Coraline (2009, Henry Selick)

1. Only movie in recent memory that makes me hope for a special-edition DVD so I can sit and watch making-of featurettes all night long to answer the record number of “HOW did they DO that”s which hit me during the screening.

2. Best use of 3D that I have ever seen. Implemented not to throw stuff at the audience’s face, but to bring us into the movie’s world and immerse us in all the handcrafted marvels within.

3. And a good, extremely imaginative story on top of that. The plotting gets a little video-game problem-solvey towards the end and Coraline’s own character could use more exploration, but hey, even WALL-E had problems. No need to nitpick when there’s so much here worth appreciating.

Mopey-teen title character deals with her new home and inattentive parents. Meets a talkative, twitchy boy with the disturbing-in-a-kids-movie name of Whyborn, a flea-training circus strongman neighbor, and two candy-appreciating, dog-collecting women who are also washed-up performers. Then Coraline finds a doorway into John Malkovich’s head, where dad is robotically nice (and sings just like They Might Be Giants), the performing neighbors are impossibly entertaining, and Whyborn shuts up… all catering to Coraline’s desire that everything should center around her. Fortunately, a stray cat fills her in on the diabolical reality involving an interdimensional witch who steals the eyes of children, and even more fortunately, the witch stupidly allows Coraline to bargain and cheat her way home, leading to a happy ending where C. has learned to better appreciate her real life.

Also: the armatures were fantastic! Guy named Jeremy Spake was their armaturist… I imagine we’ll be seeing big things from him in the future.