So I tried to make this into a ranked list, from 25-1. But I couldn’t do it. Because my enjoyment factor for this films is too dependent on my mood of the moment, which varies day by day. So I’ll just list them in a somewhat random order (except the last one, I save the best for last).
These are films that aren’t all that mainstream (mostly), which I believe are great pieces of entertainment worth tracking down for those who haven’t seen them.
But first, an honorable mention to a film that I didn’t quite enjoy enough to ever want to own (though it is possible I may appreciate it more upon a rewatch). Ralph Bakshi’s Hey Good Lookin’. A painfully honest film about the relationship between a man and a woman, which is about all I’ll say about it. And an honorable mention to The Iron Giant, another film that I might appreciate more upon a rewatch. One more for Rock & Rule, Perfect Blue, Watership Down, Steamboy, and Cowboy Bebop: The Movie.
The Hobbit (1977)
Despite the budget constrictions preventing the Battle of Five Armies from reaching its full potential, and pulling its punches on how violent the encounter with the spiders in the forest could be, I consider this to be the definitive Hobbit movie, far superior to the Peter Jackson trilogy. It is paced better, and does just as much with a shorter running time. And it has fantastic musical setpieces that you’ll be humming long after the film is done, doing justice to the novel in that regard. That being said, “The Road Goes Ever On And On” was done better in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings (Fellowship of the Ring).
Be warned though, the DVD versions, despite what any currently say about it being uncut and restored, do not contain the original sound effects, which have been removed from the original VHS versions. Track down a copy of those if you can, or find it online somewhere.
Heavy Metal (1981)
A fantasy/sci-fi/horror/action/comedy/noir anthology for the perverted. Plenty of nudity and sex to go around without ever getting bogged down enough by it to become a flat-out porno. But in all seriousness, this film may not be particularly deep or complex, it’s surface level entertainment. And yet, I can’t recall ever seeing an anthology film where I found such entertainment from all of the short stories contained within. And they definitely save the best for last, which also contains some of the best music I’ve ever heard from a film, and I’m not exaggerating in that regard. There’s also a bitchin’ deleted scene called Neverwhere Land that I wish they completed and included in the final cut.
The Land Before Time (1988)
Ok, yeah, this is more mainstream and I’m sure you’ve at least heard of this movie if not actually seen it. But it’s a great movie, with dinosaurs, that I grew up on, and still find entertaining to this day!
Batman: Under the Read Hood (2010)
Arguably the only animated Batman film that can come close to competing with the one below.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Considered the greatest animated Batman movie ever made, and arguably the greatest Batman movie ever made. Not so sure I’d agree with the latter, but it is good enough to make it on this list.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters (2007)
One of those films based on a series that seems so dumb and stupid and juvenile… because it is. But there’s an element of intelligent humor to be had there, and an amount of effort that seems too good for something like this (especially with that poster which represents absolutely nothing about what the film contains, which makes it even more hilarious), that can make one appreciate portions of it as if they’re slowly being let in on an inside joke. I’m not sure if it’s a guilty pleasure, or a legitimate pleasure.
Dead Leaves (2004)
This less than 60 minutes animated film is batshit insane, with an unbelievable amount of high octane energy that hardly lets up throughout its runtime. You will be thankful it’s not even an hour long, because your brain would melt from the intense intake if it was.
Gandahar (1988; aka Light Years)
One of the most unique and imaginative animations ever created next to Fantastic Planet. Try to watch it in its original and uncut format, known as Gandahar (the English version Light Years makes some alterations).
Fantastic Planet (1973; aka Savage Planet)
Basically just like Gandahar, except more revered and famous. It is likely the better film, but I think both are equally fantastic (and made by the same creator).
Time Masters (1982)
The other even more lesser known film from René Laloux, creator of Fantastic Planet and Gandahar. I’ll admit, it’s not as good as the other two, but it still blows away most animated films made in any decade. Plus it had a twist that I honestly didn’t see coming, even though the signs were all there.
Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland (1989)
Studio Ghibli almost got a hold of this film. They even did a screen test animation. I can say I’m glad it went to somebody else, because as much as I enjoy some of Ghibli studio’s stuff, their animations tend to get samey. They have a formula similar to that of Disney, except it’s better. On the other hand, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it would’ve turned out better than it did.
Starchaser: The Legend of Orin (1985)
“In the tradition of Snow White and The Dark Crystal.” Phahahah! I have to admit, at no point in the duration of this film did I ever think of equating it with either of those two films. If nothing else, I’d say it’s a knock-off of Star Wars in some aspects. Anyway, this was originally released in 3D, a format I have never seen this film in.
The Secret of Nimh (1982)
Arguably Don Bluthe’s crowning achievement.
Son of the White Mare (1981)
This is probably the most obscure film on this list. Think of it as a more traditional mythology tale (traditional by Hungarian standards), but with some of the trippiest visuals you’re ever going to see in an animated movie.
The Triplets of Beville (2003)
A film told primarily with visuals, with little to no dialogue. And aside from a topless bit in the beginning of the film, I’d say this is a film that can be enjoyed by the entire family. This film is very metaphor-heavy, and has the greatest slow car chase of all time.
Titan A.E. (2000)
Don Bluthe’s last major film, which bombed at the box office. Not fair. This was a great film. If nothing else, at least he went out with a bang (in more ways than one).
While Bakshi is more famous for other films, this one is currently my favorite of his. Make no mistake, this is very rough around the edges, with some strange animation choices that were likely made to cut corners and make up for a low budget. But regardless, I always have fun with this dystopian little film that seems like it’s anti-technology and pro-ecology, but also makes an ironic point at the end as to how technology can be useful.
The Simpsons: The Movie (2007)
The show may be long past its prime at this point (and honestly should be put to rest), but I consider this film to be the sendoff the series deserves. Even if it doesn’t exactly end anything in any way, shape, or form (unlike that one live action sitcom Dinosaurs).
Fire and Ice (1983)
This has everything I’d expect any standard sword & sorcery film to have.
All Dogs go to Heaven (1988)
Tragedy behind the scenes aside (which can potentially make this a more difficult film to watch, emotionally), this is the other film regarded as one of Don Bluth’s masterpieces. Kinda wish we got the full uncut version though, of both hell and the tommygun.
Don’t let the poster and animation fool you. There’s a decent detective story to this, and cat sex, and some incredibly violent imagery. It’s an adult animation.
Hand drawn anime’s swan song. And it packs one hell of an adrenaline rush for the first and last act, with the middle act just acting as setup. One of the best racing films ever made, that definitely goes over the top at the end, but it’s fitting that it does so.
Golgo 13: The Professional (1983)
I reviewed this. It’s the definitive professional assassin film in my opinion.
Ninja Scroll (1993)
I’m not going to lie. My reasons for enjoying this movie so much is because the action sequences are so well done. Some of the best you’ll find in an anime.
Ghost in the Shell (1995)
Anyone who has read my review knew this was going to be on this list. It’s currently my favorite animated film of all time, and I don’t know if it can be topped.
PS: Films I haven’t seen that I should see:
Mary & Max
The Plague Dogs