Monday, July 20, 2015

Animated Movies with Outstanding Art

*Affiliate links are used in this post. They help us keep the blogging going but they don't harm you at all! Thank you for your continued support.* 

Almost anyone will admit that computer animation has it's pluses. The smooth transition of the characters through their world, the physical interaction of objects on each other, and the near perfect synchronization of the movement of the mouths and words being heard are all examples of steps that have taken animation forward by leaps and bounds. However, anyone who grew up with true hand drawn animation movies will agree that there is a magic to be found in the old standard animation style that is lost in the "in your face" style of computer animation. Below I have listed some of my favorite animated movies from when I was growing up. Having watched these again as an adult I can truly appreciate the mastery of artistry that the creators put into the back drops of these movies.

10- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
With a simplistic story line of the gang trying to get to the land of milk and honey to re-stock Pooh's supply, this movie boasts not only beautiful and detailed back drops from beginning to end, but also includes a level of detail on the character's texture rarely seen in those days. Texture on the characters was often avoided because of it's tendency to shift from frame to frame. Drawing the same picture thousands of times leaves a lot of room for error; however, the animator's of this movie threw caution to the wind by adding great texture to these characters, and placed them against somewhat repetitive but beautiful backgrounds.

9- The Page Master
I know - a solid piece of the movie is real actors... blah blah. I am willing to overlook this due to the back drops and unusual creativity that came in this movie. It came off a little strong, in trying to get kids to read. (A fact that is overlooked by kids who watched it and then went to the library inspired to experience something new.) This great cinematic creation fell short on their human characters, but made up for it in creative, outlandish, even dark backdrop, and neat walking talking books. This movie used it's settings and styles to create a feel that was unique from any thing else in its time.

8- The Great Mouse Detective
This is one of three mouse movies to make this list. Having the whole movie take place from the perspective of mice gave a unique artistic value of looking at things through smaller eyes. It even inspired others to attempt movies from the same size perspective that were less well known, including Thumbelina and Ferngully. This movie reached for the highest rung in the ladder of detail, boasting gallery worthy backdrops that are set in Victorian style England.  The twisted plot follows a young mouse "Olivia" in her search for her father, an inventor, that has been kidnapped by a truly dark and devious antagonist. This is one movie that could easily be watched without sound and enjoyed for the pure aesthetic mastery.

7- Little Nemo
If I had to describe this movie in one word, it would be bizarre. We follow young Nemo into Slumberland where he is trying to save the king. The story line in this movie is sporadic and bounces around a bit. However, there is great animation and imaginative characters throughout this movie that make it a truly visual adventure (including a sleazy bum clown that winds up showing Nemo around while trying for the better portion of the movie to ditch him). Given that this movie takes place in a dream world very little is off limits. Even though the vast majority is very scary and dark, it maintains a somewhat steam punk/dark fantasy feel.

6- The Fox and the Hound
I think most everyone alive through the 90's will remember this heart breaking tale of two great friends destined to be enemies. The interaction between human and animal in this movie was almost unparalleled in any other animal based animated movie of its time. The forest scenes and backdrops of this movie looked as if they belonged in a Thomas Kinkade gallery, and for all I know may have. The outstanding artistry is not only in the backgrounds that covered multiple forest scenes and views from all over three different cottages, but also in the characters that gave the whole movie a realistic feel that touched the heart.

5-American Tail
Another movie that utilizes the unique perspective of the mouse. Brutally attacked by the Soviet cats that followed around the Russian military, (for some reason, wiping out both people and mice) Fievel and his family flee to America to escape the brutal cats. However, the problems are only starting as Fievel gets separated from his family while out at sea. The adventure takes us from the skies, to the sewers of New York and everywhere in between. The spectacular use of the perspective coupled with truly talented artists makes you can feel the settings that they put the characters in. Utilizing incredible color schemes and contrasts, this movie pops like nothing else in its time.

4- All Dogs Go to Heaven
This movie holds a special place in my heart (mostly because I'm a dog lover). In this movie, we meet Charlie and his kind-hearted companion Itchy. the story starts off with the stars of this artistic masterpiece being not so savory. The pair of stray dogs wind up taking advantage of a cute little girl who happens to be able to talk to animals - but that's not what this post is about. The artists of this movie were masters of the imagination. They managed to piece together entire areas by creatively connecting random things. When the characters aren't in the "real world" they are moving through what appear to be giant scrap sculptures. The detail exhibited in these settings adds a texture to the movie all it's own.

Who doesn't know Bambi? There is honestly nothing about this movie that I can say that hasn't been said a million times over. This is one of the most seamless movies I have ever seen. In any animation of this time period, you can tell when something is going to move in the background, because it is a slightly different color. This is one of the only movies that almost completely erased the lines between the characters and the background. As they did with The Fox and the Hound, Disney once again brought in masters of their craft to draw the backgrounds. The animators of this movie had to have worked tirelessly to make the characters every bit as intriguing as the background giving a rare look at a truly animated world.

2-Alice in Wonderland
To anyone who read the book you will understand why this movie had to be animated in it's time. Strange and unusual do not even begin to describe what went on in this story. That being said, the people involved in the making of this movie went above and beyond just telling the story. The artistic mastery that consumes the various odd and creative backgrounds of this movie is staggering. This is the only animated movie I have ever seen where you can almost see the brush lines and pencil markings. I can do nothing but stand in awe of the attention to detail in this wildly bizarre movie, and how beautifully creative the artists got with it.

1- The Secret of Nimh
This movie has made the top of my list, even though I have met so many people who have never even seen it. This is the animated mouse movie that leaves the others eating dust in its artistic mastery. The story is about a mother mouse that has to go see the rats that have set up shop in the farmers rose bush to save her son, Tim. this movie takes us through a visual experience that includes the inside of the farmers house, an old abandoned water wheel, the field, and the inside of the rose bush. The rose bush is its own world of mystery. The genetically modified rats have built a world of their own out of various items they have found around the farm and have even included electricity. The gloomy and textured world that these characters live in express an edge of beauty unparalleled by anything else I have seen.

These movies are my picks for the most beautiful animated movies done in traditional animation. There are several that are great and didn't make the top ten list. They are worthy of an honorable mention - Peter Pan, The Rescuers, The Little Mermaid, and Lady and the Tramp. I will even give an honorable shout out to the interesting and obscure Tom and Jerry movie (the first one) for all of their beauty and attention to detail. To all of the artists who had a hand in any of these movies, I have one message...
"Please come back."


  1. I never saw the Pagemaster. Of course Disney prides themself on their animation. The teams of amazing people they use to create their movies. They are a work of art and kept in a museum. I'd love to see the behind the scenes one day. Wouldn't you?

  2. I love this list!! So cute and so true. Animators are truly artists.

  3. I love this list - all my favourites when I was little (most of them anyway)! Do you know, I recently had to revisit Bambi, as my husband had never watched it growing up!!! What self respecting 30 something year old didn't watch Bambi growing up?

  4. Awe, I love Pagemaster! We used to watch it all the time when I was a kid.

  5. Little nemos is the best! I remember watching it when I was younger and loving it!