Animation had a stellar year in 2012 and the method to the artistic madness took many forms: From stop-motion, computer generated and hand-drawn, artists had a field day with the releases of the last 12 months. The genre also pushed the boundaries of storylines with the format showing that it is for audiences of all ages with its complex emotional landscapes and powerful, well-drawn-out characters.
So, who is number one?
10. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett-Smith and David Schwimmer returned to their parts as escaped zoo animals struggling to find their way home. For the third installment in the series, the gang gets out of Africa and heads to Europe in search of those pesky penguins that they believe, hold the key to their triumphant return to the Central Park Zoo.
The film was even funnier and zany -- if that's possible -- than the previous two incarnations and has us looking forward to a fourth. And the fact that Rock did his Afro Circus dance in this Madagascar 3 clip only further enhanced our love of the flick.
9. Ice Age: Continental Drift
It's hard to believe that the Ice Age gang have made four films, but with Continental Drift those prehistoric characters keep finding ways to entertain us. The cast, Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary, all are finding things changing. The world is starting to split apart (thus the title) and during one emotional scene, families are violently separated by a seismic shift. Our Ice Age: Continental Drift review states that the film series is more for kids than adults, unlike many on this list, and that is exactly where filmmakers direct their storylines and humor.
8. The Secret World of Arrietty
Japanese anime finds its way to the Top 10 Animated Movies list for the first time. Disney took the Asian film and dubbed American actors over the action, including the iconic Carol Burnett. As shown off in The Secret World of Arrietty trailer, the animation is of the most beautiful we've seen all year.
7. The Pirates! Band of Misfits
The U.K. animation studio behind Wallace and Gromit do it again with a quite English-based humor fest that takes on the ripe for the spoofing world of pirates. Not above spoofing other movies as well, check out the purely U.K. humor that is shown in this The Pirates! Band of Misfits Titanic trailer. Hugh Grant voicing the inept pirate at the center of the film has us wanting more from this sassy seaman.
6. Rise of the Guardians
DreamWorks animation scores their second film on our countdown with Rise of the Guardians. The studio wisely centered their first teaser for audiences on their lead character, shown off in the Rise of the Guardians Jack Frost trailer. Chris Pine's role is the audience's view into the world where Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Sandman all work together to ensure the fantasy world of children remains unaltered. Spectacularly drawn and wildly original, DreamWorks hopes that the film will be part of a series.
5. Hotel Transylvania
What an original idea! Selena Gomez voices Dracula's daughter and as her character is turning 118, she seeks to have her father (a stellar Adam Sandler, yeah, we know!) fulfill his promise of letting her go venture into the world. The only problem is the world hates monsters. That is why Dracula built his titular establishment as a place where monsters can get away and forget the world who seeks their destruction. As evidenced by these hysterical Hotel Transylvania quotes, it's as fun for adults as it is children.
Tim Burton's latest film is a full-length feature based on one of his first. Frankenweenie tells the story of a boy and his dog and what lengths the child will go to to bring his beloved canine back to life when he unexpectedly dies. Burton's cast of characters are as pitch perfect as ever and the director has scored his best work in years. Check out our Frankenweenie exclusive wallpapers for more inside the film.
3. Wreck-It Ralph
Disney animation had us with the very first Wreck-It Ralph trailer. We were enthralled by the idea of staying with the video game world, long after the arcade closed at the end of the day. Ralph is the bad guy in a video game called Fix-It Felix and after 30 years, he's a little tired of being bad. What's a guy to do? Why not jump out of his game and try his hand at being a hero in others? Impeccable visuals, a scene-stealing turn by Sarah Silverman and it all added up to one of Disney's finest works in years.
Pixar headed to Scotland and came back with the story of a Scottish princess who cares more about riding her horse Angus and shooting her bow and arrow than thinking about marriage. Unfortunately for her, at Merida's age, it is time to think about nuptuals and the carrying on of the royal legacy. Brave surprises by becoming not exactly the princess story you'd expect and the message here is pure Disney: Love your family, warts and all.
The creative team behind Coraline returns to stop motion and further pushes the boundaries. A story of the ages, for all ages, follows a young boy (Norman) who can see and hear the supernatural as they live (and die) around us. As the ParaNorman trailer teased, this is an artistic world with humans and monsters created from a quite different palette. It gets points for originality, artistry and a story that compels right up to the final credits.
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