The Most Visually Beautiful Animated Films: 26-21

It’s been awhile hasn’t it? Though I am not quite done with my Avatar posts, I wanted to continue with the top 51 most beautiful animated films. The movies will not be listed in chronological order, rather, they will be placed depending on my opinion.

If I have missed any films feel free to tell me. I am not perfect and have certainly not seen every film ever made. As it is, I love finding new movies to evaluate and love so I will not be offended if anyone introduces me to one I have missed. Now then, on with the list!

26. Bambi, 1942

I know a lot of people will ask why I chose this film. As a story, it is nothing particularly special. But I remember as a child watching this movie and marveling at its colors and settings. As an adult, I stopped paying attention to the characters many times and found my eyes sliding behind the action to look at the background paintings.

Unlike previous Disney films like Pinocchio (1940) and Snow White (1937), I feel the animators and background artists paid more attention to the setting. That is not to say I do not find the above mentioned films visually stunning. Pinocchio is especially well crafted, but is not beautiful visually in my opinion. (It is still one of my favorite films. Unfortunately, this is a different type of list.)

What makes Bambi stand out among the earlier Golden Disney films is how it portrays nature. The fire which engulfs the forest is especially eye-catching to me as well as the grey, still shots of winter. This is definitely not one of my favorite films, but I do think it is a visual feast despite its age.


25. Coraline, 2009

Stop motion pictures are not aesthetically pleasing to me. For some reason, the way they move and are designed is mostly crude and unpleasant for me to see. This is especially true for Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), one of the strangest movies I have ever seen. I felt I needed to include at least one stop-motion picture on this list, since it is such a brilliant art form. The one film which popped into my head was Coraline. (Sorry Nightmare Before Christmas (1992). I love you but German Expressionism is not exactly meant to be visually beautiful.)

Why did I choose Coraline? I loved the large variety of colors. Most stop-motion pictures use blander color schemes, usually in various shades of gray, brown and green. That is different in this film. Because of the world Coraline visits, the creators had more vibrant settings to work with and create. These places were meant to please and be eye-catching.

But, at the heart of this movie I think the visuals broke from the usual off-set backgrounds and were more creative than the usual film in its genre. This was more a world of imagination and it showed through its interesting visuals. Of all the stop motion films I have seen, this one is the most creative in setting and execution. (And yes I have seen The Box Trolls (2014) and no, I did not think it was especially pretty. Intricately and brilliantly designed yes, but not beautiful.)


24. L’Illusionniste (The Illusionist), 2010

Made by the same creator of The Triplets of Belleville by Sylvain Chomet this is a rather obscure entry to this list. I saw this a few years ago and got lost in its backgrounds. Unlike Triplets, it was able to capture beautiful scenery, still maintain realistic character designs and was executed lovely.

There really is not that much dialogue in this move. In fact, it plays much like a silent film, letting the character’s actions speak for themselves. Much of our entertainment is bombarded with dialogue and action and is unable to stand on its visuals alone. Since The Illusionist centers on magic it hinges on the assumption that real beauty speaks for itself.

I still remember this movie, though I have only seen it once. The story did not particularly impress me but its execution certainly did. Its colors seemed dulled at times but all in all I found it a refreshing and a charmingly beautiful film.




23. Ernest and Celestine, 2012

I have not seen this move. I know. . . I know. . . I really should see it but I just have not had the time for it. (I have been distracted by other things. . . cough Avatar). Anyway, though I have not seen it I have watched the trailers and scoured through pictures from the movie. What I found was a charming, watercolor setting set very much like a children’s book.

It reminds me of a short I saw as a kid Dr. Desoto (1984) which also has animals dressed like humans living in cities. I think the visuals for this movie appeal to me so much because they have an innocence and charm to them. A lot of animated films copy live-action styles and adapt cruder designs. For this movie I feel like I, and others, are allowed to watch a story unfold wrapped in a magical and childlike setting.

I promise I will watch this movie someday. . . but for now I merely admire the beautiful animation from a distance. I do highly recommend it, even though I have not seen it.



22. もののけ姫  Mononoke-hime (Princess Mononoke), 1997

Miyazaki is one of the only directors I know who created a different world for each of his films. No two are alike and all have their own beauty. Mononoke has some of the most beautiful forested backgrounds from film. The way to descirbe this movie is RICH. It is rich in atmosphere, color, depth and scope. It is impossible to drink in every aspect of it, which makes it ideal for multiple viewings.

I feel that great art speaks to us, specifically art which enhances real life. I have never really liked modern art which abandons the beautiful depth set by the Renaissance masters hundreds of years ago. There is something powerful about masterpieces like The Sistine Chapel. Mononoke is that type of film. It reminds us of beautiful places we have forgotten in our modern world.

Need I say you have to see this movie? I know it does not appeal to everyone, but in my mind it is akin to going to the Louvre and viewing the works of masters. Truly, this movie is a visual feast unmatched by most animated films.



21. レッドライン?, REDLINE (Redline), 2009

Before you ask, no I have not seen this. I was introduced to it by an AMV which I recommend, but acknowledge labels me unnecessarily as a nerd. Wow. . . this movie’s visuals impressed me. It feels like a comic brought to life and enhanced through beautiful colors. Some of the designs are definitely over the top (Like the main character’s ridiculous hair) but those seem superfluous in light of how breathtaking the animation and backgrounds are.

This is yet another film I will never watch because of its rating, but I still can admire it from afar. Redline is most certainly a boy’s film, with the racing, trophy women and over the top action scenes. But despite its crass imagery at times it still seems to shine with wonderfully detailed characters, buildings and scenery. Even the side characters have depth visually. (Usually, they just have average designs meant to move unrealistically in the background. Ugh. . . Hunchback (1996) why did you betray me so?)

I do not know how to recommend this movie. If anything, check out its trailer and some of its scenes just to get an idea how brilliant and beautiful its visuals are. That is what I did and I salute it for its creativity.



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