Computer animation has been growing as a staple in film since the sixties. But it wasn’t until 1985’s Young Sherlock Holmes, that an entire character was fully CGI, for ten seconds. In the ten years between this milestone and the glory that was Pixar’s original Toy Story, the technology has made significant leaps and bounds. A metal man hunted down Arnold and John Connor and dinosaurs roamed the Earth In Jurassic Park.
Then Pixar blew the doors right off of what a computer can do when paired with imaginative animators and storytellers. Nowadays, just about every animated movie is computer animated instead of hand drawn. Even a lot of hand drawn animation is fed through a computer to be manipulated. Here are 10 CGI Movies That Are Artistic Masterpieces.
10 Toy Story 3
After a lot of us grew up watching two previous adventures of Woody and Buzz, not to mention several other countless Pixar classics, the OG crew returned to claim its throne. Toy Story 3 might be the most harrowing family film of all time. It’s a prison escape movie, just with toys, complete with an evil “warden,” Lotso Bear, voiced by the incomparable Ned Beatty. As usual with Pixar, they outside themselves on this one, animating the evil plush bear’s hair, and the entire daycare center/prison. The emotion in this film will have you reaching for the tissues even if it’s just a bunch toy.
A couple of orphans escape to France at the turn of the 19th Century. The Statue Of Liberty is still being built! Felicie dreams of dancing in the Paris Ballet and inadvertently swaps places with star pupil, Camille.
Despite committing fraud, Felecie is still invited to stay and do her best to audition for the Nutcracker. The simple but captivating story is made world’s better by breathtaking vistas, a wild climax, and of course dancing.
8 Happy Feet
Speaking of dancing, it’s tragically frowned upon in the Emperor Penguin Kingdom. Singing is how all of the penguins find a mate. Newborn baby Mumble has no singing voice, but the little guy can’t stop waddling to any and all music. From the guy who created Mad Max, George Miller gives a different take on his conservationist philosophy. The little guy decides he’s going to prove his worth by finding out why all of the penguins’ food is gone.
Fantasy and Disney get turned on their ear in the smash success Shrek. A big ugly ogre is tricked into helping a mean lord to get his land back from the fairy tale characters that he keeps exiling them to. The animation looks a little dated being nearly 20 years later, but in 2001 it was top-notch. The story is still as funny as it was then and the pairing of SNL alum like Michael Myers and Eddie Murphy are good for any movie at any time.
6 Big Hero 6
Take Disney magic and mix it with an obscure Marvel property and you get Big Hero 6. A promising engineer, Hiro looks to avenge his older brother, Tadashi’s death using Tadashi’s greatest invention – the giant cuddly medical assistant, Baymax. The pair, along with Hiro’s other engineering friends travel around San Fransokyo (San Francisco and Tokyo) to find the killer, who has also stolen Hiro’s amazing microbot invention and is going to use it to cause horrific damage.
You must’ve been frozen for several years if you don’t know someone who doesn’t have “Let It Go”‘constantly stuck in their heads. But besides that, Frozen is the epitome of old-school Disney mixed with CGI animation to tell a adaptation of The Snow Queen.
The story of sisters, Anna, Elsa, and their friends has garnered love from fans the world over, not just for the songs and the story, but some breathtaking visuals. Elsa creating her castle and inadvertently freezing Arendelle is one of the most beautiful choreographed scenes in animation in a long time.
4 The Lego Batman Movie
The right mix of Lego lunacy and 1966 Batman theatrics helped make The LEGO Batman Movie one of the best Bat-flicks out there, if not the most fun one. Batman likes to work alone but all of Gotham City’s superheroes don’t feel like leaving him alone or leaving all the world saving up to the Dark Knight. Meanwhile the Joker and the Rogues aren’t even all Bats has to contend with – LEGO versions of just about every terrible villain in the Warner Bros./LEGO library are out to destroy all of Gotham.
3 Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
Bottom line – if you don’t get chills when Miles Morales finally realizes he can handle the responsibility of being Spiderman; swinging around New York – then you might not have a pulse. Sony proves that Marvel aren’t the only ones who can do right by ol’ Webhead. The CGI in Into The Spider-Verse is used to make the movie seem like a living, breathing comic book. The movie didn’t win the Best Picture for no reason – seemingly every known version of Spidey comes together to stop the Kingpin from reversing time.
The first several moments in Up are some of the most beautifully animated moments on film, and also the most tragic. Two young people meet, fall in love, find out they can’t have children, plot out a course of adventure, and then Carl’s wife, Ellie passes away; and that’s just the first few minutes!
Grief-stricken, he becomes a bitter old man until he decides to embark on an amazing adventure and transforms his house into a giant hot air balloon. It’s one of Pixar’s greatest achievements animating the countless amounts of balloons and making what began as a heart-wrenching story into one of the most fun and lively Pixar movies ever.
As Moana sings her song, everyone’s happy living on the island but she wants to venture out into the ocean. Eventually she gets the chance to leave, find the heart of the ocean, and relish the chance to sail the high seas. In some ways, Moana is Disney’s crowning achievement to date. Animating an entire ocean to look as inviting as it does was a massive undertaking.