Best Animated Movies of All Time - Featured - StudioBinder

Over the years, animated movies have changed the landscape of cinema with fantastic imagery, other-wordly stories, and sobering morals. We all remember watching animated movies when we were children, whether it be the work of Disney, Pixar, Studio Ghibli, Dreamworks, or another production house – but there’s so much more to animated movies than what we saw as children. In this article, we’re going to rank the best animated movies of all time – from Aardman Animations to Zootopia.

Each film on this list was selected because it offers something extraordinary to the world of animated cinema, whether it be for its art-style, creativity, story, or legacy. The films on this list also encompass a wide breadth of animation techniques such as rotoscoping, claymation, stop-motion, hand-drawn, and computer-generated.

Now that we’ve broken down how the films were ranked, let’s jump in!

Best Cartoon Movies

40. Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Original Voice Recording of Beauty and the Beast

Ah yes, “true beauty is on the inside not out” as many have been told by watching Beauty and the Beast. This Disney classic works in spite of its trite message for a few key reasons. First and foremost, the story is tight and well-executed. Second, the animation and music are classic.

Beauty and the Beast is so close to being as impactful as the fables it’s inspired by but falls short by failing to commit to its tragic moral in the final act.

Best Animated Movies of All Time

Conclusion

Beauty and the Beast was the first animated film to ever be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Best Cartoon Movies

39. The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

Oscar Nominated Song from The Triplets of Belleville

The Triplets of Belleville established writer/director Sylvain Chomet as one of the premier talents working in the animation industry. Before Triplets, Chomet worked primarily as a writer and graphic artist for comics. Although in 1996, he released his first film, a short titled The Old Lady and the Pigeons.

Loads of modern critics cite The Triplets of Belleville as one of the greatest animated movies of the 21st century for its unique animation style and an infectious soundtrack.

Animated Films

Conclusion

The Triplets of Belleville is a wild animated film that’s full of ambiguous but nuanced imagery.

Best Animated Movies List

38. Aladdin (1992)

Behind the Scenes  •  Recording Aladdin

Disney’s Aladdin is another animated classic that was inspired by a much more gruesome fable. In the original fable, taken from the Arabian folktale compilation One Thousand and One Nights, Aladdin is much more violent and the stakes of the story are far more complex. 

The Disney version simplified the story and toned down the gruesome aspects so that it would appeal to younger audiences.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Robin Williams elevates Disney’s Aladdin with a magnificent voice performance as the Genie.

Best Animated Movies of All Time

37. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999)

South Park  •  What Would Brian Do?

No list of the best animations is complete without Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s South Park. In 1999, the duo released the bombastic black comedy musical South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, which, of course is a phallic euphemism. 

South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is a film that speaks to a very specific time in cinematic history and world history as well. Perhaps no piece of entertainment better embodies the proliferation of juvenile rebellion in the 1990s better than South Park.

Animated Films

Conclusion

It’s easy to forget just how revolutionary South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut was at the time of release, but there should be no doubting its influence on the world of animation

Best Cartoon Movies

36. Shrek (2001)

Shrek Storyboard Clip with Chris Farley

I like to think of Shrek as a complete deconstruction of the animated movies that inspired it, like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast. That being said, it’s hard to make a genre/cliche “deconstruction” film. So why does Shrek work so well? The main reason is due to how it exaggerates the cliches for the comedic effect.

Sure, not all of the jokes hit above the brow, but they don’t have to. Shrek is a family-friendly tale of an ogre and a donkey saving a princess and finding friendship and love along the way. Further, there’s a place for crude humor now and then, as long as it doesn’t become overbearing on the story.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Shrek was one of the first blockbuster computer-animated films and went on to inspire three sequels.

Best Cartoon Movies

35. Kung Fu Panda (2008)

Kung Fu Panda  •  Jack Black Trailer

How can anybody hate Kung Fu Panda? The film takes the traditional hero’s journey cliche and flips it on its head with a truly ridiculous setting. In addition, Kung Fu Panda has a phenomenal voice cast that features Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Ian McShane, Angeline Jolie and Jack Black in the starring role.

Kung Fu Panda is just a real crowd-pleaser film that’s designed to satisfy audiences of all ages.

Best Animated Movies of All Time

Conclusion

Kung Fu Panda offers action, comedy, and great voice performances in spades.

Best Animated Movies of All Time

34. Yellow Submarine (1968)

Yellow Submarine  •  Original Trailer

By 1968, the Beatles had already gone through the global phenomena of “Beatlemania” and were moving in a new, experimental direction. Perhaps no work better embodies this hallucinogenic period better than the animated film Yellow Submarine.

Yellow Submarine is the third and only animated movie of The Beatles. Although the band appears just briefly in a live-action segment at the end, some of the music from their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band plays throughout the film. Yellow Submarine is a psychedelic trip into the unconscious, elevated by a great soundtrack and distinct, pioneering animation.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Yellow Submarine is the best of The Beatles’ films and an innovative experiment in animation.

Best Cartoon Movies

33. Paperman (2012)

Paperman  •  Short Film

Paperman is proof that animations don’t need to be feature-length to have a strong, emotional impact. At just seven minutes, Paperman is tight, focused, and consistently filled with heart and character. 

The short also makes great use of black and white animation by masterfully controlling light and shadows.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Paperman makes great use of the short-animated film format with unfettered, focused direction.

Best Animated Movies Ever

32. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?  •  “Drink the Drink”

Let’s be honest, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?  is a buckwild film. The first time that I ever saw it, I was probably ten years old, and utterly shocked by what I was seeing. There’s alcoholism, a seductively drawn cartoon lady, and film noir tropes in spades. For a movie predominated by “toons,” it’s surprisingly dense.

To top it off, how about casting stars Christopher Llyod and Bob Hoskins in the leading roles? Despite all of the strange, seemingly conflicting factors, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? works. In fact, it works quite well- not only as a cross blend of live-action and animation but as an original take on film noir as well.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is preserved in the National Library of Congress as a work of cultural, historical, or aesthetic significance. I’d venture to say that the film is significant for all three, although largely inconsistent.

Best Animated Movies of All Time

31. Zootopia (2016)

Behind the Scenes of Zootopia

No doubt one of the most inventive animated movies in recent years, Zootopia is also one of the best. Disney is no stranger to using animals as conduits for telling human stories, which is evident by films like Lady and the Tramp, The Aristocats and Robin Hood

Zootopia combines the best aspects of the police procedural and the good-cop/bad-cop trope and exaggerates them for comedic effect. In addition, Zootopia benefits from some state of the art computer animation from Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Zootopia is a fun, big-budget picture from Disney that hosts marvelous visuals and a great cast of voice actors.

Best Animated Movies of All Time

30. Akira (1988)

Animation and Coloring Process of Akira

Akira is one of the all-time most influential animated films. Written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira is an uber-violent and mature story of a futuristic Tokyo that’s wrought with corruption and crime.

Ironically, Akira takes place in a dystopian 2019, just like Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Both films share considerable similarities, such as a cyberpunk aesthetic, an autocratic central authority, and an inhuman antagonist. But whereas Blade Runner is more grounded in scientific reason, Akira is focused on philosophical and epistemological questions that evade human rational thought.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Love it or hate it, Akira remains essential viewing for anybody with an interest in animation.

Best Cartoon Movies

29. Ernest and Celestine (2012)

Ernest and Celestine  •  French Trailer

Ernest and Celestine feels like watching an old watercolor book come to life. As such, the film makes strong use of the nostalgia that so many have for watercolor drawings.

The film is also incredibly rich in subtext and social commentary. In Ernest and Celestine, bears and mice aren’t allowed to intermingle, but when a mouse and a bear become friends, the entire idea of prejudice is put on trial.

Animated Films

Conclusion

If you’re tired of watching the “same old thing,” stray off the beaten path, settle in and enjoy the great animated film Ernest and Celestine.

Best Cartoon Movies

28. The Illusionist (2010)

The Illusionist  •  Official Trailer

The Illusionist is the second film from Sylvain Chomet on this list, and it’s also his best. The film has been somewhat brushed past in recent years due to a controversy involving the inspiration for the script, which involves accusations that screenwriter Jacques Tati wrote the story as part of dealing with the guilt of being an errant father.

Although the film has been mired in controversy since release, The Illusionist still stands on its own for its undeniably beautiful animation and a mature story that strikes a chord with adult audiences.

Animated Films

Conclusion

The Illusionist is one of the most beautifully animated films I’ve ever seen for its unique art-style and moving story.

Best Cartoon Movies

27. Klaus (2019)

How Klaus Made 2D Animation Look 3D

Klaus is the newest animated film on this list, but it certainly has the chance to be one of the most enduring. The film is a subversive take on the story of Christmas that we’ve all seen recycled from year to year: Santa Claus brings yuletide cheer to children from ear to ear. Ah yes, we’ve all seen this story so many times that it’s become contrived. So how does Klaus subvert it? 

It starts at the foundation with the film’s protagonist Jesper who needs the spirit of giving more than anyone else. So what’s his job? He’s a postman. Where is he a postman? In a place where nobody writes letters. Great, so he probably just lets everybody go about their business and does nothing. That would be too easy! Jesper has to mail a certain amount of letters or else his father, the postmaster general, will cut him off from the family fortune. This well-layered plot is further supported by deconstructing popular Christmas myths, i.e., the notion that Santa loves cookies, shimmying down the chimney, and the “naughty list.”

Ultimately, Klaus may very well become a Christmas classic for its meaningful story and stunning animation.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Klaus is a Christmas treat for the whole family, all told through stunning 2D animation.

Best Animated Movies of All Time

26. Finding Nemo (2003)

Making of Finding Nemo

“Fish are friends, not food” so say the sharks in the Disney Pixar classic Finding Nemo. This nautical animation follows the titular clownfish Nemo, who becomes separated from his dad after dreaming of life out in the great unknown.

Finding Nemo is an iconic animated picture and one of the most celebrated films of the 21st century.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Finding Nemo was a major technical achievement in how artists animate water and life under the ocean.

Greatest Animated Movies of All Time

25. Monsters Inc. (2001)

Making of Monsters Inc.

Few films burst with originality and lifelike Monsters Inc. Who ever thought that there would be so much humanity hidden in a film about monsters scaring children? From character design to world-building, Monsters Inc. is a masterclass. 

Anchored by iconic lead performances from John Goodman and Billy Crystal, Monsters Inc. delivers on comedy and drama for all ages.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Monsters Inc. is as colorful visually as it is comedically, ultimately amounting to an animated film that thoroughly entertains.

Best Cartoon Movies

24. The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

The Lego Batman Movie  •  Batman’s Lonely Life

The Lego Batman Movie is hilarious. Not only did the writers of the film have to take on the mammoth challenge of upping the comedy of 2014’s The Lego Movie, but they also delivered the most subversive cinematic take on Gotham’s caped crusader that’s ever been made.

The scene where Batman watches Jerry Maguire profess his love by saying “you complete me” as a subtextual reference to his relationship with the Joker is just masterful. There are so many other moments in the film that make it such a joy to experience both visually and comedically as well.

Best Animated Movies of All Time

Conclusion

If you’re tired of seeing the same old superhero movies over and over, look no further than The Lego Batman Movie for something refreshing and new.

Best Cartoon Movies

23. The Wind Rises (2013)

Making of Hayao Miyazaki’s “Last Film” 

Often overlooked in favor of his more fantastic animes, The Wind Rises is the last feature-length film from auteur director Hayao Miyazaki. The Wind Rises is a historical drama and fictionalized biopic of Japanese aviation titan Jiro Horikoshi. It’s also Miyazaki’s most intimate picture.

As a child, Horikoshi dreamed of becoming a pilot but was exempted from pursuing the career because of poor eyesight. As such, he became an engineer instead. Sadly his world-class aviation skills were used for destruction rather than peace. 

In the end, The Wind Rises is the most visually stunning of all of Miyazaki’s films, and a brilliant, yet sometimes inaccurate story of the mythic Mitsubishi Zero Fighter.

Animated Films

Conclusion

The making of The Wind Rises is beautifully chronicled in the documentary feature The Kingdom of Dreams of Madness.

BEST ANIMATED MOVIES OF ALL TIME

22. Tower (2016)

Tower  •  Official Trailer

Tower is one of the most fascinating entries on this list, not only for its rotoscoping animation but for its combination of archival footage and testimonies as well. There aren’t many animated documentaries, nor are there many rotoscope films, but Tower takes the unique challenge of combining these two sub-genres and succeeds expertly.

The documentary uniquely recreates the 1966 shootings at the University of Texas Austin, perpetrated by Charles Whitman. It’s a difficult thing to watch, but an important lesson in American history.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Viewer discretion advised, Tower is a painstaking thing to watch. However, the fact that it’s so hard to watch speaks volumes to the impact of the story.

Best Cartoon Movies

21. Hair Love (2019)

Hair Love  •  Full Movie

Hair Love is the second animated short to make the list, and although it only came out in 2019, it’s already become one of the most acclaimed in the world. The film follows the story of a young girl trying to style her hair, aided by the efforts of her father.

Hair Love marks a major step forward for representation in the world of animation. This is a film about the unique challenges of an underrepresented group of people, told in a beautiful and inspiring way.

Animated Films

Conclusion

The world of diverse animation is becoming more appreciated, evident by Hair Love winning Best Short Film at the 2019 Academy Awards.

Greatest Animated Movies of All Time

20. Pinocchio (1940)

The Making of Pinocchio

Many critics swear by the fact that Pinocchio is one of the top animated movies ever made. I’ve never been as infatuated by the film as others, but there’s no denying its massive influence on animation.

Pinocchio is one of the most famous stories in the world, one that follows a puppet who is quite literally animated to life by his master/father Gepetto. Along with his “conscience” Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio must prove that he’s a good soul in order to become a real boy.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Look no further than Pinocchio for instruction on the fundamentals of animated storytelling.

Best Cartoon Movies

19. The Lion King (1994)

Pride of the Lion King  •  Mini Documentary

By taking inspiration from  Shakespeare, The Lion King weaves a classic tale of family, murder, and legacy across the desert plains. The Lion King has become one of the most iconic animated films in the world. In the years since release, The Lion King has inspired a Broadway play of the same name that has grossed upwards of $8 billion to date.

The Lion King features an all-star voice cast, headlined by James Earl Jones as the villainous Mufasa.

Best Animated Movies of All Time

Conclusion

The Lion King is the perfect film to introduce younger generations to the pervading theme of fratricide in stories.

Best Animated Movies Ever

18. Mulan (1998)

Mulan  •  A Girl Worth Fighting For

Who doesn’t love the soundtrack to Mulan? From “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” to “A Girl Worth Fighting For” and nearly every other song in between, the music of Mulan is just loads of fun.

Also, it’s no secret that Disney animated movies often paint their female protagonists as damsels in distress, but with Mulan, the title character is a heroic fighter. It helps that the film is also elevated by some strong attention to period detail to juxtapose the more fantastic elements of the story, such as the existence of the magical dragon Mushu.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Mulan marked a major step forward for Disney animated movies and how they empower characters.

Greatest Animated Movie of All Time

17. Ratatouille (2015)

Progression Reel  •  Ratatouille

Ratatouille is why I love Pixar. Imagine being in a boardroom and hearing a pitch about a rat who becomes a chef? And his trusty sidekick is a young man named Alfredo Linguini, get it? Like the pasta dish alfredo linguini? Oh, and the name of the movie is ‘Ratatouille’, like the French stew.

It’s unbelievable that this film got made but I’m sure glad that it did. Not often do we get such an unfettered vision for a film as we did with Ratatouille. My only suggestion going forward is that there must be a sequel, and it has to be named Rata-TWO-ie.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Pixar makes us desperately care about a rat who wants to become a chef with Ratatouille, which is an achievement in and of itself.

GREATEST ANIMATED MOVIES OF ALL TIME

16. Spirited Away (2001)

Making of Spirited Away

Spirited Away is widely regarded as the best of Hayao Miyazaki’s feature films and a major catalyst for growing interest in anime outside of Japan. The film is about a young girl who becomes swept away in another world and is inspired by classic Japanese folklore.

Spirited Away was a massive success at the box office and is still one of the highest-grossing films ever in Japan.

Animated Films

Conclusion

There are a million reasons to watch Spirited Away, but none are more important than Miyazaki’s masterful direction.

BEST CARTOON MOVIES

15. The Iron Giant (1999)

The Iron Giant  •  Re-Release Trailer

Brad Bird is one of the most famous filmmakers, having worked on some of Disney’s biggest juggernaut movies of the 21st century. But before Brad Bird would go on to direct The IncrediblesRatatouille, 
and Tomorrowland, he made his best film to date, The Iron Giant.

The Iron Giant is a breathtaking piece of cinematic animation for its scope and unbridled vision. The film is also far ahead of its time for the ways in which it addresses the issues of automation, weaponization, and the threat of the unknown.

Animated Films

Conclusion

The Iron Giant is a titan of animated cinema and the best film from director Brad Bird.

Best Animated Movies of All Time

14. Wall-E (2008)

Wall-E  •  Official Trailer 

Wall-E is kind of messed up. It’s also the shockingly high concept and nuanced for a film that was largely marketed to children. The titular robot Wall-E is built as a tragic character, his job is literally to be a Waste Allocation Load-Lifter for Earth (WALL-E.)

Perhaps Wall-E strikes such a chord because its terrifying setting looks more and more possible with each passing day. The world where Wall-E exists is littered with trash, obesity, and corrupt corporations- which seems to be the direction our planet is unfortunately headed unless we can learn to be better.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Wall-E may very well end up being a film that demonstrates considerable foresight like the Sci-Fi classics before it.

Best Cartoon Movies

13. Persepolis (2007)

Marjane Satrapi on Persepolis

Persepolis is a landmark achievement in animated storytelling. Adapted from comics of the same name by author and graphic artist Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis is a mostly autobiographical look at Marjane’s early life living in Iran and abroad. 

Much of Persepolis is about the unique ways in which women deal with institutional and systemic oppression, all told through the singular perspective of Marjane Satrapi. In the end, few animated films have left as sobering of a legacy as Persepolis.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Persepolis is a rare animated movie that’s aimed at adult audiences, despite the fact that the story features a young girl as its protagonist.

Best Cartoon Movies

12. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Roger Ebert on Grave of the Fireflies

Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies is widely known as one of the most “tear-jerking” films ever made. As opposed to Miyazaki’s film of the same year My Neighbor Totoro, Grave of the Fireflies is a rather unflinching and realistic picture that shows the effect of war on the lives of children.

Grave of the Fireflies is probably the most famous of Takahata’s feature animations, but the director has made a plethora of other world-class films as well.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Whether it was meant to or not, Grave of the Fireflies has become one of the most renowned anti-war films in the world.

Best Marmalade Movie

11. Paddington 2 (2017)

Paddington 2  •  VFX Breakdown

Is Paddington 2 an animated movie? It’s a fair question. Technically speaking, last I checked, there were no live bear actors available to play the marmalade loving bundle of fur from Darkest Peru, so, therefore, he had to be computer-animated. As such, Paddington 2, like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? before it, is part animation and part live-action.

Let’s get one thing straight, Paddington 2 is so good that it’s worth stretching the rules for. The first Paddington is a near-perfect film itself, but Paddington 2 elevates the stakes, drama, tension, and comedy of the first so much that I’d argue it’s one of the few “perfect” films ever made. You may think I’m joking, but I can assure you that I’m not. With a script as tight as Chinatown and a visual palette as colorfully expressive as a Wes Anderson film, Paddington 2 will make even the most ardent of cynics look for the good in others and themselves.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Based on these animated film criteria, I can’t in good conscience give Paddington 2 the 100 that I want to - but it really is a phenomenal film that is great fun for audiences of all ages.

BEST CARTOON MOVIES

10. The Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

Making Fantastic Mr. Fox

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not especially fond of stop-motion animation. It’s entirely subjective, and it’s just not my favorite, but I understand why others love it. 

That being said, there’s so much to admire with The Fantastic Mr. Fox, from a tautly comedic script to excellent voice acting performances. And of course, The Fantastic Mr. Fox benefits from director Wes Anderson’s signature touch.

Best Animated Movies of All Time

Conclusion

The Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of two Wes Anderson stop-motion animated features. The other is Isle of Dogs.

Best Animated Movies List

9. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Clip

How could we not put Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on the list? Disney’s animated classic Snow White was their first ever feature-length animated production and has since become one of the most renowned animated movies in the world. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is based on a fable of the same name, written by the Brothers Grimm.

Disney’s Snow White also established that the studio had no intention of delving into the darker side of the fables of yore. In the original story, the wicked step-mother is forced by the prince to dance to her death in “red-hot iron slippers,” which is a trope that would go on to inspire the writing of Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Red Shoes thirty years later.

Best Animated Films

Conclusion

In the end, it’s hard to heap praise onto Disney’s Snow White considering how dramatically it influenced the studio’s conservative direction. After 1937, Disney became an “adaptation studio” and often stripped the most expressive aspects of the source materials.

Best Cartoon Movies

8. Waltz with Bashir (2008)

Waltz with Bashir Trailer

Animation is a beautiful medium for storytelling because it allows artists to render something visually that would otherwise be impossible. Perhaps no film better embodies this better than Waltz with Bashir.

Waltz with Bashir is an animated pseudo-documentary that follows the events of the Sabra and Shatilla massacre. The film is written and directed by Ari Folman and told through his own experiences as a young man experiencing these atrocities.

Best Animated Movies of All Time

Conclusion

Waltz with Bashir was the first animated movie to ever be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.

BEST CARTOON MOVIES

7. Chicken Run (2000)

How Claymation Movies are Made

I’m fully prepared to be alone in this feeling, but claymation is kind of creepy right? There’s just something deeply unsettling about anthropomorphic clay sculptures moving and milling about.

That being said, I, like most other people in the world, have spent dozens and dozens of hours watching the claymation movies from Aardman studios, the best of which is Chicken Run.

Chicken Run was Aardman’s first feature-length production and ambitious collaboration with Dreamworks. The film is truly audacious and ridiculous at a structural level, as the plot follows the, ahem, chicken run of fowl escapees from a wicked ranch.

Animated Films

Conclusion

The style of Aardman Studios, exemplified by Chicken Run, is truly unlike any other animation in the world.

Best Cartoon Movies

6. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

My Neighbor Totoro  •  Official Trailer

Following the release of Castle in the Sky in 1986, the newly founded Studio Ghibli went into production overdrive working on their next two films: Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies and Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro. In 1988, both films were released to critical acclaim.

Miyazaki’s picture is one of, if not the most iconic film of Japanese cinema. The titular character Totoro has become an international icon for Japanese animation and is the mascot for Studio Ghibli to this day.

Best Animated Movies of All Time

Conclusion

No artist, writer, or composer should miss My Neighbor Totoro, a masterful collaboration between director Hayao Miyazaki and the incomparable Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi.

Best Animated Movies Ever

5. Inside Out (2015)

Making of and Behind the Scenes  •  Inside Out

Pixar has always strived towards making films for audiences of all ages, and Inside Out is no exception. In fact, Inside Out may embody that sentiment better than any film that the studio had made before. The film is full of complex characters, familial turmoil, and beautiful animation.

Inside Out is a perfect example of a great story that came across at the right time. In today’s day and age, the stigma of mental health is waning, and one reason why is because Inside Out showed us all how to make friends with our joy, sadness, fear, disgust, and anger.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Inside Out is one of the most important films of the 2010s for how it expertly deals with the stresses of love, life, and growing up.

Best Animated Movies of All Time

4. The Lego Movie (2014)

“Behind the Bricks”  •  The Lego Movie

Has there ever been a movie more pleasantly surprising than The Lego Movie? When the film was first announced, I was immediately skeptical. Even after hearing strong reviews, I went into the theater with tempered expectations and major hesitation.

But ten minutes into the movie, I knew that, ahem, everything was awesome. The Lego Movie solidified writers/directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller as some of the most brilliant filmmakers in the world. The duo previously collaborated on several projects, including directing the hilarious 21 Jump Street reboot. In the years since the release of The Lego Movie, Lord and Miller have lended their talents to some of the most inventive big-budget films in Hollywood.

Animated Films

Conclusion

The Lego Movie is chock-full of action, legos, and heart all the way through to the end.

BEST CARTOON MOVIES

3. Toy Story (1995)

Toy Story  •  Behind the Scenes Voice Acting

Toy Story is the film that changed everything for computer-generated animation. This Disney classic has inspired three direct sequels and countless spin-offs. 

Ultimately, Toy Story is a picture that speaks to a specific period in the history of animation and the history of cinema. All things came together with the film; from a sharp script from Joss Whedon, Andrew Stanton, Joel Cohen, and Alec Sokolow, to an iconic soundtrack from the great Randy Newman.

Best Animated Movies of All Time

Conclusion

To infinity and beyond: Toy Story remains an essential framework for establishing a successful animated franchise.

BEST CARTOON MOVIES

2. Fantasia (1940)

The Making of Fantasia

By 1940, audiences had somewhat soured on Mickey Mouse, which prompted Walt Disney to find a way to bring the character back into the mainstream. Thus, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was conceived as an animated short that sought to blend fantasy and reality. After production costs rose and rose, Disney decided to expand the project into a montage feature of eight films.

In the wake of The Sorcerer’s ApprenticeFantasia was born, a film that has since become one of the most iconic pictures of Disney’s catalog.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Fantasia is not only a foundational film for Walt Disney Animation Studios, but for animated movies around the globe.

The Top Animated Movie

1. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

How Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was Animated

From the second that I saw the first trailer for Spider Man: Into the Spiderverse, I knew that it was going to be a good movie. Why? Because it demonstrated at a fundamental level that it knew and understood its source material, the comics of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.  

Spider-Verse is a visually stunning movie that combines the best aspects of computer and hand-drawn animations. In addition, the film tops it off with a crisp comic book aesthetic. The visuals are masterclass, but so is the story, written by Phil Lord of The Lego Movie.

Animated Films

Conclusion

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse proves that there’s still plenty of room for innovation in the world of animated cinema.

Up Next

Pixar Shorts You Need to Watch

We covered a few animated shorts in this list, but there are so many other great shorts that deserve recognition. Pixar is one of the leading animation studios in both shorts and feature-length productions. Up next, we rank the best Pixar shorts that you need to watch right now!

Up Next: Best Pixar Shorts →
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