So far I think 2016 has been another stellar year for animation. There have been some amazing indie animated films like April and the Extraordinary World and Phantom Boy and stellar mainstream fare like Zootopia and Kubo and the Two Strings. Then there are really lovely films like Finding Dory Only Yesterday and Kung fu Panda 3.
There have been some bumps in the year but let’s not focus on them. What I wanted to do for you is give a calendar of the animated films for the rest of the year. It’s easy to be looking for the big name films but the smaller gems can be some of the best of the year so keep an eye out for them. I tried to be as thorough as possible but if I have missed anything let me know!
Sept 9- The Wild Life– it looks poorly rendered and weak but I’m trying to be optimistic. I hope they will do something entertaining with the minimal budget. The 3D on the trailer is terrible so I don’t recommend seeing it in 3D.
Sept 23- Storks- The trailers for this film have been all over the place. I have no idea what kind of movie it is and am not expecting much. I hope it will be a pleasant surprise. They are advertising as ‘from the creators of the Lego Movie’ but the writer is different and that has me concerned.
Sept 30- Long Way North- Friends overseas have been talking up this Danish animated film. Director Remi Chaye worked on Secret of the Kells and I like idea of Sophie’s adventure in the arctic. The animation looks stunning and refreshing!
Oct- Miss Hokusai- Based on a manga this film looks stunning. It is about an artist that has to sell her paintings under her father’s name. That dynamic between her and her father and the art looks very compelling
Oct 19- My Life as a Zucchini- Already Switzerland’s submission for best foreign film. Done great on the festival circuit. It looks adorable about a boy in a foster home who has to learn to get along with other children and deal with loss of his mother.
Oct 26- Ethel and Ernest- This is a hand drawn animated film based on a graphic novel about a family in London. I love Brenda Blethyn and Jim Broadbent as the lead vocals and it should be great to see them voice a couple that grows from 1920-1970s. The hand drawn animation looks lovely so I’m looking forward to it.
Nov 4- Trolls- The teaser for this film got it on the wrong track but I actually liked the full trailer. It looks bright and colorful with likable characters. It could totally suck but I’m hopeful. It still seems like a strange project for Dreamworks to attempt. The music makes me the most nervous about it but I hope it is a fun little movie
Dec 21- Sing- The plot looks really tired but I didn’t hate the trailer. I like how diverse the contestants are- different ages, lifestyles, situations. Particularly Rosie, as a frazzled homemaker intrigues me. I hope they do interesting things with those characters and it isn’t just cliches
Revengeance- Independent animator Bill Plympton gives us his 8th feature film about a female bounty hunter named Lana who is at war with a man named Deathface. It doesn’t look like it has the heart of his Cheatin’ but I might see it. His Hitler’s Folly experiment was a disaster but I’m willing to keep an open mind for an artist like Plympton. This may be only released to his kickstarter backers this year and then 2017 to mass public. Not sure on a release date.
Girl Without Hands- I couldn’t find when GKIDS is releasing this but it is based on the Grimm Brothers tale of a man who makes a deal with the devil and it costs his daughter great pain. It debuted at Cannes and reviews said it is “minimalist but artistically complex” and “each shimmering frame is composed of multiple layers of diverse drawing and painting techniques and washes of color combined with 2D computer animation.” That’s enough to get my interest!
Can we just take a second and give GKIDS a round of applause. They are responsible for distributing 4 of these releases and have already had 3 tremendous offerings this year. As excited I am for a film like Moana, I am equally excited for these amazing independent animated films. What a great, rich time to be an animation fan!
So I hope you will put these films on your radar and give a few of the smaller offerings a shot. Let your local theater know you want to see them. That’s what I do. I’ve actually developed a relationship with my local independent theater and when I see a trailer for a film that looks interesting I let them know. If they don’t come by you look for them on VOD and DVD. It’s worth it!
Also try and keep an open mind about films like Storks, Trolls and The Wild Life. Sure we can point out their flaws, but I find very few films are truly rant worthy and when they are they have deserved it because I was rooting for them.
What say you? Are you excited for these films? What smaller films intrigue you the most?