When reality becomes quite banal and boring, we tend to focus on things that do not belong within the realm of reality. In the case of films, animated ones cater to that idea perfectly from the get-go as viewers, before anything else, sit to watch the film ready to disassociate from the real world with an idea of fiction associated with it. Hence, it is not an easy task to make these films, and contrary to the popular notion, animated films can talk about a range of complex themes and delve into various spectrums, from family-friendly types to even some of the most disturbing ones. As far as 2022 is concerned, although many genres faced major hiccups, animated films were one that saw a plethora of impressive films where many of them also showcased the lost art of using stop-motion animation, depending less on the computer-generated images. Furthermore, there have been many animated films that are yet to be made accessible, and that is the major reason for making an unranked list at the moment. A ranked one will be there a few months into 2023 when the majority of 2022 films generally become available to watch on demand. So, here is the list of some of the best-animated films of 2022.
Apollo 10 1⁄2: A Space Age Childhood (Dir. Richard Linklater)
This refreshing film marks the collaboration between Netflix and the acclaimed filmmaker Richard Linklater is among the most fun-filled filmmaking voices of recent times and has the ability to perfectly capture the essence of childhood and also love, as seen in previous films such as “Boyhood” (2014) and “The Before Trilogy,” that too in a very chit-chat manner. This is the second time he switches gears into animation with a coming-of-age narrative that revolves around a very fun and personalized fictional tale about the American Moon Landings, set against the backdrop of the suburbs of Houston during 1969. Linklater perfectly blends fantasy with the non-fictional elements, at the same time being quite relatable and perfectly displaying the 60s America. All these visuals are perfectly etched through a very unique use of 2D animation and have a very comic book-like effect that perfectly encapsulates the essence of nostalgia; they are aided by a brilliant voiceover by its acting cast and help to create a space film that is about the interactions and exploration of the journey of boyhood in itself.
Marcel The Shell With Shoes On (Dir. Dean Fleischer Camp)
This A24-backed film, “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,” lies in the realm where animation is blended perfectly with reality, as previously seen in popular films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Here, it is done with a very limited budget and uses stop-motion animation to create the major characters, through whom a marvelously sweet and warm film is carried out. The portrayal of the main character, Marcel, possesses the very unique ability to melt even the most stone-cold heart, and that too without the use of very cliched melodramatic tropes. It is rather a sweet, cute, and innocent tale told through an equally intimate and kind lens, revolving around the themes of family, bonds and unity. Filmmaker Dean Fleischer Camp perfectly hits all the right notes that make “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” both emotional and, at the same time, quite hilarious. Furthermore, the interactions between Marcel and his grandmother, Nanna Connie, voiced by the legendary Isabella Rossellini, are something that stand out.
The Bob’s Burgers Movie (Dir. Loren Bouchard & Bernard Derriman)
Even though this film is based on the popular animated TV show “Bob’s Burgers,” it manages to perfectly make its mark as a standalone film and one that can be enjoyed even without having watched the show beforehand. “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” is the perfect enjoyable ride that manages to swiftly evoke a wide array of emotions from the viewer. It is also among the funniest animated films of 2022, and also has interesting musical numbers. These numbers have a very abrupt approach, and that further elevates the film to great heights and makes it a breeze of a film that is very engaging and enjoyable for both its fans and newcomers.
Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio (Dir. Guillermo Del Toro & Mark Gustafson)
This is one of the best adaptations of the well-known story of “Pinocchio” and consists of one of the best uses of stop-motion animation ever seen in the history of cinema. With the backing of streaming giant Netflix, auteur-filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro, with the help of Mark Gustafson, is perfectly present and envisions a dark fable-like quality with this film. The level of detail and effort that went into the making of this film, with the use of puppetry and stop-motion animation, can be perfectly seen in each and every frame. Due to this magnificent use, the film meticulously showcases a raw and earthy essence. Furthermore, “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” does not sugar-coat some of the relatively dark subject matter and takes a very upright approach in confronting themes of fascism which one may not expect in a traditionally animated film and along with that, the film also raises various questions related to various concepts such as immortality.
Wendell & Wild (Dir. Henry Selick)
This film marks the comeback of the acclaimed animator and filmmaker Henry Selick, who made films such as “The Night Before Christmas” (1993) and “Caroline” (2009) after a hiatus of 13 years. Other than that, this film also features the old-school collaboration of Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key, giving voices to its titular characters. Selick is back with his signature touch of animation, which delves into the gothic and a little bit of horror territory and presents quite an interesting film that showcases a very fresh and unique use of stop-motion animation. Although “Wendell & Wild” is not as great as compared to the director’s previous works, it is very enjoyable and engaging, with some really funny moments. Major credit should go to the brilliantly twisted and originality-filled mind of Selick, which showcases brilliance in terms of world-building and helps the film to be one that, even though at times it seems indulgent, is also quite enticing and exciting to visit.
The House (Dir. Emma de Swaef, Marc James Roels, Niki Lindroth von, and Bahr Paloma Baeza)
The House is another stop-motion animated film on this list, but it is unlike any other film and possesses the ability to surprise with its brilliant and surreal storytelling that delves into a quite macabre territory. This is an anthology of three different narratives with the commonality of setting, that of a house, where all the shorts, along with the respective lives of their characters, revolve around. Furthermore, it deals with quite lofty and grisly themes of madness and temptation and manages to evoke a range of emotions, including disgust, and laughter, from its use of crude humor and confusion through its surreal nature. Although all the segments have very distinct and equally interesting narratives and display a visual language that is quite original, a major credit should be given to Enda Walsh for connecting the dots and creating a perfect blend of madness through his layered writing, as he serves the role of the common writer while there are multiple filmmaking voices at the helm of each short.
Turning Red (Dir. Domee Shi)
“Turning Red” marks the feature debut of filmmaker Domee Shi, who previously directed the Oscar-winning animated short “Bao” (2018). Interestingly in a year filled with great animated films, this is only one that is under the banner of Disney and Pixar and also their first film to be directed entirely by a woman. The plot of the film revolves around a 13-year-old girl who, when excited, turns into a great red panda. This is etched out through a very simplistic and lighthearted approach that has a fair share of humor associated with it. Shi perfectly captures the themes of adolescence through the use of interesting metaphors and imagery that is very fun to watch and also filled with a lot of heart and warmth.
After looking at the above-mentioned films, it can be stated that 2022 was a game-changer in the usage of stop-motion animation. Furthermore, it can also be observed that 2022 marked a major push by some new players in the market from the point-of-view of animated films, by the presence of the independent production house A24 and majorly by the streaming giants, Netflix, who managed to both ropes in acclaimed filmmakers and legendary animators and kind of dethrone well-known dominators such as Disney and Pixar Other than these films, here is a list of special mentions that one can give a watch: “The Sea Beast” (2022), “The Bad Guys” (2022), “My Father’s Dragon” (2022), “Entergalactic” (2022), and “Drifting Home” (2022).