I was recently encouraged to create a list of the top 50 animated movies of all time by fellow blogger Bondo of The Movie Review Warehouse. So I did! I went through Criticker and rated every movie that I had seen that was at least “known” according to them. I’m not a hundred percent sure what that means, exactly, but I came across what would end up being the most obscure films on my list under that category, so I guess it worked. Also, shorts and tv one-timers are eligible, but nothing serialized on tv. That’s a totally different thing or something. And now, the list.
A nostalgia pick for sure, but I’ll defend it as being pretty awesome. It’s at the tail end of the Disney renaissance of the late eighties and nineties and it shows. There are some good songs, though, and James Woods as Hades is fantastic. It also holds the distinction of being the first movie I cried at.
49. Beauty and the Beast
A lot of you might yell at me for putting this so low and I can’t really defend it other than the fact that I appreciate it more than I enjoy it (though I certainly do enjoy it). Any book reading hero/ine is nice to see.
This could have been really horrible but it ends up being quite cool. A movie for adults and kids, with references to Clint Eastwood movies and Chinatown throughout. The visual style is also really interesting.
47. Peter and the Wolf
A classic for good reason. I’m a sucker for the animated movie with classical music score and this is one of the best of the genre. Bassoon!
46. Jack-Jack Attack
It’s not a “pure” Pixar short, instead it shows what happens with the youngest of the Incredibles siblings while the others are away fighting crime and junk. It is perfectly hilarious slapstick.
I got this VHS out from the library often as a kid. It’s Rudyard Kipling and Chuck Jones, it can’t be bad.
44. The Brave Little Toaster
Baby’s first horror film? With iconic scenes like the AC unit and the B-movie song making an indelible impression on young me, it’s spot on the list was assured.
43. Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland
Another kids movie that is surprisingly scary. I always liked the imagination on display here, and the dreamscapes are what Inception should have been (train included).
42. Mary and Max
A fun, sad, human tale of a man and a girl separated by the entire world. The claymation is really well done and the bleak color palate allows you to focus on the simple but deeply affecting story being told.
41. James and the Giant Peach
I’ve always loved Roald Dahl books and JatGP is high on the list. Henry Selick does a fantastic job translating the fantasy elements to this delightfully rich movie.
An obvious classic. Works well as a nature documentary and a coming of age movie. The animation is beautiful, and the raindrops scene is all-time great.
39. The Adventures of Tintin
Half of Steven Spielberg’s fantastic 2011 output, this movie couldn’t help being good with the script by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, and Joe Cornish. A swashbuckling adventure that’s tons of fun.
38. 101 Dalmatians
Cute dogs always work for me. This has 101 of them.
37. The Secret of NIMH
Way better than the shoddy Watership Down adaptation, there’re daring escapes and scary lab animals!
36. How to Train Your Dragon
I almost didn’t give this movie a shot. I’m glad I did. It’s a great movie for most of its running time, then it becomes awesome in the last 15 minutes. A totally epic film, and not in the internet way.
35. Alice in Wonderland
AAiW is one of my top 5 books of all time and this Disney adaptation works almost perfectly for me. It’s episodic as hell, but that’s the book, too.
34. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
So good. I could watch one of these movies every year. I’m excited to catch up with Pirates!
33. The Point
With a story and soundtrack by Harry Nilsson this movie is the definition of the 70s. The soundtrack will forever be a favorite.
32. One Man Band
Pixar does shorts right. No talking, but the story is clear and the animation clean and beautiful and hilarious.
31. The Triplets of Belleville
Not a silent movie, but a quiet one. The physical comedy and air of sadness combines oddly but perfectly.
30. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
The first of the great Christmas shorts on the list, this one is iconic and deservedly so. This one is more gold than silver.
29. Sita Sings the Blues
Here’s an odd little movie. It has three things going on, a modern autobiography, a mythology lecture, and a dramatic reenactment of the myth of the Ramayana. Also, it’s a musical using Annette Hanshaw songs. It’s free to watch, and I’ve included the youtube above.
I’m not a huge food nut and this movie still works for me. That first bite scene is astounding.
Like Portal but even funnier and a short. Pixar does its thing again.
I was lucky enough to see this in one of the theatrical rereleases when I was young and some of the scenes (the transformation in particular) have stayed with me ever since
25. The Illusionist
From the maker of The Triplets of Belleville comes a movie about growing up and out of fashion. It’s like Leon without all the killing.
24. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Obviously a classic. My heart grows three sizes whenever I watch it.
23. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Maybe more than any other element, the kinteticism of this movie is really astounding.
22. Day & Night
Combines 2D and 3D animation in the best possible way. Such a cool little concept and so well made.
This holds the distinction of being the first film I saw in theaters and I’m glad it was. The songs, the characters and voices, the story, the animation. All spectacular.
20. A Charlie Brown Christmas
I saw this in its entirety for the first time last Christmas. The score is a Christmas standard and the movie will be as well.
19. End of Evangelion
This one is almost a cheat as it is the culmination of a TV series but it is a movie and it is insane. Completely different from anything I’ve seen before.
18. Millennium Actress
A movie about the line between reality and cinema and what happens when it breaks down. Animation might be the only way to make a movie like this and make it work so well.
17. The Lion King
This is the best of the Disney Renaissance films, I think. So many things are perfect. Hakuna Matata indeed.
16. Howl’s Moving Castle
There are some times when I just want an epic fantasy movie. This is as good as any, and a fun melding of English and Japanese storytelling techniques and styles.
Proof positive that 3D cinema can be a force for good. This, like Henry Sellick’s other films, is a dark fantasy story. He does that so well, and pairing him with a Neil Gaiman story seems like an obvious choice.
While this movie does decline as it goes along, it never gets bad and the first half is so good that it captures a high spot on this list.
13. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Groundbreaking, sure, but that’d be meaningless if it wasn’t a good movie. Luckily for Disney, it’s a great movie.
12. Toy Story
Another groundbreaker. Another movie that would succeed in any format thanks to the strength of the writing and direction and acting.
11. What’s Opera, Doc?
Gotta have some Bugs, right?
10. Fantastic Mr. Fox
The film that made me reassess Wes Anderson. The melancholy on display is something you don’t see every day and I love the script and voice acting.
9. Toy Story 3
Proof positive that sequels can be better than their predecessors. Not a dry eye in the house by the end of the film
8. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Delightfully surreal. I was angry at the idea of this movie but when I watched it I couldn’t help but be won over by the imagination and humor and genuine feelings on display here.
7. The Iron Giant
Brad Bird traffics in a classic story with a twist. The fish out of water here is a giant robot. Voice by Vin Diesel. Sounds silly but ends up being an emotional rollercoaster. Super Man.
Man, this experiment combining classical music and animation proved to be an explosive one. So cool and such an interesting mix of styles depending on the section.
5. Duck Amuck
Meta awesomeness featuring a battle between Daffy Duck and his animator. This is why you don’t mess with forces beyond your understanding.
4. Spirited Away
Like The Wizard of Oz but weirder. I love fantasy lands that are a long hallway/wardrobe away.
It takes guts to start a kids movie with forty minutes of non-talking. It takes Pixar to make a movie this awesome.
2. Princess Mononoke
Definitely an adult movie, this is a mythic story of nature and man and their endless clash.
1. The Incredibles
Superheroes and their families. So funny, so smart, so exciting, so good.