The Polar ExpressThe Polar Express (Robert Zemeckis, 2004)
At first the animation seems a bit too ostentatiously realistic, with the perfect depictions of a slightly frosted window, a flashlight beam complete with the imperfections from the bulb's shadow, a keyhole reflected on a child's eyeball. Also, the people seem a bit creepy, since they are not real, but not quite fake either. But over the course of the movie, disbelief is suspended to the point where I actually thought "This kid is not a bad actor." "Tom Hanks" is also good as usual, and his hobo is an even better Coen brothers character than his turn in The Ladykillers. I think I'm underrating this slightly since I feel if I was more than 20 years younger, this would be the greatest movie of all time. I love it now, probably because it's a religious allegory set among steam trains and retro machinery of all periods. The world of the Polar Express is a delight, with an obviously perfect reproduction of a late 20s Baldwin, a Victorian railroad car, and a 30s observation car. I loved the North Pole, since it looks like a combination of a medieval city and my neighborhood. (The towers at the North Pole are copies of the Pullman clock tower.) Here is the next Christmas classic.