anime film directors

(Welcome to Let’s Get Animated!, a column that spotlights the best of film animation. In this edition: the best modern anime film directors to keep an eye on.)

Ask any animation buff and they can list off a handful of great Western animation directors, and one Japanese one. Despite anime’s place on the global stage — dominating the pop culture stratosphere since the ‘90s and going on to win prestige thanks to the efforts of Studio Ghibli — most people still think of Hayao Miyazaki as the lone renowned anime filmmaker. But simply taking a shallow dive into the anime industry proves that is not the case.

That’s right, I’m back to talking about anime. While last time I gave you a beginner’s guide to the best gateway anime, this month I’ll be covering some of the most promising and accomplished anime film directors working today. Most of these filmmakers have had to ward off breathless press questions about whether they consider themselves “the Next Miyazaki” or had their films endlessly compared to Studio Ghibli’s catalogue. But these filmmakers have more than proved that they can stand on their own.

Let it be known that this list will exclusively cover directors still working today, and who work mostly in film. (So, no Isao Takahata, or Satoshi Kon, who is a master due for his own column sometime in the future.)

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10 Gateway Anime Movies For Studio Ghibli Fans

gateway anime movies

(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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Hoai-Tran Bui’s Top 10 Movies of 2017

ht top 10 movies of 2017

2017 was a rough year. As British comedian David Mitchell recently put it, the year was “personally adequate and internationally disastrous.” But there was one saving grace for me this year: movies.

And I had quite a catalogue to choose from. 2017 offered one of the richest and most diverse offerings of films we’ve seen in recent years, with blockbusters daring to dream beyond their big-budget formulas and major films going in wildly audacious directions. Some films excited, horrified, and profoundly affected me. But the movies that made my top 10 most sometimes did all three.

Before we dive in, my honorable mentions go to The Breadwinner, Columbus, Good Time, Coco, Logan, It Comes At Night, The Big Sick, The Beguiled, Baby Driver, and Thelma. Now, onto the list.

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Why Were So Many Major Animated Movies So Bad in 2017?

2017 animated movies

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 CocoCars 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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Your Name Kimi No Na Wa

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, political, and opinionated about anything and everything. In this edition: can a Hollywood remake accurately capture the essence of one of Japan’s biggest recent hits?)

The anime craze is continuing, and not even the highest grossing movie in Japan in more than a decade is immune to a Hollywood adaptation.

Your Name – a melancholic coming-of-age film that swept the Japanese box office in 2016, beating out Hollywood tentpoles like Rogue One and Captain America: Civil War – is being adapted into a live-action film by J.J. Abrams and Oscar-nominated Arrival screenwriter Eric Heisserer. While these names would be an impressive combination for any other film, there is the inevitable consternation that yet another beloved Japanese anime will be lost in translation.

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/Film’s 28 Favorite Movies of 2017 So Far

war for the planet of the apes ceasar and his apes

Over the past few weeks, the /Film team has assembled personal lists of their favorite movies of the year so far, a look at where we stand halfway through the year. But those lists were also ballots, votes for one final article – a complete list of the entire site’s favorite movies of 2017 so far.

Of those six ballots (and 60 possible slots) contributed by Peter Sciretta, Jacob Hall, Ethan Anderton, Jack Giroux, Hoai-Tran Bui, and Ben Pearson, 28 films were named. And that brings us to the grand finale: the 28 best movies /Film has seen in the first half of this year.

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Hoai-Tran Bui’s Top 10 Movies of 2017 So Far

top 10 movies of 2017

(With 2017 halfway over, the /Film staff will be spending this week compiling lists of the best movies they’ve seen this year. In order to be eligible for the list, a film they’ve seen simply has to have a 2017 release date, even if they saw it at a festival or early screening. Here are Hoai-Tran Bui’s top 10 movies of 2017 so far.)

When tasked with compiling my favorite movies of the year so far, I’ll admit that I had to wrack my brains a bit for ones that stood out from the crowd. Outside of Logan and Get Out, had there really been any standouts? But even though summer movie season had gotten off to a tepid start and studio offerings have been lackluster, I think it would be rash to say that 2017 has been a weak year for great movies. In fact, I think it’s quite the opposite: 2017 so far has offered an exciting array of captivating films in both the indie and genre circuit that gives me hope in an increasingly homogeneous movie industry. So much hope that my struggle to initially fill this list ended up being a struggle to narrow it down. (Sorry, The Beguiled and War for the Planet of the Apes, you almost made the cut.)

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Moana - Kakamora

A record 27 features have been submitted for consideration in the animated feature film category for the 89th Academy Awards. The number of Oscar-qualifying films has risen greatly over the past few years. For instance, last year there were just 16 films submitted. But with so many films submitted to the Academy, I wonder how many of these movies have you seen? Hit the jump to see the list of 2016 Oscar-Qualifying Animated Feature Films.

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