[With 2022 all wrapped up and we’ve had time to let the previous year sink in, it’s time for our fifth annual Golden Cages Awards! Over the next two weeks, the staff at Flixist will be announcing the winners in sixteen different categories that range from all different genres and categories before ultimately revealing what our best film of 2022 was. So sit back, relax, and come join us as we take one final look at 2022 and see the notable movies the year had to offer.]
“Animation is a medium, not a genre.” “Animation is cinema.” “Animation is not just for kids.” These and similar sentiments have been shared by Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (partial) namesake himself, across the filmmaker’s numerous appearances in promotion of and receiving honors for his latest film, a heartbreakingly beautiful adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s canonical puppet boy, co-directed with stop-motion master Mark Gustafson.
To present Pinocchio as anything less than a sophisticated film would be a disservice. In its adaptation (co-written by Over the Garden Wall’s Patrick McHale) del Toro and Gustafson’s film tackles Collodi’s source material by way of a historic World War II lens, with fascism on the rise and obedience (or puppetry) the de facto rule of the day. Jingoism, xenophobia, the loss of a child, acceptance of death… All loftier topics than many live action films of this promotional scale could aspire to.
But thoughtful subject matter alone does not a good film make. Good thing Pinocchio is not only good, it’s excellent. Meticulously animated by scores of talent (many scenes in Guillermo del Tor’s Pinocchio are the work of a single animator, working the entire moment; something of a rarity in the industry, schedule-oriented as it is) featuring the Mexican master’s signature touch of macabre design, Pinocchio is simply a delight to behold. It is overflowing with color and personality, its movement grounded and weighty. It is a masterpiece of storytelling, weaving its fablelike yarn of fantasy while remaining utterly of the moment and relevant. The aforementioned fascism on the rise feels, unfortunately, more relevant than in more recent years. Del Toro has always played with the corruption of power and the demonization of the different, his “monsters” more misunderstood than miserable. Man is always the most dangerous animal!
So while we here at Flixist present Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio as the finest Animated Film of the year, this writer would go a step further. Pinocchio, not the first to do so, transcends its medium. It exudes sophistication, craftsmanship on all levels, and, most crucially, captures the imagination and attention. A privilege that Netflix stepped in to see this long-planned project through, though a shame more weren’t able to experience Pinocchio in a theater. Though wherever you encounter it, there’s little doubt it’ll delight from root to branch.