The Incredibles (winner)
Before someone mentions Howl’s Moving Castle here, I’ll point out that it was nominated for 2005. This was otherwise a pretty dismal year in animated film. I’ve heard nothing good about Home on the Range and only some good about both Steamboy and The Polar Express. The only movie I feel qualified to comment on is The Spongebob SquarePants Movie. Should it have been nominated? As it turns out, yes, because I like it better than one of the actual nominees.
Weeding through the Nominees
3: The only thing Shark Tale has going for it is ambition. This seems like little more than a quick move to cash in on the acclaim surrounding Finding Nemo from the previous year. There’s a nice bit of connection to movies like The Godfather, but nothing in this film works, even with a complete suspension of disbelief. Too much is done to make the fish too human, so that it more or less plays like a film on land, just underwater. The art is garish, too, and most of the characters come across as people (err…fish) I wouldn’t want to know. Yes, Shark Tale is the at best the second-best animated movie that takes place in the ocean from 2004.
2: Shrek 2 is a big enough step up from Shark Tale that it can’t even see the third-place finisher in its rear-view mirror. I enjoyed Shrek 2 quite a bit, but I didn’t like it nearly as much as I did the first film in the series. It builds nicely on the mythos established in the first film and gives us a good continuation of the main characters. It also adds Puss in Boots, which raises the film a few notches, since he’s one of the best characters in the franchise. It’s a solid film and a good sequel, but it’s not even close to the best animated movie of 2004.
1: There is no other choice than The Incredibles, and if you asked them, I think the producers and directors of the other two nominees knew it going in. This is, at least in my opinion, the perfect animated movie. The characters are great, there are real relationships between them, and the danger that they face is real. It’s got great voice work, stellar animation, and even an awesome soundtrack. The Incredibles is as far above Shrek 2 as Shrek 2 is above Shark Tale. No other animated movie has come close to being this right for this award.