The Ten Greatest Animated Feature Films
10. Toy Story (1995)
To be honest, most of the reason that Toy Story is in this top ten is its status as a milestone of animation. Toy Story truly is the most influential animated film since Snow White, ringing in the new trend of computer animation. However, that is not the only reason it made the list. Toy Story is really a delightful movie with colourful characters and a timeless essence which I believe will preserve this movie as a classic for kids of all ages.
9. Spirited Away (2001)
Hayao Miyazaki is the master of animation, and Spirited Away is one of his masterpieces. Spirited Away proves that there are things that can be done with animation which probably could never be pulled off in live-action movie making. Spirited away is pure, unadulterated child’s imagination laid out for us on screen, and it blew audiences away, even becoming the highest grossing film in Japanese history.
8. The Iron Giant (1999)
Over the past decade, non-Disney animated films have really taken hold and found a niche of their own. However, before this explosion of new animation, non-Disney cartoon movies were few and far between. And really good non-Disney animated movies were even harder to find. However, hidden between the Toy Storys and Lion Kings and Shreks is a wonderful little movie called The Iron Giant.
The Iron Giant may seem like a simple tale, but it is handled brilliantly, complete with real character relationships, themes which may be a little hard-edged, and a wonderful emotional core. If you have not yet seen The Iron Giant, do yourself a favour and watch it.
7. Shrek (2001)
Now, lets be straight here: I am not talking about the ridiculously over-commercialized sequels. I truly believe that the very name of Shrek has been muddied by the greed of the studio and filmmakers involved, and that the magic of this original first movie has been hidden from view.
Shrek was a movie which defied the regular story tale approach that most animated movies (Disney especially) had been taking. The computer animation itself was very refreshing at the time, and the sharp humour mixed with the emotional impact made for one fantastic film. Its too bad that when we see the lovable green ogre we no longer see this great movie, but instead we see the dollar signs of greed, the Burger King promotions, and the terrible sequels riddled with pop culture junk. Just don’t forget; Shrek at one time did mean something.
6. Wall*E (2008)
It may seem presumptuous to put a movie which is still so new onto this list. However, Pixar has been the powerhouse of animation over this last decade, and this story of a funny little robot who would find the lost human race is their absolute masterpiece. Fro the nearly-silent and brilliant opening to the exciting conclusion, WallE has some really deep themes sinking in, which remaining very light-hearted at its center. An absolutely brilliant piece of work.
5. Fantasia (1940)
Fantasia seems like it was really an experiment on the blending of animation with music, with audio and visual swirling together in one harmoniously package. Well, it worked. And now Disney’s cartoon opera has a firm hold in the history of film-making and is a landmark in animated feature films.
4. Princess Mononoke (1997)
Perhaps the most inventive country in animation is Japan, and there is none greater than Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki hand draws each frame by himself, an incredible feat in this age of production-lines. Princess Mononoke is Miyazaki’s masterpiece; an epic full of adventure, romance, fantasy, heroes and villains. It has a heavy theme involving the conflict of the industrial age and the need for ecological balance with nature. It is a brilliant film in almost every regard, and perhaps the greatest from the most imaginative and daring country in animation today.
3. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1938)
Snow White is the Birth of a Nation for animated films. Walt Disney’s landmark film brought full-scale, feature-length animation to the forefront, and he then reigned on the animation throne for many decades to come. Snow White is beloved by many and has a unique place in the annals of film history. It was a spectacular achievement of its time, opening to doors to what animation can truly do to the movies.
2. Beauty and the Beat (1991)
In the late 80s/ early 90s, Disney was undergoing a new renaissance. They had found new life in a series of high quality stories amidst great-looking animation. The Little Mermaid kicked off this new golden era, but it was Beauty and the Beast where it hit its peak. The art in this movie looked amazing, while the characters were fully realized and the story flowed perfectly. Beauty and the Beast was the first, and so far still the only, animated movie to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, and for good reason.
1. Pinocchio (1940)
Snow White may have started off Disney’s reign on the throne of animation, but Pinocchio was his crowning achievement. Many film critics around the world recognize this movie as the best that animated feature films has to offer. It was able to take what worked from Snow White and fix everything that didn’t work. And think about how iconic some of the themes and parts of that movie are now, especially the song “When you wish upon a star” and Jiminy Cricket, the physical representation of Pinocchio’s conscience which has become a song of inspiration for many people over the years. The tale is a classic morality tale played out through wonderful storytelling and fantasy.