this sequel.

If I could have given an award for Animated Character of the Year it would have most certainly gone to Kristen Wigg's character, Lucy. Holy shit was she funny, lovable, and dangerous. She made this movie for me. Despicable Me was definitely in the running for the 3rd spot, but there was something missing from it for me personally that kept it from getting there. Thanks again for reading and I hope you enjoyed the list!
3:51AM on 12/20/2013
Great choice, but for me only The Croods is the best
Great choice, but for me only The Croods is the best
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
12:32PM on 12/20/2013
Thanks for reading, and yes, The Croods was rather awesome!
Thanks for reading, and yes, The Croods was rather awesome!
View All Comments

Latest Movie News Headlines


Top
Loading...
JoBlo's T-Shirt Shoppe | support our site... Wear Our Gear!