This has been a banner year for animation. Just consider the five Oscar nominees:
Brave (review here)
ParaNorman (review here)
Pirates: Band of Misfits
Wreck-it Ralph (review here)
And these two films which did not even make the cut:
Rise of the Guardians (review here)
A Cat in Paris
Here are a few brief reviews to fill in the gaps on the others I have seen:
If you are an animal lover, be prepared to cry... twice... in FRANKENWEENIE. Perhaps Tim Burton's best movie in many years. The character are great,and the visual style is perfectly appropriate for the subject matter, with lots of hidden in-jokes for adults and move lovers. I really loved this film, and it really shows the soft side of Burton. Most years this would be a sure thing for an Oscar. But against PARANORMAN and WRECK-IT RALPH (which won the Annie award last night), it will be a tough field.
PIRATES is a tough film to review because the standards set by Aardman are so high that every feature they have made has been a letdown compared to their early shorts (Wallace & Gromit, Creature Comfort). It's a shame, the shorts really show a sign of adult intelligence, whereas PIRATES is strictly for the kids. I think Rise of the Guardians should have been nominated in its place.
A CAT IN PARIS is a beautiful, traditionally animated French film with a nice story that is clearly for kids. The only think I did not like was some of the voice casting in the American translation, some of them seemed to go for a cartoon sound when it was unnecessary. Also, the film is short, barely an hour, although it would have been tough to stretch out the plot much more.
At least three of the five nominees are great films, deserving of the award.