Five Directors Who Should Try Animation

Gore Verbinski made a nice pile of cash for directing the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films. So, what’s a director to do with all that money? Well, not go to Disney World, since he already has a lifetime pass to the Mouse House in all likelihood after the billions he helped them make. His answer was to create his own production company, Blind Wink, and enlist an animation studio to make a desert animal-themed Western. “Rango” hits theaters on Friday.

The results look promising and early reviews are raves, saying the film could finally break Pixar’s streak of winning Best Animated Feature at next year’s Oscars. So, what appears to be a successful switch from live-action to animation begs the question: if Verbinski can do it, who else could? Here are five directors that ought to be able to make an awesome animated feature.

Christopher Nolan

When you think of creative filmmakers these days, Nolan jumps to mind first for having made the most creative film of 2010 in “Inception.” That said, he’s a bit of a stretch for animation considering that he aims for maximum realism on his films and would prefer a naturally created special effect to a CGI one. I would see him as more likely to produce something animated in the future, perhaps simply an animated “Inception” TV series.

Nolan has proven himself one of the most formidable minds in cinema when given a blank canvas, so to have that an no limitations as created by reality, Nolan could create something as beautiful as it would be dangerous and downright confusing. Certainly it would have to be a darker animated film along the lines of “9” and not family fare as that doesn’t fit him much at all.

Robert Rodriguez

How easy it is to forget that the man who made “Machete” and “Sin City” also made three “Spy Kids” movies in as many years. However, I think he’d be completely capable of directing an animated film for either age group. “Sin City” had touches of animation, so he could certainly deliver a more noir pulp animated feature or go for all-out adventure, but either way, action would be heavily involved and likely with an intensity and excitement unmatched by any previous animation/action hybrids.

All those thoughts aside, I would happily never see Rodriguez make an animated film if it meant he would deliver two “Sin City” sequels in the next ten years.

Danny Boyle

Having made one Best Picture winner and one Best Picture nominee already, it would almost feel like a waste for Danny Boyle to waste his time with animation given he’s capable of making any film a good if not great film. Yet his diverse resumé offers all the proof you’d need that something quirky, exciting, scary, full of adventure and heartfelt would come out of any animated project he put his hands on.

“28 Days Later” and “Sunshine” cover the scary and exciting bit, “Millions” and “Slumdog Millionaire” cover the heartfelt and adventure end and “127 Hours” proves he make anything into an excellent film. Undoubtedly it would be some kind of cross-cultural story with love as an underlying motivational factor.

James Cameron

Cameron is perfectly happy pushing the boundaries of live-action filmmaking to extraordinary levels, but imagine the worlds he could create and stories he could tell by setting a film entirely in an animated universe. It would likely be something along the lines of “The Adventures of Tintin,” a motion-capture film under the vision of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson due out in December.

The film would take place entirely underwater, on a distant planet or in the future. Likely all three. In fact, I’m almost willing to bet one of the two planned “Avatar” sequels will be entirely in CGI anyway. The first film made it very clear that humans are bad, so why even put them in? If I had to guess though, we’re probably 20 years away from Cameron’s animated debut that will blow our minds in ways we can’t physically conceive given present technology.

Guillermo Del Toro

He’s producing some animated work, such as DreamWorks’ upcoming folklore figures tale “Rise of the Guardians,” so why not go behind the lens or whatever a director does specifically on an animated film? I feel like of all the names on this little list, Del Toro is the most likely to fulfill the request. His love of fantastical and supernatural creatures will one day force him to declare the real world unfit for his films and that reality cannot possibly house his creative brainchildren any longer.

He already loves making films about things typically done in animation, namely children who get caught between the real world and a world of complete fantasy known only to them. In fact, I bet if you asked a random movie fan the question “who directed ‘Coraline?'” they might guess that Del Toro had a hand in it and not Henry Selick. Del Toro should feel obligated to contribute his own piece of animated history. We’re already seeing a similar macabre fantasy director turn to animation in Tim Burton, who is working on turning his small film “Frankenweenie” into a feature due in October 2012. Burton’s been working much longer, however, so give Guillermo some time.


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