(Welcome to Let’s Get Animated!, a column that spotlights the best of film animation. In this edition: the best anime movies to watch if you’re a fan of Studio Ghibli movies.)
It felt like a big, gaping hole was left in the animation industry when Studio Ghibli temporarily shuttered its doors in 2014. The game-changing studio’s co-founder and the greatest animation director of this generation, Hayao Miyazaki, had just retired (again). And with that, Disney was back to dominating the animation market, with quality alternatives few and far between.
For years, Studio Ghibli was an animation titan that not only offered a refreshing foil to Hollywood’s frenetic, action-packed animated movies, but was a genre unto itself. Fans of the works of Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, Hiroyuki Morita, Gor? Miyazaki, and Hiromasa Yonebayashi didn’t have to say they liked anime — they liked Ghibli. Which is a shame, because Japan’s anime industry has so much more to offer.
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(Welcome to Pop Culture Imports, a column that compiles the best, wackiest, and weirdest foreign-language movies and TV shows streaming right now.)
We’re a week into April, which means it’s time for your biweekly dose of Pop Culture Imports. And if you’re bitter at the sudden waves of warmth outdoors (not to mention the allergies), make yourself comfortable to watch some sobering and stunning foreign-language movies.
This month we have a controversial but lavish Bollywood epic, two strikingly different World War II-set dramas, a Dutch drama that takes a microscope to radicalization, and a quirky Korean variety show.
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When I sat down to compile a list of the best animated movies of 2017, I realized that the selection was shockingly meager. Outside of Pixar and Disney, animation has never been the pride of Hollywood, often appealing to the lowest common denominator rather than stretching the limits of what animated storytelling can do. That’s a job for the foreign animated flicks or for the arthouse indie films. Mainstream animated films only have to keep kids occupied while their parents run errands.
But there was something exceptionally horrible about 2017’s mainstream animated offerings. Aside from Coco, Cars 3, and The Lego Batman Movie, Hollywood has had a pretty bad year for animated movies. Don’t remember what came out this year? The Emoji Movie, The Boss Baby, and Smurfs: The Lost Village, just to name a few. Now you see what I mean.
Compared to last year, which boasted fantastic widely released films from high-profile studios like Disney’s Moana and Zootopia and smaller studios like Laika’s Kubo and the Two Strings, this year’s wide-release animated movies have little in the way of critical acclaim. How can there be such a difference in quality in one year? Let’s dive into it.
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