(Welcome to Let’s Get Animated!, a column that spotlights the best of film animation. In this edition: the most beautiful animated movies.)
Over the weekend, one of the most imaginative and visually striking animated movies ever made hit theaters. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is being hailed as a groundbreaking achievement, and a testament to the creative heights that animation can reach. But it’s not the first animated movie to push the boundaries of the medium.
Animation so often gets dismissed a “children’s genre” that it’s often overlooked how damn beautiful these movies can get. Cinema is first and foremost a visual medium, and no other medium can test the limits of the imagination and realize the potential of filmmaking like animation. So in honor of the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, here are the 15 most beautiful animated films ever.
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The weekend before last, a seemingly under-the-radar film called I Can Only Imagine wound up being a surprise box office hit. It was the first in a string of faith-based movies set to roll out in the weeks leading up to Easter. Paul, Apostle of Christ, a biblical drama starring Jim Caviezel, opened last Friday, and a second sequel to the 2014 hit God’s Not Dead sees release this week.
Caviezel, of course, played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, and that movie is a prime example of how religious films are often underestimated when it comes to commercial success. Made on modest budgets, these movies have built-in support from an underserved niche of filmgoers who find their beliefs at odds with the pool of available viewing content. Local churches embrace the films in grass-roots campaigns, and it doesn’t hurt if they have ties to a bestselling Christian music single or self-help book. This is how I Can Only Imagine was able to win the weekend over Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, a movie that deliberately downplayed the Christian elements of its source material.
By now, there are enough titles out there that religious films have gotten to be a genre in and of themselves. Yet they almost always seem to be under a quality curse, much like video game movies. Those that aren’t outright bad tend to be mediocre. Why are so many faith-based movies subpar? And what movies actually get this right?
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