I honestly see this as obvious. I'm not trying to be funny. And I can't work out if you don't think this is obvious, or you don't agree that this would be useful.
Just imagine it on an ecommerce page: http://www.google.co.uk/products?q=shoes&hl=en&show=...
Also imagine using it to fine tune an optimisation problem: you adjust a series of sliders that define the relative priorities you place on certain properties of the items in the dataset, it then does a weighted sort. You can see directly how the changes on the sliders affect the ranking of the items.
If you didn't have the animation it would not be easy to see which items had risen and which fallen. You would have to compare your memory of the order before the change with what you're looking at. This is cognitively very difficult, and it would lead to you toggling the value back and forth endlessly and comparing the order.
Basically any stat or inventory interface in a game would benefit from this. Or any interface where the task is solving an optimisation problem really.
Not all whizzy effects are gimmicks to be sneered at from the terminal. Don't throw the UX baby out with the eye candy bathwater.
EDIT: Another example - when toggling between different properties to sort the dataset by, the amount and speed of the animation describes the correlation of the two properties, without requiring you to parse any text. Animation is just another way to impart information that doesn't require reading, alongside color, size, and other spatial/physical properties.
At the end of the day, I think it's polish that for almost all cases the user will be better served if the animation were to be turned off since it is a waste of time. It is very cool though!