*Apologies for fans of these posts for the lack of consistency recently – work, babies, Christmas – it’s all happening at once these days, but we should be resuming our regular programming shortly.
My Nominations: The Castle Of Cagliostro. Galaxy Express 999.
1979 saw an unusually high number of animated features being released around the world, perhaps the most notable being the first directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The Castle Of Cagliostro is an entertaining, fast moving entry in the long-running series featuring the charming acrobatic thief Lupin. While it doesn’t have many of the trademarks we would come to learn of from Miyazaki, it is still energetic and drawn with detail, with a story easy enough to follow for any age or country of audience. Japan pumped out a number of animated movies this year, the most successful being Galaxy Express 999, an oddly slow sci-fi adaptation where humans have achieved a degree of immortality by transporting their minds into mechs. Although many films were released this year, the best of these were TV movies featuring the likes of The Flintstones and Bugs Bunny and are therefore exempt from my voting – most of the other films don’t meet the standard of quality of the two nominations.
My Winner: The Castle Of Cagliostro
My Nominations: The Lord Of The Rings. The Mystery Of Mamo. Watership Down.
As we near the end of the 70s, the world of Animated movies was still in a lull – Disney was struggling to find a new identity (and would continue to do so for another ten years) while the heralded Studio Ghibli was a few years from being created. Japan was still cranking out hits, but the likes of Toei and Nippon Animation were making films more dedicated to their domestic market. Ralph Bakshi was known till this point for his indie, adult oriented animation work but in 1978 he tackled more family friendly work with The Lord Of The Rings, an ambitious attempt to tell Tolkein’s story in a single work – eventually deciding to focus on the first two books instead. As you would expect, it isn’t always successful and can be bewildering for those new to the story, but it is frequently impressive visually.
For fans of the Lupin III series and character, The Mystery Of Mamo is a fun and energetic adventure, but isn’t the easiest entry point to the series despite it being first. Finally, Watership Down is a film which was shown in schools, and frequently around the holiday periods when I was young. While it still features regularly at Christmas, I highly doubt it being presented to School kids now, such is the nature of both its content and our world now. Both mystical, realistic, and apocalyptic, it tells the story of a group of rabbits struggling with survival and heading towards an idyllic land glimpsed in a dream. While not as overtly political as Animal Farm, the story nevertheless appeals to the intellect as much as the imagination and portrays an often harsh and violent world of hope, danger, and war.
My Winner: Watership Down
Let us know your winner in the comments!
My Nominations: The Rescuers. Wizards. Race For Your Life Charlie Brown. The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh.
1977 was something of a turning point for animated features – it was one of the first years where multiple, genuinely worthwhile films were released and stood the test of time, and it’s really the start of that happening more or less consistently. The only issue is that a lot of the notable films were either TV specials or a mixture of animation and live action, so I can’t really include those. The only thing missing is a truly strong Japanese effort. Nevertheless, we have Bakshi still experimenting – leaving behind his controversial real world efforts and conjuring a total fantasy in Wizards – a post apocalyptic tale with some great visuals, even if the story is one we’ve seen before. Race For Your Life Charlie Brown is another memorable effort in the Peanuts canon and as endearing as ever. That leaves a surprising double effort from Disney – The Rescuers is the more action packed of the two and a film which was critically and commercially successful but which has fallen by the wayside over the years. The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh is a more gentle and relaxed affair. Normally I would pick this as winner, but as it’s really a compilation of old pieces, reassembled and merged with newer bits, it probably breaks a bunch of rules.
My Winner: The Rescuers
Let us know in the comments which Animated Feature of 1977 gets your vote!
My Nominations: The Twelve Tasks Of Asterix. Once Upon A Girl.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never been a huge fan of Asterix (or Tintin). I don’t think this has anything to do with them being French, they simply never appealed to me. Twelve Tasks is probably the Asterix film I’m most familiar with while Once Upon A Girl is another late 70s animated perv-fest if you’re into that sort of thing (aren’t we all?). Slim pickings this year.
My Winner: The Twelve Tasks Of Asterix
Let us know your winner in the comments!
My Nominations: Coonskin. Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid
Slim picking this year with Japan’s Toei animation crafting a tragic film quite unlike the more famous Disney version. The winner though is the rightly controversial Coonskin by Ralph Baski – a film which never had a shot at widespread critical analysis after it was pulled from release due to multiple protests. It’s a satire not only against White America, but the glorification of violence, criminal lifestyle, gang warfare, and masculinity in the 20th Century.
My Winner: Coonskin
Let us know your winner in the comments!
My Nominations: The Nine Lives Of Fritz The Cat
While there were a few animated films released this year, most were made for TV or simply not very good – meaning we only have a single nominee who therefore becomes our winner. The Nine Lives Of Fritz The Cat is arguably better than the original, though most critics dismissed it as more of the same, or simply lacking the initial shock value or wit of the first one. Either way, both are an acquired taste.
My Winner: The Nine Lives Of Fritz The Cat
My Nominations: Robin Hood. Heavy Traffic. Charlotte’s Web. Fantastic Planet.
This is actually a groundbreaking year for animated movies. Maybe groundbreaking isn’t the correct technical term, but it’s one of the first years to see more than one or two highly significant releases from different studios. Aside from the ones I’ve listed, there are other strong offerings from Asia and Japan, but I feel these are the best. Robin Hood is yet another Disney entry, not one of their most popular or successful, but it does have a cult following and is one I was very familiar with growing up – lots of money moments and one piece of music in particular which will stay with you for days. Heavy Traffic continued Ralph Baski’s foray into adult animation becoming a fairly hefty success and containing his typical flair for raunch and satire. Charlotte’s Web is a film I never really liked, but it was always forced upon us in school.. I never got the whole ‘lets feel sorry for a spider’ business because ALL SPIDERS MUST DIE but it’s probably still the best adaptation we have. Finally, Fantastic Planet is an animation years ahead of its time, proving that the genre can be just as thought-provoking and powerful as any piece of non-animated work.
My Winner: Robin Hood
Let us know in the comments which film you choose as winner!
My Nominations: Fritz The Cat. Marco Polo Junior Versus The Red Dragon. Snoopy, Come Home. Tintin And The Lake Of Sharks.
A decent year for Animated Features, with Australia making their first feature – mostly a flop but Marco Polo Junior Versus The Red Dragon remains a curio. Snoopy, Come Home was an unexpected flop – all the more so as it remains a good movie with all the humour and songs you expect. The only winner though is Fritz The Cat. Sure it’s a little cheap and rough, and it hasn’t aged particularly well, but it’s funny and it’s groundbreaking, reminding people that animation should not automatically mean for children only. Finally, another Tintin movie filled with the usual action and intrigue, but I’ve never been a fan of the series.
My Winner: Fritz The Cat.
Let us know what you think is the Best Animated Movie of 1972 in the comments!
My Nominations: Animal Treasure Island. Daisy Town. Shinbone Alley.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks was released in 1971, but it’s a live action movie with some animation. And it’s crap. So don’t complain if it isn’t here. That’s okay, because most of the nominations here are crap too and don’t really belong on the list. There wasn’t anything else though.
My Winner: Animal Treasure Island
Let us know in the comments what your favourite animated movie of 1971 is!
My Nominations: The Aristocats. 30,000 Miles Under the Sea. The Phantom Toll Booth
In the seventies we were still so ‘early’ in the lifecycle of animated movies that Disney essential owned the market. As the decade progressed, Japan would see increased output of increasing quality and a few more companies would begin to emerge. MGM’s The Phantom Tollbooth has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes but was not a success and MGM’s animation studio closed soon after. I prefer this to the similar (in style) Bedknobs and Broomsticks. 30,000 Miles Under The Sea is another early Toei Animation fantasy with plenty of action, but I think we all know what the winner here will be. The Aristocats is a minor Disney movie though fairly unique with its animal characters and musical approach.
My Winner: The Aristocats.
Let us know in the comments which animated feature of 1970 you would pick as winner!