With all of the streaming services available nowadays, picking out a film or two to enjoy on a weekend evening is a no-brainer – you can even choose to switch to another movie halfway through if you’re not enjoying your first pick. But will anything ever really live up to the hype of the animated movies you loved as a kid? To the Disney and DreamWorks creations that you’d jam into your VCR and watch over and over? There’s something about those animated films that are just so satisfying.
It seems that the contemporary live-action remakes of beloved animated movies often lack the charm of the originals, largely earning mediocre reviews from critics. Generally speaking, most animated movies are made today with a young audience in mind, which sometimes makes it difficult for adults to enjoy them in the same way.
We’ve rounded up some of the best animated movies for adults to enjoy with that in mind. So, grab your popcorn and add one of these gems to your weekend watch list.
“Loving Vincent” (2017)
This one is for all the art lovers. Of course, Vincent Van Gogh’s works are legendary, but they’ve become even more popularized as of late. Through immersive exhibits in cities like New York, Washington DC and Los Angeles, we’re finding new ways of appreciating his artistic prowess.
In 2017, though, another effort went into showcasing the depths of this expressionist’s pieces. The movie “Loving Vincent” animates many of his most famous paintings, creating a cohesive story exploring Van Gogh’s final days through the eyes of a messenger. Aesthetically, it uses the unique brush strokes Van Gogh was known for, integrating his style into a fluid storytelling medium.
The first film simultaneously Oscar-nominated for best animated feature, international feature film and best documentary feature, “Flee” is a film you’ll want to catch before the awards ceremony on March 27.
Animation isn’t a typical medium for documentary films, but “Flee” makes it work. A docudrama from Denmark, this film follows the true story of a man named Amin as he reveals how he fled Afghanistan for Denmark as a refugee. This subject matter seems ever-relevant and exploring it through animation hammers in its individualist human element.
“Perfect Blue” (1997)
“Perfect Blue” is an animated psychological thriller released in Japan back in 1997. Thrillers are another genre not typically explored in animation, but you may be surprised how effectively “Perfect Blue” delivers its disturbing content. It was initially conceptualized as a live-action feature, but its animation has cemented it as an internationally esteemed piece of cinema.
Based on the book “Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis” by Yoshikazu Takeuchi, this animé is about a musician who leaves her J-Pop group to launch her acting career. However, as she attempts to reconstruct her career, protagonist Mimi Kirigoe is haunted by a stalker and finds herself at the center of a series of murders.
“Kill It and Leave This Town” (2020)
With its stark, threadbare art style, the animation of the Polish feature “Kill It and Leave This Town” fits its plot perfectly. These days, we’re used to seamless computer animation with smooth movement and immersive aesthetics. However, “Kill It and Leave This Town” relies on a more imprecise, sketch-like quality that draws attention to the imperfection and fallibility of humanity.
This film follows a man tormented by loss who escapes within his own memories, wherein all those he lost are still alive. It’s dark, it’s bleak – and it’s different from anything else in contemporary animation.
Adapted from the popular biographical graphic novel of the same name, “Persepolis” uses the same iconic art style as the book by Marjane Satrapi. In black and white, this movie tells the story of a young girl as she experiences and grows up during the Islamic Revolution of the late 1970s to early 1980s.
It’s directed by Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud (aka Winshluss), who also wrote the screenplay. The story takes place in Iran and Vienna, where protagonist Marji is sent by her parents. This account of such an extensive historical event from the eyes of a young girl is character-driven and fascinating.
“It’s Such a Beautiful Day” (2007)
“It’s Such a Beautiful Day” is a story that shines through its minimalism. When we say “minimalism,” we mean it. This movie is about a literal stick figure named Bill, who suffers from surreal hallucinations intermixed with his own philosophical reflections. If this sounds strange, that’s because it is. It’s also bizarrely funny.
Originally three short films released separately, writer/director/producer Don Hertzfeldt ended up editing them together into a singular feature-length picture. Even more impressive, there were no computers involved during its production. The movie was made using actual pencil and paper and shot on 35 mm film using trick photography and “experimental optical effects.” A work that doesn’t depend on the mechanisms of modern animation yet manages to affect the watcher to equal impact must be worth a watch.
“Fantastic Planet” (1973)
Using animation to tell a sci-fi story is a smart move, as the considerable amount of imagination required for a story like this warrants the creativity of an animation team. “Fantastic Planet” is a French and Czechoslovakian science fiction movie that’s an instant classic. Featuring a portrayal of a faraway planet, the film’s style may remind you of Terry Gilliam’s short animations of “Monty Python” fame.
While today, sci-fi movies are usually quite complex or eccentric in their plotlines, “Fantastic Planet” feels very 1970s. With its psychedelic color scheme and message of rebellion in the face of oppression, this film is comfortingly Bohemian. About a future race of humans on a distant planet who rebel against their less human rulers, “Fantastic Planet” is simple in its premise but aimed toward a more adult audience. When it was made, this movie was considered experimental, though it is based on the 1957 French novel by Stefan Wul, “Oms en série.”
Whether you’re just tired of the limitations of live-action films, or you genuinely appreciate the artistry and craft of animation, you can still enjoy animated movies as an adult. Sure, Pixar movies still hold up, and some other animated classics that you enjoyed as a kid really can’t be replaced. But, go ahead and check out these best animated movies for adults to honor your more mature tastes while still enjoying the endless creativity of artists and animators.
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