How to Train Your Dragon
Toy Story 3 (winner)
There are a couple of misses I think right off the bat for 2010’s list of animated features, and for a year that only has three nominees, these seem to be omitted for no good reason. The first is Tangled, widely thought of as one of the great exemplars of Disney’s resurgence. The second is Despicable Me, which features one of the truly great parent/child relationships in animated movies between Gru and the three girls he adopts. Since there were only three nominees and two movies that clearly deserved to be considered, I have to wonder exactly why there were only three nominations. As for other possibilities, I haven’t seen enough of Megamind or any of Arrietty or Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole to know if I think they should be here.
Weeding through the Nominees
3. As much as I love Jacques Tati, The Illusionist is clearly the third-place finisher of these three movies. In fact, it would be my fifth-place finisher with the addition of the two movies I mentioned above. This isn’t to denigrate the movie that The Illusionist is; I enjoyed it. It’s not something I could see watching frequently, though. It would be my last choice for a rewatch. The bottom line is that as charming as this can be in places, I can’t help but think that it would have been better as a live-action film the way it was originally intended.
2. How do you decide between two movies that are virtually perfect? There’s only one way I can decide to do that here—which one would I rather watch again right now. Based on that, I have to put Toy Story 3 in second place. This is a nearly-perfect movie, though. It uses the established world of the Toy Story franchise and even goes back to the first movie to resolve issues that occur in this one. I am genuinely worried that a fourth Toy Story film will tarnish what the first three built. Bottom line, I love this movie, but it’s not the one I’d more likely rewatch.
1. No, the rewatch favorite is How to Train Your Dragon, a movie that does absolutely everything right. It sticks enough to the story that we think is going to happen to be easy to follow for a younger audience, but more than most animated movies, ramps up the stakes and goes places by the end of the movie that are truly surprising. Even the moments that we expect to happen—Hiccup’s rejection by his father, for instance—have a surprising depth and detail that makes them real rather than just plot-necessary moments. I’m not upset that Toy Story 3 won, but I’d be a shade happier if it was How to Train Your Dragon.