Boxing Day here in the UK was as bright as any I can remember, a time for throwing leaves into the air and rolling around on them as if in a sunny autumn. Back to work. Choosing the top ten films covered in the Animation Blog for 2008 has been a thankless task, no less so seeing as it is self-induced. The result has surprised me. The chosen films are all ones I have revisited, all ones I wish I had written about in a different manner. To reduce some 360+ movies to 20 or so took me a whole evening. Cutting down to 10 has been tougher. Ranking those 10 tougher still. Yesterday's The Snowman is not in the running because I did not review it. Lucky for everyone else.
Sand Animation by César Diaz Melendez was a great endorsement for method and artist, Lisa Paclet's Shoe Army demonstated how, with a keen eye, everyday objects might become animations of beauty; I revisited Ian MacKinnon's Adjustment and emerged even more impressed than my first viewing, Dave Jones' Sleep Elusive is a clever, surprising piece of Flash animation, Casa De Máquinas by Maria Leite and Daniel Herthel an object lesson in set design and puppetry, Katarina Paulsson's Fish Band a sparkling jewel, Favelados an accomplished affair with a heart from Laurent Rossi and Victoria Davies, Procrastination by Johnny Kelly just so much me, Marta Mackova's Café was ultra stylish, David Montgomery's Pollenating rich and fascinating, For Sock's Sake by Carlo Vogele made me laugh, whilst Dik Jarman's Dad's Clock (via Short of the Week) made me sad, Le Chapeau from Michèle Cournoyer was extra-ordinarily hard-hitting, Sparrows are Children of Pigeons lived up to its name as an utterly charming piece by Nina Bisjiarina whilst, on the same subject, Bird Becomes Bird was an artistic beauty by Lucy Lee; equally artistic though no beauty, The Pearce Sisters was impressively drawn and animated under the direction of Luis Cook if a trifle repulsive at the end and The Man Who Planted Trees by Frédéric Back is so good it puts almost everything else in the shade and it's not fair on lesser mortals; leading to anything at all by the greats Aleksandr Petrov, Alison de Vere, Bruno Bozzetto, Yuri Norstein, Tim Burton, Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Paul Dreissen, Tomek Bagiński, Wendy Tilby, Alison Snowden, Suzie Templeton, John and Faith Hubley .......... but then in a blog of classics and newcomers there would be no space to mention the spectacular and successful (note the number of hits on YouTube) A Tale of Rock by University of Hertfordshire pair John Goodwin and Steve Payne, or two up and getting UK studios Slurpy and Little Nobody . Some that were in my top ten until a few minutes ago included Nick Uff's "Ok Toots" - I love Nick's free-rolling style, as figures blend into each other. The music too drove me to purchase the album and then become disappointed because it did not feature all those tracks I recalled from the Dennis Potter series. Nick is such a fresh talent, startlingly so. Typically he is so unassuming his movie does not have opening or closing credits! Andrew Gibbs "Florian" ... a South African living in London, laden with talent and such an obliging man. I turned to him for my forthcoming book because he has mastered the technique of cutouts. If you are a studio manager, and I know you occasionally pop in, commission him forthwith. Erica Russell's "Triangle" gave pause for thought, Erica has a grasp of shape, colour and shape and (and this is important) movement that is unsurpassed. Her work is like a balletic experience. Simply exquisite. Matt Latchford and Lucy Sullivan's very successful One eskimO/Hometime was in the list until a moment ago - Matt is a great man to communicate with and this such a good pop video, one I misinterpreted on first viewing - light on the eye, there is nevertheless a dark undercurrent that is maybe intentional, maybe me being miserable. The great Caroline Leaf and her "Two Sisters" (Entre deux soeurs) I considered so good that I wrote about it again for Short of the Week. Having revisited it for that purpose I was a little loathe to watch it again for this. That is the only reason such a moving and mature piece of work is not in my top ten. Totally irrational but a genuine reason for a gross omission. Or Selina Wagner and her "Takuskanskan" ...one of the most striking animators working in the UK. Her reworking of the native American story is beautiful to behold. Though created in a different manner it reminds me of Pota Tseng's "Musk" - Pota is a talent and a half. There are moments in his video of real beauty, breath-taking really. His use of 3D is an artform of its own. I place a wager now that he will win awards or be very rich, probably both. Unless, Selina beats him to it. And at the death I demoted Simone Massi's "I know who I am", a movie I found moving in a way I find difficult to articulate. I'm sure I failed to do it justice in my review.
Tomorrow we move on to numbers 9 and 10 in my movies of the year.