I will preface this article by stating that this will be an extremely Disney-centric list. This should come as no surprise as Disney is far and away the biggest producer of animated movies for mass consumption. I could have thrown in more obscure titles for variety, but then the list would no longer properly represent the top 10 animated movies of all time. Still, I promise that Disney will not claim every spot. There are other gifted animation companies out there besides Disney/Pixar. Here are my picks for the best animated films of all time:
10 – How to Train Your Dragon 2
The original film by Dreamworks Animation was their best work outside of the Shrek series, and just a few short months ago it would have claimed the number 10 spot on this list. However, though it is rare to see a sequel improve upon a great original, in this case that feat was accomplished. Dragon 2 was every bit as charming as the original, but the animation and the 3D is even better, the action is more intense, and the storyline is even superior. HtTYD2 is a great film for children and adults alike.
9 – The Incredibles
Brad Bird is the heavy hitter in the world of animated films. With hits like The Iron Giant, Ratatouille and, of course, The Incredibles on his resume, it seems like everything he touches turns to box office gold. This tongue in cheek representation of the classic superhero film features incredibly detailed animation, fantastic voice acting from some great Hollywood talent, and is one of the funniest animated films in some time.
8 – The Lion King
This is the majestic story of Simba, a lion cub who must survive some of life’s harshest trials in order to one day come back and lead the pride. It was a huge box office smash when it hit theaters in 1994, racking up close to $800 million worldwide, a staggering total for a traditional animated film. It featured great voice acting by such greats as James Earl Jones, Robert Guillaume, and Jeremy Irons, along with Oscar winning music by Elton John.
7 – Shrek
This brilliant creation by Dreamworks brought some much needed competition to the genre when it hit theaters in 2001. With top notch animation, superb casting, and a wonderful story, this movie meets all the criteria to be considered one of the best animated films ever. Some might argue that the sequel, Shrek 2 was better, but this one is superior in my opinion.
6 – Finding Nemo
I am still in awe when I pop in the DVD of this fishy tale and throw it up on the projection screen. The colors are simply eye-popping and the animation superb. Pixar films are basically a license to print money these days, but they aren’t mailing it in and living off their reputation. They seem to consistently raise the bar with each new release, and Dreamworks and others who hope to compete have their work cut out for them.
5 – The Iron Giant
Before Pixar got their hands on Brad Bird he was becoming a household name by this animated science fiction film released in 1999 by Warner Brothers Animation. A big step up from Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, this film still uses traditional drawn animation and the story is fantastic.
4 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
The oddball on this list of the top 10 animated movies of all time, this dark, sometimes comedic animated musical from the twisted imagination of Tim Burton is an all time Halloween classic. Featuring a spine-shivering score by composer Danny Elfman this is a refreshing shake-up from the family friendly Disney flicks that make up the bulk of this list.
3 – The Jungle Book
Okay, I’ll admit to some bias here as I have to disclose that this jungle romp is my all time favorite animated film, and one of my favorite movies overall. Mowgli receives quite an education from Baloo the bear, King Louie the orangutan, and Kaa the snake throughout his jungle adventures in this classic 1967 adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s work.
2 – Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
Disney’s first ever feature length animated film is a no-brainer to take a high spot on this list of the top 10 animated films of all time. This classic tale is now 71 years of age, having been released by Disney in 1937. It is one of only 2 animated films to make the American Film institute’s top 100 movies of all time, and is one of the most enduring symbols of the work of the late great Walt Disney.
1 – Toy Story
Much like Snow White in 1937, Toy Story set the world of animation on its ear when it was released in 1995, launching the popular genre of CGI animation. With its cutting edge visual, superior voice acting featuring an allstar cast, headlined by Tom Hanks, and a fantastically clever plot, this movie is truly one of the great innovations in the history of animation.