Best Animated Movies
Celebration, heartache, joy, grief, enthusiasm, and fury are all present in the finest animated films of all time, as they are in the best films of all time. Animated films have a longstanding experience of facing both the more mundane aspects of everyday life and big global and political subjects in a drama, whether in a comic or other light-hearted film. Animation is a medium that lends itself to a wide range of stories, many of which are heartbreaking. The top animated films of all time include both box office successes and sleeper hits. It's past time to give animation some respect and think about it outside of the confines of a simple cartoon.
These are the finest animated films of all time, ranging from classic cartoons to more current animation.
1. Toy Story (1995):
The importance of Pixar's first full-length picture on a technological level cannot be overstated. Toy Story was a phenomenon in and of itself. Still, it also transformed the visual style and filming method of practically every major studio animation for decades to come, thanks to the technologies developed by the studio (in conjunction with Apple).
Toy Story has a lush screenplay rich with characterization and jokes that are just as funny for adults as they are for children. In addition to its seismic impact, the movie is one of Pixar's best examples - it has a dynamic buddy-duo dynamic with Buzz (Tim Allen) and Woody (Tom Hanks); it examines the emotions of anthropomorphized toys, and it creates an entire imaginative world out of seemingly insignificant objects. Although the sequels get bigger, the first Toy Story is a sheer explosion of creative delight - and nothing has been the same since.
2. Fantasia (1940):
This ground-breaking movie from Walt Disney was the first Disney film to be dubbed into stereo, an ambitious compilation of eight animated musical vignettes accompanied by a score by Leopold Stokowski and emceed by Mickey Mouse. It was so expensive that it was re-released on the big screen so many times that it's one of the biggest movies of all time when adjusted for inflation Don't miss it the next time you see it on the big screen.
An advanced sound system - or, better yet, a live orchestra - brings the magic of Fantasia to life. Mussorgsky's "A Night on Bald Mountain", at the conclusion, portrays the Prince of Darkness driving the Church bells and "Ave Maria" into oblivion on the horizon as the sun rises. Fantasia puts you on a journey, without a doubt.
3. Finding Nemo (2003):
Pixar Studios employs some of the finest storytellers in the industry, and each film they create has the ability to tear at your heartstrings as well as make you laugh like you're six again. Finding Nemo is a film about love, courage, and determination that takes viewers on a journey through the ocean to reunite a family. Finding Nemo is still as popular now as it was when the movie first came out 16(!) years ago, thanks to its amusing characters, fantastic animation, and catchy music.
4. The Lion King (1994):
Normally, children would not queue to watch a mash-up of Hamlet and the Biblical stories of Joseph and Moses, but Disney managed to accomplish it with The Lion King. Elton John deserves credit for allowing Disney to educate children on more serious issues, such as a beloved father being trampled by a stampede of wildebeests.
The Lion King is a must-have on each American household's DVD collection because it is one of the most painful stories ever conveyed through American animation. It was the first Broadway musical to employ CGI animation, and it went on to become one of the best successful musicals of all time.
5. Bambi (1942):
It's still recognized as a classic film about a white-tailed deer who becomes the Great Prince of the Forest. Tyrus Wong's stunning paintings continue to inspire today's great artists. Bambi is a gateway horror film for young viewers, containing one of the most renowned (and most disturbing) death scenes in cinema history.
6. The Incredibles (2004):
The only decent Fantastic Four film cemented Brad Bird's reputation as a new maestro of animation. The Incredibles is a contemporary action masterpiece that contains more heart-stopping scenes than most R-rated explosive movies. It's elegant, classic, and energizing. It was followed by a financially successful 2018 sequel that was enjoyable but hurried, losing the unusually long burn and character-driven buildup that made the first so memorable.
The Incredibles showcased the types of familial relationships at play in companies like The Fantastic Four because Brad Bird knew how to mix superheroic action and witty comedy long before the Marvel Cinematic Universe's developers did. Bird's debut Pixar feature, The Incredibles, catapulted him into the company's 'Brain Trust,' a group of directors responsible for collaborating with other filmmakers.
The movie follows Bob (Craig T. Nelson) and Helen Parr, who have retired from the hero game to raise their family, but Bob longs for action despite the government's suggestion to stay quiet.
7. Inside Out (2015):
Inside Out is the most complicated film Pixar has ever made, and it is groundbreaking in its representation of emotions and psychology, especially in a way that children and adults can understand. Riley, a little girl who travels across the nation, adjusts to her new circumstances, and grows up, seems a little dry for a children's film. Instead, we see how all of this plays out in Riley's thoughts as she works through her complex feelings and learns that sometimes it's necessary to feel horrible in order to process things correctly.
The film is a blast, thanks to imaginative set pieces within Riley's head (her dreams are framed as sitcom tapings) that effortlessly translate into her emotions and motivations, and a stellar voice cast led by an effervescent Amy Poehler as the emotion "Happiness" and the oppositely dour Phyllis Smith as the emotion "Sadness."
8. Cinderella (1950):
Walt Disney created a profession out of taking risks and making big decisions. His company escaped bankruptcy in a dramatic manner with a musical fantasy version of an oft-adapted fairy tale classic after pricey films Pinocchio, Bambi, and Fantasia all tanked at the box office (later to achieve the popularity and accolades they deserved on home video). In terms of character and narrative, it's definitely not up to par with its predecessors today, but it's still a masterpiece. Disney entered a new era as a result of its phenomenal financial success.
9. Beauty and the Beast (1991):
Disney's adaptation of La Belle et la Bete was the first animated picture to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, and we assume it was also the first film to dabble with bestiality, though we haven't done any studies on the subject.
An enchantress curses a greedy prince-turned-beast for his pride in this G-rated adaptation of the traditional fairy tale. He must earn the affection of a beautiful woman in order to convert himself and his castle full of employees back into humans. Enter Belle, a badass who's well-read, self-sufficient, and has high enough standards that she doesn't fall for the town's brain-dead gorgeous boy (by old Disney standards).
Instead, she's drawn to a wounded monster of a guy who both challenges her and respects her. He is, however, still essentially a buffalo on two legs.
10. Aladdin (1992):
Romance, enchanted carpets, faraway realms, and a genie in a lamp Aladdin, an adaptation of a One Thousand- and One-Night folktale, was the first film in Hollywood to use A-Listers (Robin Williams) as known voice performers. Aside from the talent, the Disney classic Aladdin has a lot to offer. In layman's terms, the story revolves around a homeless man who develops feelings for a princess. It's very standard Romeo and Juliette fare. You've got a childhood classic when you combine a wicked Grand Vizier, a monkey, plus a couple of incredibly memorable melodies.
11. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018):
Not only did 2018's finest animated picture (and, perhaps, the best superhero film of the year) have a half-black, half-Latino Spider-Man who wore Js and bombed subways, but it also had Gwen Stacy as Spider-Woman, an entire pig dressed as Spider-Man, and much more. Into the Spider-Verse took the elegance of comic book art and expertly reproduced it on the screen, and Sony made care to patent it so they could cash in on it in the future. On top of that, it's simply a wonderful film with a great plot, a lot of laughs, and a lot of action. The standard has been raised for animated superhero flicks.
12. How to Train Your Dragons (2010):
While DreamWorks Animation has been criticized for its franchise dragon, the film trilogy exemplifies why franchises should not guarantee compromise. How To Train Your Dragon is a story about a boy and his dog, created by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders (DeBlois directed both subsequent films).
In the series (and its spin-offs on small screens), the protagonists are nerdy Vikings, while the dog is a powerful Night Fury dragon, equipped with natural camouflage and able to shoot plasmablasts. Instead of letting the protagonists simply run or fly in place, they allow the story to develop and deepen, and the film's style is painterly and often breathtaking.
13. The Jungle Book (1967):
Is there a Disney film with a more iconic and timeless soundtrack than this one? In 40 years, we could still be singing 'Let It Go' from Frozen, but until then, 'Bare Necessities' and 'I Wanna Be Like You' rule supreme. As if Disney's team went to Haight-Ashbury to get ideas for this loose, hippyish take on Rudyard Kipling's India-set tale, The Jungle Book has a definite 1960s vibe from the vultures with mop tops and British accents to the snake's tripped-out eyes. And, of course, Baloo is still Disney's most well-known character (the Bill Murray of bears). Walt died during the production of this picture, but its tremendous box-office success is now credited with saving the studio's animation branch from collapse.
14. Hercules (1997):
Despite being underappreciated at the time of release, Hercules was a pleasant entry in the Disney Renaissance era, due to a mix of mythically-inspired animation and screwball-style comedy after Hades' henchmen failed to render him mortal. Following this, Ron Clements and John Musker created another underdog tale, about the son of Greek gods Zeus and Hera who becomes a human outcast with heavenly powers. Two of the cast's highlights are Danny DeVito as a satyr and Susan Egan as the antidamsel-in-distress Meg in the Barbara Stanwyck style. With a gospel-inspired soundtrack - not to mention Michael Bolton's thunderous song of 'Go the Distance,' you've got yourself an exciting, sneakily humorous adventure.
15. Tangled (2010):
Rapunzel from the Brothers Grimm must have been a bit of a puzzle for modern Disney. The days of a Disney princess mooning around a tower, hoping for a knight in shining armour to come to her rescue are long gone. So, in this version (executive produced by Pixar's John Lasseter), the attractive prince has been replaced by an arrogant robber named Flynn Ryder. Rapunzel thwacks him with a frying pan when he initially smarms his way upstairs. This sassy princess, spinning her hair like a rope, will do her own fleeing, thank you very much. Tangled is brimming with vigour and wit. Maximus the army horse (on a mission to catch Flynn) and Pascal the chameleon is the best of the creatures.
16. Grave of the Fireflies (1988):
Studio Ghibli was at the height of its powers in 1988, delivering two very personal monuments to young perseverance that demonstrated the depth and quality of their work. Hayao Miyazaki's masterwork, My Neighbor Totoro (coming soon!) was a work of extraordinary beauty and elegance. But Isao Takahata's Grave of the Fireflies, possibly the bleakest and least-forgiving picture in our top 100, matches - or maybe surpasses - it. The narrative follows 2 kids, Setsuko and Seita, as they mourn their mother in an American bombing strike and are left to fend for themselves during WWII.
It's all fun at first, but when sickness and hunger set in, the film deepens and darkens, eventually reaching a point of full emotional exhaustion and pure, awful despair. This is not a film for the faint of heart.
17. Spirited Away (2001):
Despite the fact that Hayao Miyazaki's coming-of-age fable is so entrenched in stunning, culturally unique Japanese imagery that it caught the world's imagination, the film that launched Studio Ghibli to the Western mainstream is not its most accessible effort. Chihiro (Remi Hiiragi) is stuck in a magnificent, mythological bathhouse frequented by ghosts after her parents are converted into pigs, making it darker than standard Disney fare. The witch Yubaba (Mari Natsuki) forces her to labor there, and she establishes a bond with the dragon-boy Haku (Miyu Irino).
The narrative is occasionally sloppy, especially in the second hour of the film, but overall Spirited Away is a fascinating and compelling tale exploring themes of identity, spirituality, personal growth, environmental ethics, and moral ambiguity that transcend good and evil.