10 Movies That Prove 2016 Is A Great Year For Animated Films

5. My Life as a Zucchini

My Life as a Zucchini

This simple, quick (66 minutes) and yet profound tale of a broken childhood might be a surprise winner at the Oscars too, or even break into the Best Foreign Film category, as it is between the 9 finalist selected by the Academy. It’s another stop-motion animation triumph, showing that the antiquated and artisanal technique still has a firm place among genre aficionados.

As it tells the story of an adorable child who’s taken into an orphanage after his mother’s disappearance, My Life as a Zucchini (the boy’s nickname) doesn’t provide easy answers and sugary happy endings. It’s uplifting in its own peculiar way, and committed to being real more than it is cute (though that adjective pops to mind a lot while watching it too). It’s a powerfully bittersweet Swiss offering that highlights how great and diverse animation movies were in 2016.


4. Your Name

Your Name

There’s something tremendously special about Your Name, Makoto Shinkai’s mysterious and heart-tugging fantasy romance that has dominated box office in China and Japan alike. It’s essentially a body-swapping romantic comedy, but Shinkai makes so much more out of it it’s hard to say anything without spoiling the surprises and moving complications of the script. Richly animated, Your Name breaks genre and gender-barriers to become an engaging film for anyone who gives it a chance.

Don’t be so surprised if it becomes the second ever Japanese anime to win the Best Animated Feature Oscar, 15 years after Spirited Away became a worldwide hit literally no one saw coming. What ties Your Name together between all of its creative and fantastic proclivities is the humanity in its characters and what the story says about it – Oscar or no Oscar, Shinkai’s film is one of the most essential moviemaking experiences of 2016.


3. Zootopia

Zootopia (2016)

Disney’s third most successful film this year made more than a billion dollars at the box office, so that’s something. Zootopia’s biggest asset is the way it feels timely as a story, as much as it is adorable in its characters and referential jokes – by telling the story of a society grappling with prejudice even when it seemed to be a thing of the past, Zootopia is one of many 2016 blockbusters to analyze the scheming ways of bigotry in the age of social media activism.

That being said, it’s also a very funny and endearing film, with great performances by a stacked cast and some rich world-building that could and should be explored in sequels, spin-offs and such. Clocking at 108 minutes, Zootopia was the first big sign, back in March, that this would be a great year for animation – that it has survived in the top 3 since then is a testament to its quality.


2. Kubo and the Two Strings

Kubo and the Two Strings

Laika’s latest marvel, Kubo and the Two Strings expands on everything the company’s previous movies had made so well and concentrates on telling a meaningful story with unforgettable characters and valuable lessons. It’s still a children’s fable at its heart, but it features mature themes in a positive light, while presenting a sympathetic lead and a few amusing and engaging supporting players.

The gorgeous stop-motion animation, terrifically shot by cinematographer Frank Passingham, only adds to what is already an enchanting film that’s essentially about the way we tell stories and how they become part of us and define the very essence of humanity. With respectable turns by Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey and Ralph Fiennes in the voice cast, Kubo and the Two Strings don’t leave the spectator’s memory until long after the credits roll.


1. The Red Turtle


Michael Dudok de Wit’s feature-length debut is an 80-minute, completely dialogue-less fable about a young castaway’s various stages of life while living in an island populated only by animals. It’s a magical experience, partly produced by Japan’s Studio Ghibli, famous for its Hayao Miyazaki movies. Their sophistication and stamp of approval is felt, but The Red Turtle is an auteur’s work at its best, marveling at the simplest sights, sounds and developments.

There’s nothing of grandeur or big aspirations here, which is why the fable-like plot works so well – it’s like The Red Turtle is an ancient story told by some nameless bard centuries ago, so imbued in our collective minds that we don’t need any bigger introduction to it. This refreshingly concocted, executed and finalized film is the best animation has to offer – and that’s something when you talk about 2016.

Author Bio: Caio Coletti is a Brazilian-born journalist, a proud poptimist, and has too many opinions to keep them all to himself.