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16 Best Animated Movies of All Time
Animated movies are not just for kids—if anything, no one needs a break from real humans more than adults. Bonus: the older you get, the more likely you are to pick up on some of the truly inspired nuances that are nestled between the lines. From Disney staples to creepy cult classics, this genre has range and is packed with unmissable winners. Whether you’re looking for artful stop-motion or visually striking computerized animation, whether you have kids or are flying solo, here are the best animated films of all time.
No list of animated films would be complete without Toy Story, the debut Pixar film that changed the course of Hollywood. The movie ushered in a new era of entirely digitally animated films, and pushed the genre into the future of narrative storytelling. Never had a computer created something with this much heart.
The Lion King
The Lion King might be the most beloved animated film of the millennial generation. From the epic soundtrack to its genuinely scary villain, Scar, the movie leaves no emotion untapped. Give your dad a hug after you see this.
Beauty and The Beast
This Tale as Old as Time is a heartwarming classic love story, and the first ever animated film to receive a Best Picture nomination.
This fun and touching 2015 Disney & Pixar collaboration takes place inside the mind of a young girl, where five personified emotions voiced by Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Bill Hader, and Mindy Kaling guide her through her family’s move and the impossible maze of adolescence.
The 2009 Academy Award-winning Pixar & Disney team-up centers around a widower named Carl and a young boy, Russell, who set out to South America by tying tons of balloons to Carl’s house in order to fulfill a promise to his late wife Ellie. It’s a real tearjerker.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Wes Anderson stop-motion comedy is based on Roald Dahl’s 1970 children’s book of the same name, but this film is by no means for kids only. Anderson’s signature wit and rich visuals make Fantastic Mr. Fox a suspenseful and heartfelt adventure.
With an uplifting and fun soundtrack, the Greek god-inspired Disney musical is an all-time great. Let the Muses sing some joy into your day!
How to Train Your Dragon
How to Train Your Dragon is a DreamWorks tale about a young Viking teen who, on his quest to become a dragon slayer and gain the acceptance of his tribe, ends up befriending the first dragon he captures instead. It’s a sweet tale accompanied by stellar animation and voice acting.
The Fox and The Hound
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is, to this day, a groundbreaking work of art for animation. Not only is it Disney’s first animated feature film, but it was the first animated film to have each frame drawn by hand. The 1937 film follows Snow White as a princess living under the thumb of her evil stepmother, The Queen. The release of the film was wildly successful–so much so that when adjusted for inflation, it’s still in America’s top 10 grossing films of all time. Another fun fact: the year after it was released the Academy gave Walt Disney an honorary Oscar, accompanied by seven miniature ones.
Ratatouille is an iconic Pixar film about a rat named Remy who plots to achieve his dream of becoming a chef by aligning himself with a restaurant’s garbage boy. It’s a joyful blockbuster film with a gorgeous score, and it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2007.
It would not be a stretch to call Paddington 2 a cult classic. The hilarious live-action sequel to Paddington tells the tale of the bear as he attempts to get a present for his aunt’s birthday and winds up framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Classic Paddington!
Inspired by the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead, Coco tells the story of a young boy named Miguel who gets accidentally transported to the Land of the Dead, where he finds his great-great-grandfather and enlists his help to reverse his family’s ban on music. The colorful, gorgeously animated film is a musical delight.
Coraline is a creepy 2009 stop-motion horror movie based on the novella by Neil Gaiman. Dakota Fanning voices Coraline, a young girl who discovers an alternate, button-filled secret universe behind a door in her new house.
This 2001 Japanese fantasy film tells the story of a young girl who enters the world of spirits of Japanese Shinto folklore, and must find a way to free herself and her parents and return them to the human world. It’s a dazzling, richly animated tale.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
A cult classic, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas is a 1993 stop-motion scary musical that tells the story of the leader of Halloween Town, Jack Skellington, who discovers a portal to Christmas Town and decides to celebrate.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse
The first ever animated feature Spider-Man film is a hilarious, vibrant, and visually stunning achievement. The 2018 film received praise for its animation, voice acting, comedy, and soundtrack, winning numerous Best Animated Feature awards.
Lauren Kranc is an editorial assistant at Esquire and Masters student at New York University.
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