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Here’s to a school of dagger-propelled, orange barracuda siccing any listmeister who jumped the gun and failed to consider A Town Called Panic for his or her top ten films of 2009. Undeniably the most entertaining and energetic movie of that now-caput year, I found myself funstruck from film’s start to its fireworks-laden finish; ATCP is also 2009′s best animated film, somehow scurrying and climbing past other visionary, grand entries from the oh-nine like Wes Anderson’s fireside-classic Fantastic Mr. Fox, Pixar’s latest crown jewel Up, and Disney’s strong, under-appreciated The Princess and the Frog. This superlative—and I realize how questionable it may seem to those unimpressed by the accompanying image—is not fueled by contrarianism or ostentatious indie preferences; this Fantastic Fest Audience Award winner is simply that effing good. Seek it out.

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A Town Called Panic was one of the more well-received films at Fantastic Fest last month, where it also picked an Audience Award. The unorthodox, stop-motion style of this Belgian animated film needs to be seen to be fully understood, as it taps a mesmerizing, madcap absurdity from the disposability of cheap, plastic toys (think a bag of multi-colored waxy dinosaurs). A limited release is now set in the U.S. for late this year and early next, which is rad given that countless glowing reviews accentuate the theatrical experience.

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