Here it is, the culmination of our top 25 animated movies of all-time. Tomorrow: A look back.
1) The Incredibles (7 votes, 412 points)
Chris: The Incredibles is our pick for the best animated movie of all-time, and it’s the second of our two unanimous choices, including two panel members’ choice as their own No. 1.
It’s probably difficult to remember this, but there was a time 11 years ago where we only had 4,000 new superhero movies every year instead of the 900,000 we have now. That’s not to say that the superhero genre was some untapped source of easy material — it was just a different landscape. As such, a crisply animated film that showed more of the human side of supers was a novel idea.
The Incredibles catches a perfect storm of unheralded but strong casting, with Samuel L. Jackson and Craig T. Nelson the only huge standouts as far as big names go. Holly Hunter is great as Helen Parr, and we even have the standard Pixar appearance of John Ratzenberger, albeit at the verrrrrry end. But I think Jason Lee’s Syndrome is the best work of all.
The soundtrack is also top-notch, with Michael Giacchino’s first Pixar offering featuring a ton of brass instruments that perfectly complement the action. I feel like the music from The Incredibles gets slept on when people consider the strongest material in animated films. Sure, it’s instrumental and doesn’t have the memorable hooks of many of the classic Disney soundtracks, but it’s still really good.
Where The Incredibles rises above the rest, however, is its action, its story and its themes. Unsurprisingly, a superhero film gave Pixar plenty of opportunities for some fun fight and chase scenes, like Dash discovering he can run on water or the climatic battle at the end. The story fits like a glove from the start — Bob hates the idea of celebrating rudimentary, run-of-the-mill accomplishments, and resents his domesticated life after being perhaps the most well-known superhero on the planet. Syndrome, on the other hand, gets the standard “wanted to be a sidekick but felt like he was shunned, so he’s evil now” treatment, and tries to level the playing field by making everyone super — or dead. It’s a simple but perfect dichotomy.
And finally, the movie is breathtakingly pretty. Even though all of Pixar’s offerings starting with Toy Story look really good, I feel like The Incredibles is where the company really hit its stride. It holds up against the best animation of today, even though a decade has passed.
The Incredibles is a rollicking adventure that appeals to almost everyone with its humor and action, and considering that every single member of the panel had it on their list, it seems like an appropriate No. 1. There are animated films out there that I could argue are stronger in certain areas, but as a complete package, The Incredibles takes the top spot.
Michaela: What is great about The Incredibles is that more often than not, when I watch this movie I forget that it’s 11 years old. It looks fantastic, even all these years later. The animation style is slick and has a timeless quality to it. The characters are all well-written and interesting people with flaws that can be related to. The story is pretty straight-forward, but what elevates it is how the characters interact and move through it. The humor hasn’t aged badly, as humor sometimes does in kid’s movies. But I think what makes The Incredibles truly great, and worthy of the number one spot on our list, is that it is a movie that can be enjoyed by both children and adults. The action is frenetic and exciting enough to keep the kid’s attention, but the movie’s themes and the characters flaws can be related to by the adults watching the film as well. Not a lot of movies can do that well, and it’s for that reason that The Incredibles is so wonderful and beloved years and years later. Here’s hoping that the sequel fires on all cylinders and builds on what the first film already did so well.
cary: Throughout cinema history, man has made many attempts to capture the essence of humanity on the silver screen. As those of us who have seen any movie ever know, these attempts have often failed. What we usually end up settling for are half-assed travesties, shrill caricatures, and hackneyed stereotypes. The Incredibles succeeds where other have failed. It helps that its story is wrapped up in a superhero costume, but at its heart – its beautiful and thorny heart – is a family. A loving family that is trying. Trying though the stress of dead-end jobs; trying through the madness of sibling rivalries; trying through unbalanced checkbooks to make ends meet. A family that tries and succeeds. Take away all the bells and whistles and superpowers, and with The Incredibles, you’ve still got yourself one hell of a brilliant movie that really shows us all what it means to be human.
PREVIOUS TOP 25s: