Many writers called 2009 the greatest year in the history of animation, or the equivalent to 1939 in Hollywood history. One writer commented that animated movies have become more mature, while live-action movies have grown less mature. What makes me really happy about this new "renaissance" is that it's made up of films from all corners, i.e. they're not all computer animated, 3D spectaculars. Case in point is the new The Secret of Kells (20 screens), which surprised everyone when it turned up as a recent Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature in place of Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo and other contenders. I watched it with folded arms, convinced that the Academy had gone mad, but soon whatever magic enchanted the voters enchanted me as well.
Set many centuries ago in a remote outpost, it tells the story of a young boy, Brendan (voiced by Evan McGuire), who is never allowed to venture outside the compound's walls. The boy's uncle and guardian, Abbot Cellach (voiced by Brendan Gleeson), keeps building the walls higher to keep out attacks, and life keeps getting drearier, until Brother Aidan (voiced by Mick Lally) turns up and introduces Brendan to the power of books and illustrations. The rest of the movie concerns their efforts to continue writing in, and protecting, the book.