The animation genre is no longer dominated by few studios and, as you know, isn’t just for kids. Also, 2018 has witnessed more diverse range of animation subjects and styles than ever before. Whether you are an art-house afficionado or looking for popcorn entertainment, there are a variety of animated offerings. Here are the 10 best animated movies 2018 had to offer worth your time:
10. Early Man
Early Man isn’t exactly top-notch work from Nick Park, the creator of Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit shorts. Nevertheless, this stop-motion claymation delivers wonderful quirky comedy that it’s hard not to be charmed. Nick Park mixes Stone Age with the Bronze Age to tell a wacky story about an adventure-seeking caveman.
9. Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero
Richard Lanni’s winsome and heartwarming tale presents the animated true story of an unlikely war hero. Set during World War I, the narrative follows a lovable mutt growing attached to an American soldier. Subsequently, it becomes the regiment’s mascot and a loyal friend. Even though the tale is set amidst a war, it is poignant and appropriate for fun family viewing.
8. Ralph Breaks the Internet
Phil Johnston and Rich Moore’s sequel to Wreck-It Ralph moves from the world of arcade games to the web. Here, Ralph and his best friend Vanellope’s quest takes them to the vast world of the internet. The sequel although doesn’t have anything new to say about our online behavior touches upon themes universal to all ages. The astounding visuals and the charming protagonists are why you should watch this.
7. Violence Voyager
Ujicha’s gruesome fantasy uses the concept of ‘geki-mation’. He uses variety of hand-drawn cutouts (full of colored pencil drawings) to act like marionettes. Although this animation technique is considered primitive, it nonetheless withholds a unique visual appeal. Violence Voyager tells the unbelievably gory tale of high-schoolers, confronting a greater evil, in a secluded amusement-park. Of course, this Lovecraftian, pulpy tale is only for 18+ kids with a penchant for distinctly bizarre works.
6. On the Happiness Road
Sung Hsin-yin’s fascinating animated debut chronicles Taiwan’s recent past through the trials and tribulations of a young woman. Though enveloped in a layer of nostalgic warmth, the tale is emotionally resounding since it is eventually about the relentless search for happiness and peace in our daily lives. Besides, the simple yet effective 2D hand-drawn animation adds to the movie’s heartfelt quality.
Watch Mamoru Hosoda’s enjoyable tale of sibling rivalry specifically for its impressive visual design. Like Miyazaki and Takahata’s works, the narrative intricately details every-day life of middle-class Japanese. Adding to the meticulous detailing is the jaunt into the lyrical fantasy realm. Moreover, Hosoda’s message on familial bond and heritage perfectly compliment his imagery.
4. Incredibles 2
The Incredibles 2 was a thoroughly enjoyable sequel that could have been as profound as the original but the cliched writing, undercooked villains, and uneven pacing ceased it from becoming another Pixar classic. It was, undoubtedly, one of the best sequels to come out with unrestrained imagination, excellent animation, and a strong female lead but couldn’t encapsulate the same complexity in writing as its predecessor — which even after a release of a decade and half — is considered as the crown jewel of animated films.
3. Night Is Short, Walk On Girl
Masaaki Yuasa’s madcap anime tells the tale of a boy-girl relationship as they engage in a surreal night of partying. Yuasa’s imagery is magnificently fluid and dream-like, although casual animation fans may not connect with it. What particularly fascinated me is the anime’s unrestrained energy which churns out one of the most fanciful romantic narratives in recent times.
2. Isle of Dogs
One of the most visually sumptuous animated dog films in recent years, Isle of Dogs is a sheer joy to look at. Through painstakingly carved puppets that took over three months to create, and stop motion animation, the film tells the story of Atari Kobayashi, a young boy looking for his dog. It is set in a vaguely futuristic Japan, where all the dogs have been banished to an island after being infected with an epidemic.
Wes Anderson was hugely influenced by the films of Hayao Miyazaki, as well as the stop motion animations from Rankin/Bass Productions. To create an authentic representation of Japanese culture and architecture, he looked towards the architecture of Japanese buildings by Frank Llyod Wright. His signature style of staged, off-beat backgrounds also came in handy to design a futuristic, vaguely dystopian vision of Japan. Set designs from Japanese cinema, such as Yasujiro Ozu’s Late Spring or Tokyo Story were also a prominent influence. While the story is heartwarming and wholesome, the visuals alone are reason enough to watch. You won’t be disappointed.
1. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was a great coming-of-age story and the best Spider-Man origin story till date. It had a big heart and was tremendously entertaining from start to finish. The extraordinary animation brought the comics of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko to life. Not only did it open numerous possibilities for Sony but also reinstated web-slinger’s lost charm and valour.
Yet to watch: Tito and the Birds, The Wolf House, Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms, and Penguin Highway.
There it is! These are the best animated movies 2018 had to offer. Which of these were your favourites? Did we miss something? Let’s talk in the comments below.
Additional writing by Mayank Nailwal
An ardent cinephile, who truly believes in the transformative power and shared-dream experience of cinema. He blogs at ‘Passion for Movies.’