Remember watching cartoons as a kid? Remember how excited you got for every new animated film release? Remember when your parents told you you were getting too old for cartoons? Remember how you still watch them anyway? This list is for those of you who made up an excuse (or a niece) to go see Frozen. And hey, most of these movies weren’t made for kids, anyway. Nanner-nanner-boo-boo.
Chico y Rita
This Spanish-directed, Oscar-nominated film made waves in 2010 for its mature subject matter and beautiful animation. Told largely in flashbacks, Chico y Rita tells the story of Chico, a talented piano player in pre-revolutionary Cuba, who falls in love with the beautiful Rita, a budding singer. Their relationship is tested again and again as their careers take them from Havana, to New York, Paris, Las Vegas, and more. If the slick visuals and heartfelt story don’t do it for you, hopefully the music from Bebo Valdéz and the epic trip through the history of Latin music in the United States will. Seriously, Chico and his friend even get to play Forrest Gump to Chano Pozo’s murder. They play with Tito Puente. Chico’s song gets covered by Nat King Cole. Chico y Rita is a great movie set within a history we don’t get to see enough of.
This is probably the most aggressively cute film on this list.
Anina — based on the novel Anina Yatay Salas by Sergio López Suárez — tells the story of its eponymous triple-palindrome named heroine (that’s a story point) who stands up to a bully at school only to receive “the weirdest punishment in the history of weird punishments” –- she’s given a sealed black envelope that she isn’t allowed to open for a week. Thus, begins her adventure. It’s a movie for the Matilda lover in all of us.
The private lives of Alzheimer’s patients may not seem like the most obvious choice of subject for an animated film, but when you discover that Arrugas is based on a graphic novel, it makes that much more sense. It’s the story of Emilio, a newcomer to a care home, and his new roommate Miguel as they struggle to maintain their dignity and try to hide Emilio’s deteriorating condition from the doctors and staff.
What would happen if Toy Story and Rudo y Cursi had a baby? I mean probably something more fucked up than this movie but you get the point. Metegol tells the story of a young boy named Amadeo who must face off against his rival on the pitch with the help of his disassembled foosball team. Come for the gorgeous CGI animation, stay for how Argentine the foosball players are.
Una película de huevos
This weird Mexican film from Huevocartoon about an egg named Toto trying to return to a farm so he can hatch into a chick, rather than be eaten for breakfast, raises more questions than it answers. Questions like: was this movie intended for children or for adults? Did the chocolate egg need to look like a Sambo doll, wear gold pants and have a really thick Cuban accent? How does this egg-into-chick thing work if the egg has a personality and can walk around? Is this clarified in the sequel? How come a strip of bacon can walk around, too? Why do I find this all so fascinating?
Gordo, calvo y bajito
I love the way this film looks. Like the Oscar-nominated Waltz with Bashir, this movie defines a look for itself, an experimental visual language that serves its message. Blending photo-realistic backgrounds with sketchy, impressionistic characters and huge washes of color this is the rare animated movie that totally eschews pretensions of realism in favor of bold style. Gordo, calvo, y bajito is the story of a man who undergoes a crisis when, after years of blaming his dull life on his appearance (described by the title), he meets a man even shorter, balder, and fatter than himself who is also more successful and a womanizer.